Who doesn’t have dreams to see the world? Just ask those around you what they would do if they got a surprise ₹ 1 Crore in their bank today — most of the answers are sure to include “travel”. But what if only a few simple steps could make your dream vacation a reality?
Here are my 10 tips to travel smart!
1) Decide your destination and budget well in advance
For a domestic holiday, it’s best to plan 3–4 months in advance, while for an international holiday — depending on where you want to go — 6–12 months are required. This means setting aside a separate fund for your dream holiday. Preferably, break the budget into flights, hotels, activities and daily expenses, to know where to balance.
2) Look for deals on flight tickets
In most cases, the flight cost is the highest and the most variable component in holiday budgeting. If you have the advantage of time, watch out for many sales and offers on online travel portals and flight portals. This could be a potential savings of 15% -30%.
3) Explore alternative flight connections
We know that a flight with multiple stops instead of just one will cost you less, in addition to this, checking for alternative cities to fly off from can make a difference too. Instead of flying directly into Singapore, opt for a via Kuala Lumpur flight, this could mean a reduction of about 20%. Instead of flying directly from a city with single or limited flights, consider choosing a main metro with multiple flight options.
4) Check for package deals
Gone are the days when packages only offered the traditional ‘travel-in-a-coach’ feature. Now, you have the advantage of customizing and personalizing your travel with assistance from a destination expert. Apart from the benefit of price, booking a package saves your time, effort and could also be a great way to get company! If you have been dreaming to do that bike trail in Ladakh, instead of holding it off, try booking a package for a cheaper deal and make a few friends along the way!
5) Consider staying a bit off the city centre with good local transport facilities
Accommodation options which are slightly off the main city centre would be at least 20% cheaper (depending on the city). Ensure walking distance to a local metro or a bus station.
6) Try local street food and explore free local experiences
The joy of a delightful meal while on a holiday with those you love, cannot be underestimated. Instead of sticking to familiar cuisine, schedule at least one local meal every day. This will be a big boost to your vacation experience — with memories to cherish and stories to tell for a long time. From savouring the fresh fruit on the streets of Thailand to gobbling off a plate of Churros in Spain to enjoying Raw Chilli Mango in Ooty, there is always something local, and super affordable, at every destination.
7) Explore local experiences which are free of cost
Local free walking guided tours, for example, are not uncommon any more. With a bit of research, you can find several cultural tours/UNESCO World Heritage sites, which are free or negligibly priced — book in advance to ensure you are not disappointed on tour.
8) Use a prepaid forex card instead of swiping your credit/debit card
Apart from ensuring that you stick to the planned budget, prepaid forex cards are cheaper than charges levied on debit or credit cards. If that is not reason enough, consider safety against theft with available assistance/blocking card in case of emergency and the convenience of using a single card across multiple countries.
9) Buy travel insurance
Protecting yourself against any mishaps on a vacation is a must-have. A good travel insurance would not only cover medical or accidental emergencies in a different country but also non-medical situations such as lost baggage, lost passport. There is a huge variety of options available at reasonable rates — can be picked for a limited duration or even year-long in case of frequent travellers.
10) Keep aside your shopping and indulgence fund
New places mean new goodies, which means an uncontrollable desire to buy! Pre-plan for this, not by holding back, but by planning these spends in advance. If needed, make a separate envelope earmarked for a daily indulgence. It could be buying that local artwork or their latest fashion or simply enjoying a fancy fine-dining meal — pick what you love and indulge yourself.