Cheaper than a Free Lunch: Budget Travel

| November 28, 2011

This post is timely because 1. winter break is approaching & 2. I am currently looking to book a trip to visit my friend in Jakarta, Indonesia.  I have never been to Southeast Asia, so, while there I’d like to visit mainly Indonesia, but possibly Thailand, Laos, and Cambodia, too. I tend to pack light, travel cheaply and take some decent photographs along the way. To plan my trips, I like to do a little investigation. I ask friends/family members if they have traveled to said destination. If not, I do a little background research. I check for:

  • available student discounts, cheaper days of the week to travel & try to apply my airline miles to tickets;
  • the best times to travel to avoid crowds, high prices, and crazy weather (i.e. hurricane or monsoon season);
  • what clothing (taking culture and weather into consideration)/toiletries (including insect repellant or sunscreen depending on the climate) I should bring with me;
  • where to stay — availability of hostels, hotels, apartments (hostelworld.com, airbnb.com or couchsurfing.org);
  • the best touristy sites to visit, and more importantly, where NOT to visit;
  • the currency exchange rate, how much cash to bring along, availability of exchange places/ATMs

A great deal of information is found by doing web research or asking around. Some links are provided above. I tend to use Lonely Planet Guides when I travel. More about them below. As for booking airline tickets, I am a fan of Kayak.com, but I also subscribe to  Airfarewatchdog.com. It’s free to join — they send you (usually last-minute) airfare deals to destinations of your choosing on an hourly, daily, or weekly basis. Pretty cool feature. I once left for Tokyo, Japan the day after I booked a R/T ticket for $456 including tax — yep, amazing — I know ;).

Below are some books I would like bring with me on my journey. Some are at TC or Columbia. Others can be easily purchased online. If you cannot find a book in our stacks, you may request that TC purchase the item to be added to our collection. Information regarding requests can be found here. Here is a long list of Indonesian fiction.

Books from the Stacks

Various historical novels are fun during lazy beach days, or on the airplane — they give you a sense of the country before you leave.

Title: This earth of mankind; translated and with an afterword by Max Lane (available at Barnard & Butler)

Author: Pramoedya Ananta Toer

Published: New York , Penguin, 1996, c1990

Location 1: Barnard

Call Number:     PL5089.T8 B8413 1996

Location 2: Butler Stacks

Call Number:     PL5089.T8 B8413 1996g

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Title: Saman : a novel; translated by Pamela Allen; 1st Equinox ed.

Author: Ayu Utami

Published: Jakarta, Equinox Publishing Indonesia, c2005

Location: Columbia Offsite – Place Request for delivery within 2 business days

Call Number: PL5089.U83 S2613 2005g

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Title: Black clouds over the Isle of Gods and other modern Indonesian short stories

Translated and edited by David M.E. Roskies

Publisher: Armonk, N.Y., M.E. Sharpe, 1997

Location 1: Barnard

Call Number: PL5088 .B57 1997

Location 2: Butler Stacks

Call Number: PL5088 .B57 1997

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Books to check out on Amazon.com

Lonely Planet Guides are amazing…they help answer most of the questions above, like where to stay, where to eat, current political climate, where to go and how to get there. I used these guides when I backpacked in India and Egypt. Of course, there are other guides out there, but this one best fits my needs because it’s broken up by budget type.