One of the biggest hurdles which make people put off travel even if they want to is money. Travel is never a cheap business and tourism makes is even more expensive. Putting aside the long drawn battle between the traveller and tourist, we must be thinking of how to make travelling an affair which is as light on the pockets as it is on the heart.
So when people ask, why do I travel on such shoestring budgets. Saving money on one travel makes sure that I am able to manage another trip to somewhere else within the limited resources I have. Budget travel is not cheap to travel, it is just another way of life and I flatter myself talking about it often. So here are a few pearls of wisdom from my experience…
1. Accommodation: Accommodation is the single largest drain on a Traveler’s pockets in an alien land. To save money, stay away from Hotels and look for dorms, hostels or home-stays. If you have to get a hotel, try to get it away from the main road in the lanes where prices are generally less. Also, as far as possible, book in advance. Group size is also important when considering the cost of accommodation. Try to keep the group size between 3-5 to keep the costs minimal. Personally speaking, I have stayed in hostels in Thailand, Cambodia and Srilanka with a staying expense of $5-10 and enjoyed the experience a lot, as I got to meet fellow travellers from around the world and share experiences.
2. Public Transport: The first thing which you need to do as soon as you land up in a new place is to buy a tourist map which marks the routes of public transports and the bus and train stations. Taxis are not the best way to go around if you want to save money and they also keep you secluded from the local populace. To get a flavour of the local society, travel as the locals do.
3. Discounts are Beautiful: I learnt the art of getting discounts much later that should have done. Whether it is booking flight tickets or booking accommodation try to make use of discounts as much as possible.
4. Eat Less: I cannot say for others, but I have noticed that whenever we are on a non-budget trip, restaurant bills form a disproportionate part of our expenses. We tend to mix travelling and partying very often. So, to keep the expenses less, it is important that we keep a tab on what we eat. Ordering a meal/thali often saves money when compared to an A la carte.
5. Plan in Advance: Going ad-hoc in travel may sound philosophically cool but it often ends up making the trips uncomfortable and costlier. Therefore it is better to do a proper planning, make bookings in advance and prepare an itinerary of the places which are to be visited. Prioritize the places you want to see and try to discard the more touristy and less value for your time places. Try the online forums for Budget travellers and get tips about the places you are travelling to.
6. Keep your shopping bags light: To tell not to shop at all will be a little unfair, but one needs to know that budget and shopping do not go together very well. While buying souvenirs is fine, it is better to avoid going on a shopping spree. If you are one of those shopaholic types, better stay away from the shopping areas.
7. Know your currency: The currency of your country is an important factor on how much your financial budget weighs down on your shoulders. It will be a good idea to know the exchange rates and choose those destinations which swing favourably towards your currency. For example, if I have to see snow clad mountains abroad, I would rather go to Nepal or Bhutan than to Switzerland.
In the end, every penny saved is another penny for the next journey.. keep that in mind 🙂