Travelling, discovering new cultures, making new friends is perhaps the only way to ensure you remain young in spirit. And because the globe has so many wonderful places to explore, it is not hard to decide where to go next. Neither is it a task to figure out travel arrangements and accommodation; the choices available are plenty to satisfy any grade of lifestyle preference.
With these two things taken care of, you can set off on great adventures. But wait a minute – you also have to figure out other travel expenses; spending on food, getting around the city, tickets to shows, museums, boat rides and whatever little (or more) shopping you end up doing. All of this put together can cause quite a dent in your pocket.
These days many are peddling a simple solution – credit. Take a loan. Travel on EMI. If you are as greedy a traveller as me, taking that loan may seem like a lesser evil than not exploring the planet. However, I must caution you that taking on debt for pleasure can tear an even bigger hole in your pocket.
Instead try to make your travel affordable; along the way you may end up discovering a lot more than you bargained for.
Five tips for making your travel affordable
Begin a new year with planning your holidays. It’s a fun and positive way to start the calendar. You can check the long weekends you get and any other standard breaks. Mark out the 2/3/4 times you want to travel out in the year. List out your most desirable destinations in order of priority and fill in the dates. Don’t stop at that – book your return tickets. If you always crave company while travelling, rope in your friends too for this exercise and do it collectively.
With others involved you may not be able to plan ahead all the times you want to take a break but at least you will be able to settle of a few of them.
Once tickets are booked, plans become inviolable. Plus booking ahead can give you a good price on refundable tickets.
The rest is easy.
It’s become a lot simpler now with choices like Air bnb. If you are travelling with others, this is perhaps a more comfortable and desirable option than inexpensive hotels or even hostels. Spend some time researching to pick accommodation that is not too far from the city centre or the places you want to explore. If breakfast can be included in the accommodation costs, it becomes more economical. Once again, the sooner you can get this done, the better pricing you are likely to get – at least for the popular destinations.
The two steps above were more about optimising your spending in the planning phase. Once you reach there too, you need to be conscious about how you are spending.
It helps to stay close to the city centre or the places you want to explore as you can easily walk around to many places and you have easy access to public transport too.
The tourist buses or taxis can get expensive, its best to figure out the local route and means to and fro from where you stay. Along with saving money, walking around and using local transport gives you the opportunity to fully explore a place and also meet interesting people. Not to mention that walking the streets will keep you fit despite all the indulgent holiday eating.
I understand that not everyone likes to experiment with their eating habits. In fact, we Indians are in the habit of carrying our own food whether we are travelling a 100 kms or a 1000 kms. Carrying your own food will perhaps make it cheaper (unless you get charged for excess baggage!) but, it deprives you of the local delicacies. You needn’t go to fine dine restaurants to find the local gourmet food, its usually available on street corners and in busy markets. Its fresh, tasty and also a good way to keep your food costs at a minimum.
If you really don’t have a taste for the local cuisine, or are repulsed by the animal-based cooking, then walk into local super markets and buy fresh food. Fruits, salads, bakery breads are appetising and an inexpensive way to satisfy your cravings.
You will be surprised to know that India is not the only country where you can negotiate the cost of souveniers, local shopping and even boat rides. If you find that you can’t bargain in one area, research a bit and find a less expensive market – there is sure to be one around somewhere. In some places, this may not work. For those times you always have photographs to create memories. Capturing the moment in an immortal picture is the best souveneir you can take back.
Put all this together and you have gifted yourself a great vacation at an affordable budget. I am still hungover from travelling to picture perfect landscapes this summer. Unfortunately, as hard as I may have tried, the camera couldn’t capture perfectly what the eye were gorging on.
But travel you must. In the words of Hans Christian Anderson “To travel is to Live.”