I’m back from my trip! And the million (or well, thousand) dollar question is…

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Soo considering how “last minute” my holiday was, it wasn’t even an alang-alang short hop across the South China Sea, ok.

No, no.

I, erm, flew to the other side of the world and landed on the East Coast of the United States.

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heh.

WELL good thing I had a plump short-term emergency fund (“Pocket”)  going, right?!

Although strictly speaking, I will admit that a holiday doesn’t really qualify as an emergency, per se. But I did explain in my previous posts that my savings are not organized according to purpose (meaning I don’t have a specifically-labelled “travel fund”); they’re organized according to time-frame.

Do check out that note if you haven’t already but in a nutshell I have short-term, medium-term, and long-term savings. As a refresher:

What are my short-term purposes? Or simply, what’s the money in my Pocket for? Well, it’s the first line of defense in my Emergency Cushion. If I were to ever need cash that my monthly income can’t cover, the money in my Pocket is available to supplement. I also use the Pocket to save up for holidays or other short-term planned expenses. In fact, I’d initially set it up as a way to save for my big trip last year; I committed to set aside a few hundred dollars a month and by the time my holiday rolled around I had quite a chubby fund. I do my best to top-up this Pocket every month, and I set aside my savings first thing after receiving my monthly salary – and not just sweep up the leftovers masa bulan tua.

The big trip I referenced was a three-week Euro trip I’d taken pretty much the exact same time last year. And every time I go on a big trip, I only ever utilize funds in my General account and/or my “Pocket” account. I’ve never and never intend to ever utilize my medium-term or long-term savings for holiday purposes. Those funds are allocated for more seriousish stuff.

Furthermore, as I’d explained in this post, I charge most of my holiday expenses onto my credit card because I believe the delayed-payment mechanism is safer; if there are any fradulant charges, I’m able to dispute them with the bank within 30 days (I think) unlike with a debit card where the payment is made automatically (and the cash is “withdrawn”). I also do this to take advantage of the credit card perks, specifically the redemption of Royal Skies miles, which I’ve used in the past to redeem “free flights” (but you have to pay for airport tax and surcharges still, which is maybe $150 or perhaps more depending on where you fly to.) Nevertheless, I pay off my credit card in full after every holiday, so all my travel expenses are made in cash and never credit (i.e. on loan).

Anyway!

Yes, so I flew into New York and spent two weeks (including travel time) away. The first week my friends and I took a car upstate to stay by Lake Chautauqua and we gallavanted all around small-town America, went to the Niagara Falls (both the American and Canadian sides), cycled along Presque Isle in Lake Erie, Pennsylvannia, and did a bunch of other countryside stuff like stop at yard sales, farmer’s markets (to buy donuts), and an alpaca (wool) farm to say hello to a bunch of alpacas (my new best friends). The second week we headed south to Washington, DC and New York City – both cities I’m very familiar with because I lived in one and frequently visited the other (they’re only four hours drive apart – and yes, I said only because America is huge and a four hour drive is actually not that bad relatively speaking.)

Here are some pictures I snatched off my Instagram feed (minus my face because I’m mysterious like that) for your viewing pleasure:

 

(Just to let you know, my Instagram is private and restricted to family and friends only 🙂 )

By far the most asked question I’ve been asked since coming home (after “siuk ehh, how was it?!, of course) is…

Brapa tah?

Brapa tah you spend?

 

Er. Penyibuk jua wow. 

HAHA nadawah ETEN. 

Up to now I’ve always been quite tight-lipped about my personal specifics but I’m rethinking this because so many people appear to be quite curious (and perhaps may want to organize their own holidays, which I’ll always encourage people to do cuz I think travel is amazeballs – you learn so! much! putting yourself out there, it’s really somethin’ else to realize for yourself how big the world truly is.)

I won’t reveal every single dirty detail (because I shy) but I will at least fill you in on:

  • My flight details and cost
  • Accommodation choices (and cost)
  • Car rental
  • A rough budget for eating and daily expenses
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The unglamourous aspect of travel that you should never overlook: the budget and accounting!

Before we get into that, one thing you must understand about me is I spend on travel; I don’t have an expensive car, I don’t buy expensive bags, I live with my parents, I’m not married, I don’t have children, I don’t own horses (some of my friends actually do, which is totally cool because it makes them happy and I always say put your money where your happy is!). So when I travel, it’s go big or go home. Which means if you’re looking for “travel on a shoe-string budget” or “budget travel ideas”,  I’m probably not the best person to come to for that hahaha.

With that being said, it’s not that I spend unwisely and completely lose self-control when I’m on holiday. While I don’t choose to stay in 10-to-a-room shared bunkbed dorms just to save a few bucks, I also don’t check myself into five-star hotels. And once I’ve jumped on the flight and arrived at my destination, I don’t bekira and track expenses like a fiend. In fact, I don’t track expenses at all (gasp!)… I just keep most/all of my receipts and charge things onto my credit card (so I can check the bill later on) and do all my rough calculating/accounting after. I don’t have a super strict budget but I do have a general idea of what my budget is, and I try my best not to blow through it in the first three days.

So it’s worth keeping that in mind when I do finalise and share my numbers 🙂

(Still working on it guys, I only landed four days ago and I was back at my work desk less than 24 hours after that. Ain’t nobody got taim fo’ jetlag!)

One answer I always tell people when they ask how much my holiday costs is… Well it depends on whether you shop or not. I definitely shopped myself out on this holiday, because well I kind of wanted to. But in my opinion shopping isn’t an essential part of a holiday, it’s actually a separate type of expense entirely. The essentials of a holiday are what I listed out in bullet points above: flight, accommodation, and the dailies (e.g. food and drink, transport, touristey things, some souveniers here and there). If you have a good idea of what those Critical Things will cost, you can use that as a basis for your rough budget and eventual cost. And if you intend to shop, come up with a shopping budget and slap it on:

So the equation would be:
Critical Things + Shopping = Total Holiday Cost
or (Flight + Accom + Dailies) + Shopping = Total Holiday Cost

Aside from that, I do intend to write a few posts on holiday/travel things in general… Maybe I can finally start filling up the completely neglected travel category of this blog. Some tips on what you need to know before planning a trip to the US (do Bruneians need a visa?), how to prepare and plan for insanely long flights (21+ total hours of being airborne to get to the other side of the world btw) like what to wear, what to bring, etc. What type of accommodation do I normally go for (hotels? hostels? airbnb?) and how to pick one (near sights? metro? buses?). What websites do I use to check for flights and accommodation? Do I wait for travel fairs and promotions?

If you happen to have any other suggestions, my shy reading audience, do leave it in the comments. If not, it’s coo’, I’ll just write whatever I feel like as usual. Haa.

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2 thoughts on “I’m back from my trip! And the million (or well, thousand) dollar question is…

  1. When I read posts like this I ALMOST wished I’m not a brokeass student so I can gallant away and travel (while also keeping an eye on my finances as per your notes!) BUT I am unlikely to ever be prepared for the whole working world just yet so I’ll have to stick to saving my allowances as baby steps for when I DO enter the /actual/ adult world. (I just started playing your Fivers and Fifties game and got my first Fiver today!)

    Nevertheless, I’d still love to read more of your travel posts! It’s quite refreshing to see a Bruneian take on it and I’m obsessed. Will go over and reread your notes in my “working adult” future, In Syaa Allah! ❤

    Like

    • Hi!! Thanks for the kind words, glad you’ve enjoyed reading 🙂 Oh don’t be in any rush to join the working ranks, while it’s great to earn your own money there’s also so much benefit to being a student. You know what they say: mo’ money, mo’ problems 😛 I’ll definitely be writing more on travel (because I’ve beaten the personal finance subject to death at this point haha) and I’ll try to remember to write about student travel too. As a student, I also used to save up my allowances to (budget) travel, but unfortunately this is much easier when you study overseas because there are more budget airlines and options 😦 Are you a student in Brunei? I haven’t fully explored the potential of AirAsia but that’s one viable option. (Also, travel agent promos!)

      Like

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