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It pays to plan your vacation early

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 9: The year-end school holidays are upon us and it is also time for most working people to use up their annual leave.

A lovely vacation with your family or friends in the country or overseas will fit in nicely with your plan to spend quality time with them.

Just the very thought of waking up to the sound of birds chirping merrily and waves beating against the sea shore, and feeling the gentle breeze caressing your cheeks is therapeutic enough to relieve you of your work stress.

Unfortunately, some people avoid making holiday plans, or even cancel trips at the last minute, owing to financial constraints. But is it necessary for one to have deep pockets in order to go on a vacation?

BIG BUDGETS UNNECESSARY

Bernama spoke to a few experienced holidaymakers and got some tips and guidance from them on how to plan an  inexpensive holiday trip.

Abdul Adib Zakaria, 28, who is attached to the civil service, says going on a vacation or tour does not necessarily require a big budget. Instead, he adds, it depends on what kind of holiday a person intends to have.

“If you plan to go shopping, then you will definitely need a big budget. But if you intend to just go sightseeing or experience the atmosphere in other countries or enjoy the beauty of nature, then you don’t need a big budget,” he  says.

For those thinking of travelling overseas for a tour or vacation, Abdul Adib recommends that they start making plans early to get the best deals in terms of air fares and accommodation.

“I personally prefer to go overseas. I grab my air tickets whenever there are promotions for low fares and I usually get them well in advance so that I have enough time to save some money for my trip.

“Believe it or not, I only spent RM3,000 on a 10-day trip to South Korea. So economical! I also took along with me instant noodles, meat floss and bread to eat as it is difficult to get halal foodstuff in a non-Muslim country,” says Abdul Adib, who returned from his South Korean holiday only recently.

He views vacations, whether domestic or abroad, as a wonderful respite from the rigours of working life and a great opportunity to relax his body and mind.

“If I had the means, I would want to go to Japan, China or Istanbul. But if time is an issue, then vacationing at a local resort on an island or hill like Cameron Highlands is just as satisfying,” he says.

SHOPPING ONLINE FOR LOW AIR FARES

Writer and writing coach, Azzah Abdul Rahman, 35, says both domestic and foreign vacations have their own plus points as every destination is unique in its own way.

“I like both (holidaying in and out of the country) and I love it when my trips require me to take a flight or the train. I also plan my travels carefully and thoroughly.

“I usually surf the Net in search of the lowest air fares and to do this I use an application called Skyscanner,” she says, explaining that Skyscanner’s search results provide complete details of airlines, flight times and fares.

As for hotel bookings, she suggests visiting www.booking.com and www.tripadvisor.com.my to get vital information such as whether or not a particular hotel is still operating or if there are any attractions in the surroundings of a certain  hotel they are interested in booking.

“My dream is to set my foot onto all the destinations where the wonders of the world are located. I usually travel with my parents or friends. I have only gone backpacking alone to Singapore and while I was living in Turkey,” says Azzah, who cites photography as her hobby.

She has visited 18 countries so far and they include Australia, South Korea, Egypt, Cambodia, Indonesia, Brunei, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Palestine. Spain, Japan, India and Vietnam are among the countries she now plans to visit.

Azzah, who also writes in her blogspot, http://perempuanbackpackers.blogspot.com, savours the satisfaction of travelling when she delves into the lifestyle of the local folk, marvels at nature’s magnificent landscapes and follows the trails of history.

SECURITY RISKS

Norsaifullah Ramada, 28, a customer analytics senior executive, meanwhile, advises travellers to refrain from comparing the value of the ringgit against the currency of the country they are visiting.

“People usually like to convert the local currency to the Ringgit Malaysia when visiting countries like Singapore or Australia and, naturally, everything will seem more expensive,” she says, adding that they should also make it a point to bargain when shopping to avoid being ripped off by unscrupulous traders.

Norsaifullah also advises travellers to be heedful of their personal safety, particularly if they are going overseas where the risks are greater.

“When I travel abroad, I try not to wear clothes that are expensive or too up to date. I prefer to wear something more casual and blend in with the locals.

“As for women travellers, I would like to advise them not to wear jewellery or carry too much money with them. They should also move around in groups and avoid being alone,” she says.

She says the easiest way to enjoy the holiday season without burning a hole in the pocket is by putting some money aside every month long before the trip.

“We must have some savings when we go on a holiday. If we hesitate each time we need to spend some money, then we may not fully enjoy our holiday,” she adds.

— BERNAMA

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