Frequently Asked Questions: Travel
Are You Guys Budget Travellers?
Nope, we wouldn't consider ourselves budget travellers. We believe in Affordable, Realistic & Comfortable travel. We will eat at restaurants, spend money on activities and not scrimp and save just to keep costs low. In other words, we travel in a way that most Singaporeans should be able to adapt to.
I Can Do It Much Lower Than You Can!
Well, we've never claimed to be the most "miserly" travellers in the world. (We're not even budget travellers) If your idea of a holiday is having bread and water for food, pinching from supermarkets, trying to cheat the public transport system, sneaking a sleep in hostel's, and hitchhiking or couchsurfing, i'm happy for you.
Frankly, I think a person who likes to compare who can do it cheaper is a really shallow person. There's no right or wrong in travelling; it's not a competition. There will always someone who can do it cheaper. Realistic, Affordable, & Comfortable is our motto.
How Long Do You Travel At One Go?
When I was still a banker, inclusive of incentive trips, I had over 30 days of leave a year. Today, in my current role, I have 24 days of leave a year. The Girl has fewer days of leave, so she can't come with me each time.
I try to do four trips a year. Two trips of 2-3 weeks each, and two trips of 10-11 days each.
It's not too difficult actually. 5 working days of leave equate 9 days of travel if you plan your flight timings well. If there's a public holiday that week, it means 9 days of travel using just 4 days leave!
How Much Do You Spend Per Trip?
It really depends on which continent we are going to. For Europe, we try to limit ourselves to S$ 2,500 - S$3,000 per trip; inclusive of airfare, accommodation, food, sightseeing/activity expenses, and miscellaneous travel expenses. For places like Africa or the Oceania region, our expenses go up to S$4,000 because more air travel is involved.
Wow! You Spend So Little! Do You Travel Like Beggars?
Definitely not! We just make sure we eat where the locals eat so we can cut food costs and yet have an authentic local experience at the same time. In fact, we seldom cook and never use street food as a real meal. We always eat in cafes and restaurants; just not at the tourist traps.
"We have main meals where the locals eat and go to the tourist traps for desert or coffee. This way you limit yourself from being ripped off but yet still enjoy the experience of people watching or relaxing in the main square like a tourist."
The Girl enjoying cake and tea in the centre of Vienna, Austria.
As for accommodation, we used to sleep in hostel dorms. In Europe, that's probably an average of 8-9 Euro a night. In recent years though (since we aren't getting any younger), "The Girl" and I have started to "up our budget", spending a little more on "comfort". Still hostels if necessary, but private rooms rather than dorms are our accommodation of choice these days. For 1-2 nights per trip, we even treat ourselves to luxury accommodation.
At the end of the day, when we go travelling, experiencing the country is the key thing, there is absolutely no reason to spend a over a 100 dollars a night on a hotel room (unless you have some medical condition that requires you to stay in a hotel or you life might be in danger;whatever that might be).
The Bald Guy in a 16 bed dorm. Sofia, Bulgaria.
Crazy! 2,500 SGD Holidaying In Europe; People Go Holiday To Enjoy, You Go Holiday To Suffer.
It's all about your mindset. Don't tell me about preferring privacy or getting robbed. Just go out and experience it before you say anything. It's because Singaporeans are such anti-social human beings and insist on "privacy" which is why they end up spending S$,000 SGD on a 2 week European holiday.
If I used to earn S$15,000 a month and could happily stay in a hostel dorm so I could free up cash for other activities, there is no reason why a person who earns S$4,000 a month has to insist on a hotel. The problem isn't that traveling is expensive. The problem is YOU.
"See? I enjoy luxury just as much as the rest of you sheep. But if I can give it up for a couple of weeks just so I can travel more without spending unnecessary cash, there's no reason why you can't."
How Do You Plan Your Trip So You Don't Have To Rush Through Everything?
Unfortunately, being a Singaporean means we don't have the luxury of time; say to lie on the beach for two weeks doing nothing. Unless you quit your job, which I'm not planning on doing yet.
We usually use Trip Advisor or WikiTravel to create our "Must See/Do" list. Then we plan the fastest way eg; by Night Trains/Bus or even taxi to "save on the hours". Thats where we spend the money we save on accomodation. We "buy time". Usually, it's relaxing enough. Once however, we had to squeeze in a "desert taxi" for 9 hours with 4 other people. Not the most comfortable thing, but it's an experience i'll remember. Plus, we freed up enough time to have to have a relaxing few days ahead to see the things we wanted to see.
"Three guys and two girls excluding the driver. We squeezed in this mercedes "desert taxi" for a 9 hour trip to save time so we could have a more relaxing few days ahead."
Frequently Asked Questions: Personal
How Do You Guys Travel As A Couple So Often? Don't You Quarrel?
Yeah we do have our arguments at times. When that happens, we just have to ask ourselves if the holiday would be more enjoyable if the arguement were to end immediately. Most of the time it seems that way. It doesn't matter who is right or wrong. What's most important is "do I want to carry on the rest of this trip nursing a bad mood?"
In Your Blog, You Seem To Belittle Singaporean's Traveling Habits. Why?
To be fair, there is NO correct style of traveling. Some people like luxury, some like to rough it out. My point is, if you can can afford it, go ahead with your 5 star hotels, I enjoy that as much as the next guy. But you don't carry the latest iphone or spend 20 SGD at Sushi Tei and complain that you'd like to see the world but you cant afford to. Thats bullshit. Unfortunately, looking for excuses not to leave their comfort zone is a trait of most Singaporeans.
Personally, I Would Love To Travel On A Budget But There's No Way My Gf/Bf Will Be Ok With Hostels/ Carrying a Backpack/ Traveling To A Country That Doesn't Have The Coolest Shopping Places
That's up to you to TRAIN (for lack of a better word) your other half. The Girl never thought she'd be staying in a hostel; neither does she enjoy lugging a heavy backpack around the world. And, she certainly loves shopping for the latest branded bags as well.
What I did was to start with somewhere easy, like backpacking in Australia. Then we stayed in a good hostel for her to get used to the hostel experience. A few days later, we set off to Vanuatu, a totally different world with lodges swarming with insects. Once she got through that, any hostel in the world felt like a hotel. Now we never have a problem agreeing on accommodation.
To top it off, she even managed to make it through the Thorong La Pass in Nepal, the highest pass in the world at 5300m.(with help of course) And she's NOT a sporty girl. She still hates rocks, backpacks, and loves her pink YSL handbag. It's all about stepping out of your comfort zone for a couple of weeks and adapting to your surroundings. Your life of luxury can continue when your back. Like I say, if you can afford the luxury travel, I'm happy for you. I don't know about you, but I certainly cant afford to travel luxuriously and maintain a decent bank balance.
Taking a break at 4000+m on the way to Thorong La Base Camp Lodge
Yasur Volcano Hotel, can't remember the exact name; Tanna Island, Vanuatu
Why Do You Have A Bone To Pick With Those Who Visit Touristy Countries?
The truth is, there absolute nothing wrong with visiting Italy, France or whichever "common" holiday destination you wish. However, there's a lot more in lets say; France, than just Paris, more to Italy than just Rome, or going to the Vatican, Milan, Florence etc.
The problem with "MOST" Singaporeans is that all they want, is to visit these touristy places, post a selfie with the Effel Tower in the background, and have their friends say "wow, you went to Paris! Super envy you!" or "wow, go Europe, so rich ah?" I'm not saying you should go to Italy and NOT go to Rome. You should, but you can do it when your 50. It's not too late by then to "visit" all the "tourist traps" that have been planted there to rip off tourists. (Oh, but I forgot, Singaporeans love to be taken for a ride. Earn 3k must spend like they earn 10k.)
Don't waste your youth. It might be hard to leave your comfort zone of "Sydney's and Taiwan's". But if you find it hard to wander off the beaten path when your 20, it'll be even harder in your 50s.
When your 50, wandering around the streets of say Libya (don't tell me cape town) might not be the as ideal as doing it in your 20s-30s. But you can wander down the streets of Paris when your 50. If the only interest you have is having your photo taken beside a recognizable landmark, good for you buddy, you're a true Singaporean indeed.
We travel to "touristy places" too. We wouldn't go to Morocco and NOT visit Marrakech(the most touristy part) or go to Vanuatu and NOT go to Tanna to see the Yasur Volcano, or to Bosnia & Herzegovina and NOT go to Mostar to see the old bridge. We would! But we would also try to see more than just that. Other than Marrakech we would go to Chefchaouen, other than Mostar we would go to Sarajevo. Even if we did just to the touristy parts in each country, at least we bothered to see "these countries".
We always meet Western women traveling alone, for long periods of time. Even Japanese and Korean women do it(despite having terrible English). If they can, I don't see why a Singaporean can't. Who knows? Maybe Singaporean women are born to travel to Milan to do shopping and the men are born to carry handbags, pay for tours, hotels and live in their own happy world.
What Do You Enjoy Most About Travelling?
As I mentioned previously, unless you're a retiree, have a rich dad, millionaire, or plan to take a sabbatical, it's going to be hard to really travel. Personally, I get my satisfaction when I arrive at the places I've been googling for the past 6 months. I have that "I'm finally here" moment.
Also, when you travel alone, you really discover more about yourself than you thought you would. You become more sociable than you usually would. You become a stronger person. It's an unbelievable experience. Despite my years of staying in hostels, I had to overcome a mental block in my head. On one occassion, The Girl couldn't come with me as she had a new job. So I thought "what the heck, I'm going alone"; and I booked my ticket. Today, I'm looking foward to my next solo trip to Lesotho and Swaziland.
Are You Planning To Quit And Seriously Travel One Day?
Of course. When I've worked for my organization long enough, I'm planning to ask them if they can grant me a 3 month sabbatical so I can do Central America and the Caribbean. I would love to take a year of, but it's difficult for me because I can't just leave The Girl behind and disappear; so I guess 3 months would be a more realistic choice.
If you read how western travel bloggers do it, they always say, "Just pack up and go. Don't think. If you keep calculating or thinking you'll never get down to it." While that's true, it's really a lot harder for a Singaporean. The last thing I want is to travel for a year and come back to find nobody wants to employ me. I will have a family, and properties to pay for. I must have a significant amount of savings.
So that pretty much sums it up. If you have any other burning questions or a pissed because the "Sheep" I describe sounds a lot like you and you don't agree with me; please drop us an email @ AGirlAndABaldTraveller@Gmail.com
The Girl & The Bald Guy