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There are five major things that determine the overall cost of a trip but if you are low on budget and still wish to keep your travel dreams alive I have some tips to help you plan your next low budget trip. These are the factors which I feel make or break any travel itinerary.
Flight tickets: Depending upon how early you book a flight and for what month you book a flight the tickets to any destination the flight charges may range from very low to very high. Since the fares are dynamic even the cities that are closest to your starting location may cost you as much as Nasa’s Space missions. Popular destinations have a holiday season during which they get the highest number of tourists. For example, a hill station will host most tourists during summers when it is scorching heat in other parts of the world. While some hill stations get tourists when there is snowfall and tourists can get to do ski and other winter sports.
So before booking a ticket first thing to remember is to book a ticket as early as possible, I usually book tickets 3 months in advance. Direct flights are usually expensive so if you love to travel to many countries at the cost of one buy tickets with at least 1 very long stoppage. Try sites like Kayak, Google flight and Clear Trip calendar to find the best time to fly between to places.
Hotel or lodging expenses: So you wish to stay in a 5 star or 3-4 star hotel is another deciding factor that predicts your overall cost of the travel itinerary. During vacations, hotels have heavy bookings and the prices usually go up. In India, this happens during the marriage season usually from November to February.
The trick to book any hotel at an affordable prices is to first select a locality where you wish to stay, the place should be at most 1-2 hours from an airport and should be within the reach of other public transports this will save you a lot of money in the long run, whenever you wish to eat or travel to a tourist site in that city you won’t be spending too much on travel.
The next step is to go on Google.com and search for the term a hotels in “and the name of that place where you wish to stay” so if I were to find hotels in Bangkok, I would search for the term “Hotels in Bangkok”, now you will see the hotel booking results somewhere after 3-4 results with their locations on Google Map. Google picks up feeds from various sites on the internet to show you the cheapest prices, you can sort the results by ratings, hotel class, amenities and much more.
Apart from this some of the prominent sites which you can visit are, Agoda, Trivago and Hotels.com etc if you traveling in a group booking an apartment from Airbnb will be a cost-effective option where you can cook and divide the total amount amongst each other.
You may also try dormitories, hostels, Capsule Hotels etc. Safety should be your prime concern when traveling to certain sensitive countries.
While booking a hotel make sure that you have basic facilities like free Wi-Fi, breakfast, drinking water etc. even the most expensive hotels may not offer you these facilities for free.
(Remember:- Every hotel keeps a security deposit which they refund you once you check out, this cost may be very high so enquire via phone or search the web before booking anything)
Using cheap public transport or rent a bike: If the places you wish to visit are far away from your hotel and are not well connected by public transports like buses and metro trains, the best way to go is to rent a bike for an entire day. These rental shops will take some security deposit and give you a bike of your choice which will be far cheaper than cabs or taxis, remember to fill the gas. Busses and metro trains are also a great way to save money. While I was in Singapore, metros saved us a lot of money as the Uber service was quite expensive and time-consuming. Similarly, we used the bus service while we were in Penang, Malaysia which was very cheap, affordable and comfortable way of traveling. It is best to check out the routes or ask someone to help you with the bus number if you are unsure.
Tips save money on food while traveling
Apart from living and traveling the next big thing is food. Some of the ways in which you can cut the cost in food are by following these simple tips.
- Have a heavy breakfast which is usually free with your hotel booking. A heavy breakfast which includes slow digesting carbohydrates will ensure you do not feel hungry for long hours. Just make sure you book a room that has a free meal included, if not you can try a supermarket nearby and buy some groceries for the morning breakfast, like bread, butter, and jam.
- Check the Google Maps or ask someone about the local market which sells snacks, and carry a packet of biscuits, peanuts, snacks. Chips are very light and usually, you will start feeling hungry with 30-45 mins of having a packet of chips and cold drink so you should avoid it in the long run, go for milk if you are not lactose intolerant like me or burger instead. We were lucky enough to have found Seven11 and several other stores which are open 24×7 and have nearly everything for your daily needs.
- Fill your water bottles, before you leave your hotel especially when you are traveling during hot summers, you will feel thirsty and end up buying a lot of water bottles, coconuts or something to hydrate yourself. So it’s better to carry a 1-liter bottle which remains chilled throughout the day and keeps you hydrated.
- Avoid buying from places which are tourist traps, one such example is a beach area, where nearly everything you buy will be double the price. It is hence best suggested that you carry your food items beforehand.
- Family restaurants are expensive when compared to roadside street food, but the chances of falling sick due to stomach infection does increase, you should always prefer places which are popular among locals, when you see a huge line at any stall you know its popular, or the best thing is to just ask the person who is eating about his reviews, buy a small part before going for a full-on meal.
Avoiding tourist traps:- tourist traps are the things or services designed just for the tourists so they can pay extra money. A good example is a photo shoot, where you go to a tourist destination and find a cameraman randomly clicking your picture and asking some hard cash for your picture. That may seem enticing but in the 21st century, everyone has a camera phone if not a DSLR camera, wasting money on such things might not be the best thing on a budget travel. Similarly, you may find certain shopkeepers hiking their prices when they realize you are not a local, the best way to handle such cases is either to bargain or to exit such deals.
Similarly, if you goto certain countries you will find shopkeepers showing you a new product and replacing it with an old one when they pack it for you.
I hope these tips come in handy and will help you from overspending on your upcoming trip. Please share your tips and opinions in the comment section below.