One of the dream destinations I have in mind for 2014 is Singapore because I have heard a lot of great things about it and have some great friends there! While living in India and later in New York, I have explored USA, Puerto Rico, Hawaii, Australia and New Zealand and I now wish to explore more of Asia. Singapore seems to be a good clean, travel friendly destination to begin this dream exploration.
Travel smart can mean a lot of things, for me, it means –
1. See more stuff and do meaningful exploration at little cost
2. Waste little time on unnecessary things so that you can spend more time on things you like
With this theme, this is how I would plan to see Singapore-
1. Save on travel fare – By flying in off-peak season and booking in advance, plus using a smart tool such as skyscanner to find the best fare deals (esp the best-time-to-book tool which shows that I can save 25% off Singapore flights by booking 12 weeks in advance! and the flight-prices-tracker tool), I can ensure booking the tickets in a reasonable price. Many people underestimate this step but the fact is one can easily save 50% of the fares just by picking inconvenient dates to travel. Hell, why not!
2. Save on stay – I check if I have friends in a place I am visiting. Do I have friends in Singapore? Check! I call them up and inform of my plans of visiting. This ensures that I have company to hang out with and of course, a home to stay. More than that, they can help with my itinerary and suggest me things that are off beat and not mentioned on popular travel advice forums.But don’t be cheap, always take a good house gift for your generous hosts. That’s why I like saving up on unnecessary things so that I can spend on my favorite people and places – a trick that has always helped me make and ‘keep’ close friends closer!
If I don’t have friends in my destination, I try to find home stays or interesting places to stay – friend of friends, boutique lodges etc. I avoid staying in expensive hotels or resorts unless it is a relaxing vacation I am after where I intend to spend most of the time availing the resort facilities.
Another way to save on stay is to book flight, hotel and car packages together. Lastly, look for the credit cards which have special skymiles rewards for frequent flyers. Now that I am set for flight and stay, I plan the itinerary.
3. See interesting and not the touristy stuff – I like seeing offbeat things and exploring places deep rather than touching everything mentioned in a guide book. Anyways, guidebooks are so 90s, so I open my laptop and a quick scan of travel forums gives me an idea of the most important places of my interest.
I am a photography buff, so capturing a good sunset always tops my list. With a little search, I find that Lower Pierce Reservoir is the perfect place for that.
Now, I plan rest of my time for art, shopping, walkabouts and of course food walks. After a couple of phone calls with my friend who knows my taste, I pick a morning walk in Botanical garden one day-
and a day tour to China market for cheap shopping and the food-
4. Explore local cuisines, eat more for less – Now, food is another priority of mine as I like to explore the local cuisine at savvy rates. I find this great blog that lists exactly that kind of stuff – http://www.ladyironchef.com/tag/cheap-and-good-food-in-singapore/ It already has more places than I will have time to explore, so I am all set food wise!
Next, I search for the best means to commute within Singapore and find out that the express bus service Singapore Attractions Express is great to visit the common spots. I will then install the Singapore Map and Walks iOS app to get the city maps because I love walking around independently and seeing stuff from close (another tip for traveling smart – always have maps handy in your smartphone). I have been told its fun to ride a rickshaw around the city at night and being from India, I am totally excited for that. I reserve one night at Clarke Quay for a lively and perhaps loud time out with friends. After all, no trip ends without a drink with friends!
And writing this post itself has got me excited to explore Singapore as soon as I can! May be its time to enter a skyscanner price alert for Singapore after all.