Vacation is the time for people to unwind, rejuvenate, and in the flow, spend a tad extra than they intend to. After all, everyone wants to have a good time. However, it doesn’t always need stretching your budget or overspending. With some careful planning, you can wind up your trip within your budget, and experience it more as a traveller, and less as a tourist. Here’s how.
Prepare a budget and stick to it
This is easier said than done. Put aside the money you want to spend on your holiday and work with it as a constant amount. Don’t commit the mistake of scoping only for flights, hotel and sightseeing. Your budget should account for meals, snacks, tickets, last-mile travel expenses, souvenirs, shopping, and a small emergency fund. Put together, these expenses could shoot up your budget drastically. Budgeting is a good way to prevent unnecessary expenses for two reasons: first, the research that goes into making a budget gives you a fair understanding about the cost of living in the place you’re about to visit. And second, it sets a cap on the amount of money you can spend, thereby preventing impulse purchases.
Choose your accommodation wisely
When choosing an accommodation, make sure that it is located close to most of the areas you plan to visit. Even if the cost is slightly higher, you can save on time, and the cost of commuting. Besides location, look for things like free breakfast; free Wi-Fi, essential amenities, access to the kitchen or a microwave oven in your room etc. These small in-room amenities can save you time, money, and space in your luggage.
Use airline miles and hotel loyalty programs
If you’re a frequent flier or a regular guest, make sure to take full advantage of the ‘loyalty programs’ of various players. Benefits like lounge access, free upgrades, complimentary room nights, free cancellation, and discounted rates come with loyalty points. In some cases, you can even use your points for shopping with other brands. These loyalty points, though slightly complex, are very helpful for the tech-savvy traveller to save money and enjoy free perks. To get more such benefits, you can also opt for tailor-made credit cards.
Most places experience the highest concentration of tourists over the course of just a few weeks or months, called the peak seasons. The increase in demand for resources, owing to the large number of visitors, could skyrocket the prices of travel, accommodation and food. To avoid this, visiting places during ‘off seasons’, i.e. the period between two peak season cycles, makes it financially wise. Some also argue that travelling off-season offers a more authentic experience of your destination.
Look for free activities
Many tourist destinations offer a host of free or subsidised activities and events, such as air shows, parades, carnivals, exhibitions, or museum exhibits. These activities and events are mostly engaging and often give an insight into the local culture and customs. They are priced lower than most things you can do in a city, but are necessarily well-known. That’s why thorough research, preferably with the help of local newspapers or regional apps, about the place you’re planning to visit is advisable.
Ask the locals
Whether it’s online or in person, local residents are always a reliable source of information about good and affordable places to explore, visit, and eat, especially when you’re looking for some real, non-touristy experiences. Coming from years of experience, their invaluable information about the place you’re visiting cannot just save you a lot of money, but also enhance your experience by showing you a distinct side of the place that only the locals know of.
Spend more time at one place
Hopping from one destination to another, for example on a Eurotrip or in Rajasthan, may seem like a fun holiday. It can however end up being far more expensive, with little or no relaxation. It’s more economical to spend more time in fewer places, owing to the cost of inter-city travel. Not to miss, spending a few days at a single place allows you to experience the culture to the fullest.
Opt for overnight travel options
Taking late-night buses and trains, and in some cases even flights, works out to be substantially more economical than opting for day journeys. It helps you save on the accommodation expenses and the day time you’d spend commuting. Buy tickets for a train or a sleeper bus for an overnight journey next time you’ve to travel to a different city.
(The writer is Co-Founder of Treebo Hotels)