Welcome back to the fortnightly Weekend Traveller series where I share tips and strategies for travelling during the weekend so you can travel more using less work leave. You can find all of the previous posts for weekend end travel here.
Today, I want to share why a weekend trip is the best time to travel solo.
After travelling around the world alone for 4 months, I have come to appreciate travelling with companions. That is, companions whom I can get along with on the road. There’s just something nice about being to share a moment with another person.
Welcome to part 4 of the Weekend Traveller series, a fortnightly segment where I share tips and strategies for travelling during the weekend so you can travel more without using your work leave.
Trip planning is stressful. What if you cannot eat all the food, see all the sights or buy all the things?
Actually, you don’t have to eat all the food, see all the sights or buy all the things while on a weekend trip. The whole point of being a Weekend Traveller is that you will be able to travel frequently and do all those things on multiple trips.
However, it doesn’t mind that you should throw all travel planning out of the window and wing it. The times I haven’t made plans for my weekend travel are times which I did not have productive trips (Kuching and Jakarta comes to mind) and that makes me very annoyed.
On the other hand, my Bangkok trip was almost perfect because I did take time out to plan and even make my own travel guide (that’s a post for another day).
Narrow down your travel to-do list
Once you have decided on your destination (another potential headache if you are tracking budget flights), it’s best to plan for your stay if you want to have a productive trip.
There are some who recommend not planning and just going with the flow when you arrive. This will work if you have plenty of days to spare. If you only have 48 hours, walking around aimlessly while hungry is not a good plan.
[This guide is partly inspired by Taiwanese travel writer 943 who wrote an awesome book on round-the-world travel on cheap.]
I will use my 2-day Bangkok trip in October 2012 as an example because it was my first trip there.
List down the sites you want to see. You can think big at this stage. My initial plan was to eat a lot of Thai dessert (something I didn’t manage to do in the end), visit Khaoshan Road, pray at Erawan Shrine and get a massage.
Then I realized that getting a S$190 air ticket only for a massage was not worth it and I threw in other sites based on recommendations by friends, the internet and guidebooks.
I ended up with more sites in my list: Grand Palace, Chatuchak Market, Chinatown, ride on boat public transport, Cabbages & Condoms restaurant, Terminal 21, Platinum Mall, MBK.
The updated list was much better than the first but it was too ambitious. I mean, how many malls can you visit in a day without overdosing on air-conditioning?
Narrow down your sites using a pros-and-cons list. I list down the places to go and write down the pro’s and cons of visiting it as well as what other sights are nearby. You can find out what is nearby when you have a travel guide that lumps sights based on how they are clustered.
My Bangkok list looked like this:
> Chatuchak + (because everyone says so)
– I hate crowds. It is far from the city. Mom didn’t like it.
Nearby sites: NOTHING
> Platinum Mall
+ Recommended by a friend, lots of people shop there
– I don’t like shopping.
Nearby sites: Erawan Shrine.
> Grand Palace
+ It’s shiny! – Entrance fee
Nearby sites: National Museum, Khaoshan Road
> Khaoshan Road
+ Fake IDs
– Loads of unkemptly backpackers
Nearby sites: (See above)
+ It’s Chinatown
– A bit far from other stuff
Nearby sites: ???
Cabbages & Condoms
+ Fun name and for a good cause
– Is it in the middle of nowhere? (I later discovered that it’s very near my hotel.)
Nearby sites: ???
In the end, I added National Museum to my To-Do list and took out Chinatown and Chatuchak. Since Erawan Shrine and Platinum Mall are near each other, I decided to go to both despite not liking shopping. By narrowing down my list, I only focused on bits of the city and did not have to run around a lot.
After having your real list of To-Do, it is time to make your own travel guide. I’ll be sharing how in another 2 weeks’ time. See you!
Do you somewhere to go for a weekend trip? Which parts of the city will you focus on?
For long distances, planes are your best bet but the ticket prices can be quite expensive if you do not do a lot of planning. I usually buy my air tickets for budget airlines about 6 months in advance when there is a sale. I try not to buy full price tickets because it’s not worth the money.
Pros of planes for weekend travel:
Comfortable (compared to 6 hours of bus or train)
Not affected by traffic jam
Cons of planes for weekend travel:
Expensive ticket price [Solution: Buy tickets only during promo periods, do not buy luggage for budget flights.]
Terrible arrival/departure timings [Solution: Check other airlines or skip the destination]
If you have good train connections to the places you want to visit, taking the train might be a good option. I love taking night trains because I save on the cost of a night’s accommodation.
Pros of trains for weekend travel:
Relatively cheap prices (at least in Malaysia)
Not affected by traffic jams on the road
Trains with bunks==better sleep
Cons of trains for weekend travel:
Limited tickets for weekend travel [Solution: Buy your tickets in advance]
I put night bus instead of I figure that you will need night buses for long distance travels.
Pros of buses for weekend travel:
Cons of night buses for weekend travel:
Bad sleep [Solution: Even I cannot solve this. I just suck it up]
Affected by traffic jams [I was once 5 hours late because of a massive jam. Lesson learned: Take the train ]
My mom and I had a mini road trip to the most northern part of Borneo island [LINK: Kudat Marina]. I would choose trains and buses over driving for a weekend trip because it’s more tiring. But if the place you are going to doesn’t have good
Pros of driving for weekend travel:
You have a car to drive around
Cons of driving for weekend travel:
Driving is quite tiring, especially for long hours
If you’re planning an island getaway for the weekend, taking a boat is probably your only choice so I won’t go into the pros and cons.
I haven’t been on any island trips for the weekend but the planning process should be the same: pick a nearby place and a good package so you don’t spend too much money.
Welcome to part 2 of the Weekend Traveller series, a fortnightly segment where I share tips and strategies for travelling during the weekend so you can travel more without using your work leave.
Last week, I talked about the pros and cons of weekend travelling. Today, we’ll be looking at how to choose a destination for your weekend travel so you save on travel time and cost.
Back when I still had a job during which I took quite a lot of weekend travel, the destinations that I chose were based on the challenges that I gave myself and the availability of cheap air tickets from AirAsia (Bangkok, Jakarta and Kuching are a few examples).
Unless you have similar self-imposed travel challenges, you’ll most likely choose the destination based on places you actually want to visit. (I’ll admit that there are some Malaysian states which I’d rather not go at all.)
Main factor for choosing a weekend travel destination
To choose a weekend travel destination, you must keep in mind the how much time you will be able to spend there which really means the time of arrival and departure. To enjoy a place, I’d say you need a minimum of 24 hours of visiting time.
So when you are making travel plans, you have to see that the transportation timing is right. It’s better to travel 13 hours on a night bus on Friday and reach on a Saturday morning than it is to take a 1-hour plane ride that reaches the destination at 4pm on a Saturday.
What you can do now is list down a few locations that you want to go for a weekend trip. Next you should do your research on what transportation there are for you to get there. (Coincidentally, transportation choices is our next discussion topic.)
Good weekend travel destinations from Singapore
Since I was based in Singapore when I started my travelling craze, I’ll list down a few places you can consider visiting for your weekend travel:
Every capital city on the peninsula of Malaysia (That’s 11 of them!)
Sadly, my hometown Kota Kinabalu does not make a good weekend travel destination from Singapore because of the bad AirAsia flight timing. Boo hoo.
Before I quit my job for this round-the-world trip, I was travelling quite a lot despite only having 20 days of annual leave. I wanted to get away from the busy life in Singapore so I was plotting at least one trip each month.
Many of these trips did not require me to take days off my annual leave because I chose to travel during the weekend.
Welcome to the start of the “Weekend Traveller” series where I share my tips on why you should travel more during the weekends, how to choose a weekend destination, how to prepare for a weekend trip and other related information.
The Weekend Traveller will appear every 2nd and 4th Tuesday. Here are some of the topics I have in mind:
Should you be a weekend traveller? Pros and cons of weekend travel
How to choose a destination (time, cost)
How to pack for a weekend
Research to make every second count
Making your personal guidebook
What to do when travelling
What to do when you are back
Useful sites for booking and useful smartphone apps
If you think there are more that I can touch on, feel free to leave it in the comments.
Let’s start this week’s discussion with the pros and cons of weekend travel.
Pros of travelling during the weekend
Travel more: There are 52 weekends in a year so you get to travel beyond the days you have in your annual leave.
Use less annual leave: Annual leaves are best used in chunks so you can travel to further destinations and spend more time there.
Weekends will be more interesting: No more weekends filled with sleeping in until noon and Youtube watching. You get to go out and smell different air.
Less luggage: A backpack of clothes is sufficient for a weekend trip which cuts down on luggage cost on budget airlines.
Cons of travelling during the weekend
Short time: Even if you travel during Friday night and reach your home early Monday morning, weekend trips are really short.
More expensive: When you consider that your air ticket is split into only 2 days of expenses, it can be more expensive than a week’s trip.
Tiring: Trying to pack loads of sights and things-to-do into 2 days can drain your energy.
Are you convinced that being a Weekend Traveller is for you? If so, join me in 2 weeks when I discuss how to choose a location for a weekend trip.
If you are not yet convinced, read on and see if you change your mind.
Are you a Weekend Traveller? Which places have you visited during the weekends? What related topics do you want me to cover?