Tag : on a budget

tomorrow: packing for a very special holiday

This post is part of the #BlogGreatness weekly challenge. You can find other posts with the theme Tomorrow here and learn more about the weekly challenges here.

I’m typing this post from the International Terminal at Auckland Airport, killing time as I wait to board my flight to Japan. The plane leaves tomorrow morning and I’m beyond excited!

Last year was a very stressful year for us, so when I saw a voucher for seven days at a beach resort in Thailand for sale on Grab a Deal, I bought it without even researching how much would cost to get there. We needed a holiday and something fun to look forward to and help us stay positive. I bought that voucher in May last year and started saving money for the tickets slowly, aiming for a trip sometime in March. 

Then, in November, Ivan saw an offer on Facebook from Jetstar: 2 for 1 flights to Japan. I did a little research on Skyscanner and flying to Japan, and from there to Thailand, wouldn’t be much more expensive than flying directly to Phuket. I love Japan and Ivan always wanted to visit, so it seemed like the perfect opportunity. We bought the tickets to Japan in November, and in January we got the ones to Thailand.

I wish I could say that after that all we had to do was wait until our departure date, but alas that’s not the case. I’ve always considered myself to be extremely well organised when it comes to planning, but this time my head was so busy with our residency application, I ended up making a few mistakes along the way. 

First of all: the tickets were cheap because they only included the seats. If you wanted anything else, e.g. luggage, meals, entertainment, was extra. I almost didn’t buy any meals out of spite, but bought a couple at the end. We’re not dispatching any luggage though. That’s right: we’re going on an 18-day trip with only a backpack each. I’m also taking a small bag, but the total weight of both items must be 7kg.


Here’s what I’ve packed: 1 paid of jandals, underwear, socks, 1 bikini, 1 pair of ponte pants, 1 pair of shorts, 1 skater dress, 1 strapless dress, 1 beach cover-up, pijamas (shorts & tank top), 7 tops, 1 long-sleeved top, 1 cardigan, 1 towel and a small bag of travel sized toiletries. I actually removed two tank tops from my backpack while I was arranging my clothes for the photo. Packing light also means packing smart. 

On my bag I’m taking my camera, iPhone, Kindle, respective cables, wallet, documents, water bottle, sunglasses and a few other smaller things.


After our North Island motorcycle trip last year I’ve become the queen of repurposed storage. I’ve put my accessories and Lady Danger lippie in a coin purse. During the road trip, I used an old eyeglasses case to carry cables and chargers and another for q-tips, band-aids, and daily liners. 

Tomorrow is the start of a great adventure and I’m not too worried about not being able to buy loads of stuff to bring back home. I want to experience something new with my beloved husband and share a place I visited on my own with him, and then explore a new place together. Follow me on Instagram and Twitter, I keep posting there while I’m away! And you can find me on Snapchat under danipohlod too.

And FYI: when I get back to Wellington, I’ll be 29… ūüėČ

travel on a budget: 4 ways to save money

Austin Ban


On my previous post in my On a Budget series I talked about the importance of planning and I promised a post about saving money. No matter how long and meticulously¬†you plan it’ll all be pointless if you don’t commit so keep in mind that it’s all for a good cause. Here are¬†4 ways to set aside some extra money for your dream holiday.

1. Know your money

Before doing anything else, grab your bank statements and study it hard. Take note of exactly how much money you make and how much you expend each week and month. You need to know exactly where your earnings are going as it is so easy to lose track of small expenses. When I first left my parents house and moved to NZ, I used to carry a notebook with me every where and write down every single cent coming in and out of my account and wallet. I’d write down even coins I found on the sidewalk, it all added up! I only bought a TV a year after arriving in Wellington and by then I had a part-time minimum wage job but I knew exactly how many hours I had to work to pay for it. I guess I should do that again, now that my income has improved a bit I end up taking a few things for granted and overspending. Having a clear picture of your financial situation will allow you to determine what kind of sacrifices you’re willing to make.

2. Take inventory and sell the excess

Last October I moved house and for an entire year I lived quite nicely with several unopened boxes in my garage. Some of those things were personal belongings that I only keep for their sentimental value, but the rest was just useless stuff. Pretty and in good condition, but rendered useless over time for me. Maybe someone else would be interested in buying some of it? And there are so many ways of selling unwanted items: online auction websites like Trade Me will take a commission out of your sale but you can use Facebook groups instead. You can also create a nice ad and put it up common areas in your workplace or at your local supermarket. You can also organize a good old yard sale, put up flyers around your neighbourhood and spread the word. Be realistic about prices, prepare to bargain and save all your profit.

Jonas Nilsson Lee

3. Turn skills into services

What kind of hobbies do you have? Do you play any instruments or know any other language? What about turning that skill into a service you can offer for a fee? Create an ad on sites like Fiverr or Gigbucks¬†and reach out to people. Alternatively, let your friends know of your intentions and offer to mow their lawn, baby-sit, pet-sit, give private lessons…. NZ is famous for its DIY mentality but not everyone has the luxury of time these days, so take advantage of that if you have lots of spare time on your hands. Do extra shifts at work or you can even go a step further and take up a second job.¬†Got a spare room but don’t actually feel like taking up a flat mate? List it on Airbnb¬†and host guests travelling to your location.

4. Cut down to the bare necessities

Ok, making more money can be quite challenging. What about spending less then? Make your meals ahead of time and instead of buying lunch, take it from home. Change your internet/mobile plans or provider for a cheaper option, switch power companies, take shorter showers, walk to work or carpool. Go a semester or even a whole year without buying any new clothes/shoes. Reduce the amount of nights out or define a budget for when you’re having drinks with friends and stick to it. Favour free activities over paid events. Grow your own vegetables, stock up on groceries on special, join loyalty programs so you can pay discounted prices, shop smart. Pay your bills on time and setup direct debt/online billing as most companies offer nice discounts when doing that. Exercise outdoors or at home instead of joining a gym. I always joke that you should shower at the gym if you’re paying for a membership just to get your money’s worth but we all know there’s some truth in that. Always carry a full, re-usable water bottle with you. Instead of buying books and magazines, borrow them from the nearest library. Don’t pay for cable, Netflix is coming to NZ early next year (if you’re with Slingshot, you can access it now). Put a strategy in place that works for you and always keep your end goal in sight. ¬† ¬†

Sometimes we waste so much time creating excuses to justify why we can’t do something that we forget so many people actually just do them. I’ve done them, five years ago, out of necessity. Now I’m saving money because travelling is my priority but it takes discipline, commitment and creativity. What about you? What do you do when you need/want to save money? Feel free to leave a comment and share it with me.

(Photos by: 1. Austin Ban & 2. Jonas Nilsson Lee.)

5 steps to planning a trip on a budget



December seems very promising and exciting but it’s hard not to think ahead and daydream about the new year that’s fast approaching. I used to keep long lists of resolutions and goals but nowadays, I prefer to focus on a single word. The word I’ve chosen for 2015 is explore. I want to explore new ideas, different skills, new paths and possibilities. And, of course, new places. With that in mind, I put together a short list of 5 steps to planning a trip on a budget I hope you’ll find useful.


1. Define a purpose

Having a clear purpose is all about simplifying the decision making process as much as possible. Why book luxury accommodation if you’re just going to a concert? Why set aside so much money for shopping if you’re actually planning a romantic second honeymoon? Be honest with yourself and don’t be afraid to follow your guts. It’s your holiday and there’s nothing wrong with doing your own thing instead of joining thousands of others in the same old itineraries. If you know exactly what you want out of it, it’ll be a lot easier to decide on where to go, where to stay and what to do once you get there.


davide ragusa


2. Set a budget

A lot of people postpone travel plans because they think they’ll never have enough money to cover their dream holiday. Of course that amount will vary depending on life style, income, desired destination and the purpose given to the trip. But one thing won’t change: if you don’t have a set figure, you’ll never get there. It’s important to know how much you can put aside and commit to it. Also, divide that budget into categories like activities, emergencies and accommodation and assign each one a priority. You might reach your goal sooner than you think.


3. Save, save, save

It’s so easy to lose track of minor daily expenses but every dollar adds up! It’s basic math: if you buy a coffee every morning on your way to work for $3, in a week you’ll spend $15, and that same amount could be used to buy lunch in Lima or a museum ticket in Rome. So, which one do you prefer? In the long run, which one will bring you more joy?

There are basically two ways of saving money: making more and/or spending less. If you’re not feeling very creative, my next post will give you a few ideas on how to accomplish that, so keep an eye out! click here!


gabriel santiago



4. Do your homework

Research is key¬†and Google is your best friend. Travel books are a good starting point but they become outdated fairly quickly. So research online, look up¬†official websites as well as travel blogs and forums Make the most of all the information that’s readily available on the internet and use it to your advantage, but take it with a grain of salt. If you find one bad story about a place you really want to visit, don’t cross it off your list just yet. Bad experiences can be caused by all sorts of reasons and some of them are quite subjective. Take note of weather during certain times of the year, public holidays, big events, local cuisine and city areas. If going to another country, try to learn some basic phrases in the local language.


5. Bookings and other arrangements

It’s common knowledge that when it comes to flights, the early bird catches the worm and pays the best price. Although some recent studies suggest that perhaps too much in advance won’t guarantee the best bargain, aim for at least 3 months before the intended date. I always check prices on Webjet and then compare with deals available on each airline’s website. I also love Skyscanner as it has the option to set an alert and monitor price changes for you. Make sure you have enough time to arrange tourist visas and vaccination, if necessary, and don’t forget travel insurance.


At the moment my husband and I are planning a very special camping trip around the North Island later this month and I’m so excited to share all the details with you!


(Photos by: 1. Sylwia Bartyzel; 2. Davide Ragusa & 3. Gabriel Santiago.)