Tourism

Cash Confessions Travel: How I only spent $1400 on Maldives holiday

The secret of the Maldives is most definitely out, with Australians flocking to the region in their thousands every year.

But when it comes to travelling to a luxurious location, two things spring to mind. Honeymooners, and a big old credit card bill at the end of your stay.

As one of the most sought-after destinations in the world — with some resorts costing around $10k a night — the concept of going alone, mingling with gushy newlyweds and sipping on overpriced cocktails might drop the holiday hotspot down on your bucket list pretty quickly.

But for 41-year-old marriage celebrant Michelle Anderson, the concept of being surrounded by recently wedded couples splashing around in the tropical waters of the Indian Ocean played as no deterrent.

In fact, having recently split from her long-term partner, the glistening waters framed by white sands became even more enticing — especially since nabbing return flights to the capital of Malé for less than $400.

But unlike the rich and famous, or the loved-up couples spending their wishing-well haul on overwater bungalows — Ms Anderson had a big constraint with her trip.

She only had around $1400 to last her 14 nights (excluding flights). That’s $100 a day for food, accommodation, transport and a cocktail or two in one of the most exorbitant holiday spots in the world.

“The Maldives had always been a place on my list, but I’d also always known it as a big honeymoon destination — and very expensive to stay,” Ms Anderson told news.com.au for the Cash Confessions Travel series, where we ask savvy travellers how they save, budget and spend their money while on holidays.

“But after breaking up with my partner six months before I decided to go there, I saw these cheap return flights to Malé (the capital of the Maldives) and booked.

“The sale was so cheap, and even though it was a long flight, I didn’t see any reason not to go there.”

But instead of spending thousands on an overnight stay, Ms Anderson — a seasoned traveller who’s been to 30 countries around the world — had to make a few alterations to her itinerary to stay within budget.

“When I went in April 2018, guesthouses on local islands had recently become legal,” she explained.

“Basically, that meant locals opened their homes up to tourists, whereas beforehand you could only stay at resorts.

“So I would be paying around $40 a night including breakfast and would simply do day trips to the resorts or swim out from the main island. It meant I was able to still taste the lifestyle of the Maldives without the full price tag.”

Ms Anderson said another way she saved money was to avoid expensive tour operators. She became familiar with locals who often took her out on boat trips to islands or scooter rides around town.

“When you get to your guesthouse and check-in, you get to know the locals pretty quickly,” she said.

“Instead of high-end tours, I was introduced to friends of the people I stayed with who provided me with local experience. That way, I was also injecting money into an island that doesn’t typically attract tourists.

“Going on a boat to one of the 300 islands in the area may not be as direct as an expensive tour, but I didn’t mind sitting on a boat for three hours to get somewhere — especially when the water is so clear! The pictures don’t do it justice.”

As a solo female traveller, Ms Anderson said the biggest struggle she found while in the Maldives was the lack of alcohol in the Muslim country. But she quickly discovered a fun — and relatively cheap — alternative for a sunset drink.

“What we would do is go to excursions to other islands for a drink or even out on to the water,” she explained.

“Because of the dry laws, we would often take a boat out to a yacht anchored in international waters where they would serve drinks. It was mainly Australians and Germans, but it was a lot of fun.”

Ms Anderson said if she had been travelling with a friend or partner, her trip to the Maldives could’ve been even cheaper.

“The Maldives is all the best bits of Asia without any of the annoying factors,” she said.

“Because I was travelling solo, I was not able to split costs. So instead of $40 a night on accommodation, it could’ve been $20 if I had someone.

“During the two weeks, I went to seven islands in total, which was one of the more expensive things I did during the stay. But with a bit of extra research, I was still able to do beautiful things but on a smaller scale. So there were no fancy lunches or day trips, instead, I did it on a word-of-mouth basis with locals.

“I love it because it meant I could travel within budget and have a more authentic experience.”

Michelle’s five top tips for travelling on a budget:

1. Take your own goggles, snorkel and flippers for snorkelling. Otherwise, you have to hire them at each place you go to.

2. I project which bills are going to be due between now and one month after I get back, including the time that I’m gone. I work out an approximate minimum mandatory requirement for the trip and add that to the bills. Then I can see a complete overview of how much money I’m going to need and what sort of cash flow will be required overall.

3. The biggest thing to go is costly social gatherings; it’s a barbecue at home rather than drinks at the pub.

4. I swap from bottled wine to cask. Also, no takeaway food or restaurants while in savings mode.

5. Try and travel with hand luggage only.

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Source URL: Google News

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