Vacation time is possibly the most wonderful time of the year.
Albeit, not every one of us is fortunate enough to travel due to numerous reasons, travel is an essential part of life and is necessary to broaden one’s perspective on matters concerning life.
However, if one is persistent enough, travel doesn’t have to be hard on our pockets either. Following are a few simple steps to follow and remember before you start planning your next trip!
1. Start with a plan
The most important mistake one can make when it comes to traveling ON A BUDGET is to travel without any plan in place.
When we say plan, you don’t necessarily have to list out every single place you’d want to visit. Rather focus on how you plan to get there, where you plan to stay when you do and how much you plan to explore in a day.
2. Try ignoring ‘bucket lists’
Sometimes, the best way to travel when you get to a destination is to just follow the road and wherever it takes you. This means that you don’t have to get upset and go out of your way to see or experience something just because someone else has told you about it or you saw it on that popular Instagrammer’s page.
Sometimes, the best experiences are had when they’re impromptu.
This also most of the times ensures that these experiences are tailor-made for you and you don’t end up spending out of your way. Furthermore, this is most definitely the best way to experience another culture from an outsider’s perspective.
3. Modes of travel
Next time, try ditching the airplane tickets for a bus journey or maybe even an adventurous train journey by rail.
You won’t regret it. Also, consider options like renting a car for a road trip (when in large groups) and cycle/bike trips to nearby overnight destinations.
4. Where to stay
There are loads of options when it comes to budget stays nowadays. Your best bets include AirBnb homes that you can share with a large group of friends for very cheap or if you’re feeling adventurous, youth hostels are the best places to make friends and travel together. Beach destinations also usually feature beachside shacks and cottages that are generally very cheap to live in.
5. Where to go
When choosing your destination, be smart.
You want to choose somewhere nearby your source location. And choose places that are not other cities (as the costs of living in cities are obviously way higher). Choose port towns, hill stations, village towns and such.
6. Consider ‘backpacking’
Travel light. Always.
You can avoid extra baggage charges anywhere, especially if you only travel by flight. Plus your back and mind will thank you. Less hassle and less weight to worry about.
7. Packaged tours?
Only trust package tours? No worries, some of the best tours are arranged by tour companies. However, avoid packaged tours to places with high tourist frequency and choose tours that are usually lesser opted for. Ask for customized tours to cheap destinations if possible.
That way you can avoid overcrowded destinations that are saturated with tourists and you would have made a wiser decision for the ecosystem of that location.
8. Apps to help you plan
Several apps like Tripoto, Culture trip, etc. are available to help the traveler curate their own trips. Full of information, anecdotes of travel, travel tips and even booking options, these apps help you get an idea of the best way to travel, customized entirely by you.
9. Who to travel with
While you may want the whole family to, extended et all, to be able to travel with you wherever you go, budget friendly travels rely on certain numbers/groups of people. Even numbers are your best bet and you’re sure to find more and cheaper options when you’re traveling in pairs, or in groups of four to eight, or even around a dozen.
The larger the group, the lesser the individual expenses.
10. Keeping tabs
Keeping tabs of expenses at all times is of utmost importance. It helps you gauge where your money is going and also gives you an idea of expenses for any future travels.
11. Apps to help keep tabs
Use your phones calculator and notes apps to keep regular tabs on you at all times.
Even apps like Splitwise, Settle Up, etc. are designed to make keeping tabs of money expenditures easier.
12. Eat local
Opt for local cuisines in the shacks/hotels runs by locals. Interact with shop owners and find out where you can go to experience cuisines that are also light on the pocket.
13. Shop local
Local markets are the most wonderful places, full of mystery around every corner.
And the best part, bargaining works everywhere.
14. Travel during off seasons, at your own risk
This is a common misconception that we seem to be facing these days. And the fact is that local businesses that aim to attract tourists in India, have identified the local on and off seasons for travel and therefore, you will usually find that prices are slashed and there are more sales and offers happening during the on season rather than the off season.
We saw a good example of this in the beach retreat of Gokarna, Karnataka, where during the on season, all the shacks and restaurants were open and available, whereas when we went during the off season, many were shut. Shops were closed. The whole town seemed less lively.
HOWEVER, that being said, this is after all personal experience. The best time to travel sometimes also differs with destinations, and that, therefore, requires some researching.
15. Broaden your scopes, broaden your experiences
Finally, the most important advice to be given when traveling light.
Travel with an open mind.