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Original photo by Satomi Hayashi

How to Travel for Cheap With Your Friends

Korea, Singapore, Hong Kong, New York, Taiwan ...

These are all places I've visited since entering ICU. I took most of these trips with friends, so I was always on a budget! After all these trips, I feel like I'm kind of an expert on traveling cheaply. My latest visit to Taiwan—right before the pandemic—was a great trip and I was able to save a lot of money. In this article I'll share some basic tips for budget-friendly travel, alongside my experience in Taiwan!

Also, this article kicks off our Writing Team's summer writing event! The first topic is TRAVEL, followed by other categories such as beauty, fashion, and music. This week you'll be getting a couple of articles from our members all related to the topic of "travel." I hope all our articles are insightful and will help you when you start planning for trips after the pandemic.

Scoring a Cheap Flight

The first thing you want to check out when planning for travel is the flight ticket. Traveling by plane can be quite expensive and the price of tickets varies depending on the date, time, and the kind of service the company provides. 

When I traveled to Taiwan, I used Expedia: a service that compares flights for you and suggests the cheapest ones available. Use these sites that will compare flights for you, because there are so many airlines out there and it'll take days to figure out which option is the best if you research on your own! If you really want to travel cheaply, then make sure you book your flight at least a month prior to your trip, especially if you're traveling with friends! 

If you decide to book the cheapest flight, I'm sure you'll be using an LCC (Low Cost Carrier) airline. One way to really save your money is by only packing a carry-on. If it's a short trip just bring essentials! My friends and I only had backpacks and a small handbag with us for our trip to Taiwan. If you're traveling with a friend that you live with, then you can also bring one suitcase and use it together because you'll both be coming back to the same place anyway!

Hotel or AirBnB?

Hotel or Airbnb? Honestly, it depends on how many people you're traveling with and where you want to spend your money. Not all hotels are super expensive, and not all Airbnbs are always the best fit!

Before my trip to Taiwan this year, I had visited before with four of my friends. We were a group of five, so it made more sense to rent a house than multiple hotel rooms. We stayed for three days and we each paid around ¥5000, because we were charged for the house and not by the number of people. I also used an Airbnb this time, but we only rented a room in an apartment, so it was pretty loud and kind of sketchy.

Just remember that when you travel by LCC, you tend to arrive to your destinations at odd times. Airbnb's sometimes require you to meet the owner to get the keys, so it may not always be the best option! 

Use Public Transit

When in Taiwan, Korea, Hong Kong, and Singapore use public transportation! These places have cheap and easy-to-use metros. You can pretty much get to any famous tourist site by train. Instead of paying for the train fare every time you get on, just buy a metrocard to save some money! 

Oh, but don't think the trains are like the ones in Japan, because many of these metros don't allow you to drink or eat on the trains!

I personally don't really use buses because I get paranoid that I'm going to miss a stop, but if you can navigate yourself, definitely hop on one! 


For me, traveling is 60% about FOOD!

I love going into restaurants that are popular among tourists because I know they'll be good. Din Tai Fung is a must-visit spot in Taiwan! Their stores are massive so you won't have to wait long and can enjoy Taiwan cuisine for an affordable price. These tourist-friendly shops are great but most of the time the best food is sold in local shops! 

In Taiwan, my friends and I had originally planned to go to this famous store for bread and soy milk. However, the store wasn't open so we were walking along the street and found a store with lots of locals. The price of the food sold was super cheap and it was delicious. I also recommend asking your Airbnb host or hotel clerks where their favorite restaurants are! 

Visit Maokong (猫空)

If you want to enjoy scenery, food, and get away from the city, head to Maokong! It is in Taipei city and is located on a mountain, where you can drink locally made tea. 

To get to Maokong, you take a gondola up the mountain and at the top, you can walk around to go to cafes and restaurants that serve tea and dishes that include tea leaves! The scenery is absolutely amazing because most of these cafes are right next to the tea plantations. There are stops along the mountain and you HAVE to get off at Zhinan Temple Station! I recommend going right when the sun is about to set because the temples light up to create a mesmerizing view. It's a great place to go, especially to relax. It's also not crowded with tourists for some reason, so go before everyone else discovers it!

Handling Money When Traveling With Friends

When you're traveling with your friends, pool your money in a ziplock bag or something, so you don't have to worry about splitting the bill. It is a real hassle trying to collect money from everyone in a currency you're not familiar with. Before you start your trip, collect ¥10,000 to cover food expenses and other necessities that you may all use! 

That's the end of the first article for TRAVEL!

I talked about some basic tips for traveling on a budget, but Risa do you know any other travel hacks? Stay tuned for our next article to find out!


Satomi Hayashi

ICU Japan '22

Hey, I'm Satomi Hayashi, apart of Her Campus ICU Japan! I hope to have fun writing and working with fellow Her Campus members!!
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