Many people across the world would love to experience another place, but may be limited by the expenditure a trip entails. But I believe everyone who wants to travel, can. Wherever you are, whatever you do, you can always take the time & budget out to take that trip you’ve wanted to for the longest time. Here are a few simple hacks:
- Find the places closest to you
Whichever part of the world you live in, there will be at least one place easily accessible where you can travel to. Whether it is in the same country or a different continent, find that spot where you don’t need to dedicate 18 hours to travel to!
- Find the places cheapest to travel to from your country
I have learnt that the internet is your best friend while planning a trip. You can search SkyScanner/ Emirates to find a list of places to travel to- All you have to do is enter your dates and say Take Me Anywhere/Inspire Me and voila! You have a list in order of pricing and flight time to help choose your next destination.
- Find the places you don’t need a visa for
As an Indian passport holder, traveling for me becomes quite limited as we require a visa to enter most major countries around the world. However, there are a handful of cities which allow Indian citizens to obtain visa on arrival, and last minute planning becomes easier with this list.
- Find the countries with a currency equal to or lesser than yours
The one great way to go on a budget trip is to find the countries with currencies have a lower value than the currency you earn in. For example, the Dirham in the UAE (Where I live) – Is stronger than a lot of currencies like India, Phillippines, Czech Republic, Sri Lanka, Hungary. You end up spending much lesser and enjoy more!
- Allocate a budget and stick to it
The issue many of us face while traveling is going out of budget and over spending. The easiest way to deal with this is to get a multiple currency card or cash, maxing out at one amount. Leave your credit card behind if you have serious will-power issues- And at the end of the day you will be forced to spend the amount limited to what you have.
- Book your flights 5-8 weeks prior to departure
This one is different depending on time of the month, day, year and whether you’re booking local or international flights. Start doing your research in advance and sign up for fare updates on airline compare websites – I use SkyScanner, Kayak and Musafir. Kayak has come up with ‘Hacker Fares’ – Which provide best possible combinations of flights to give you cheap tickets, this usually includes a combination of different flights each way. I have found the sweet spot for ticket bookings is 5-8 weeks before travel – Always check the airline website before making your final booking to ensure the pricing is in-line, and you are aware of the add-ons, cancellation policies and baggage allowances.
- Book your hotel rooms way in advance
The minute I start thinking I want to travel, I book ‘pay later, free cancellation’ stays on Booking.com (Usually about 3 months before I’m about to travel). I usually end up getting great deals on mid-range or boutique hotels, maxing out at 140$ per night (For 2 adults) for a good property. Also helps being a Genius Booking.com member due to the number of bookings I’ve made, it usually gives me some additional discount. Once you’ve shortlisted your hotels on a hotel compare website (Booking, Tripadvisor, Trivago) – Check out the actual hotel websites. Most chain hotels run a discount on early bookings through their website and may provide additional benefits like early check in, free breakfast etc.
I tend not to Airbnb or CouchSurf as you can actually end up staying at great mid-range hotels for a few dollars extra if planned in advance. For last minute travels you can try HotelsTonight.com – Not used it to book as yet but seems to provide good deals.
- Use multiple websites and travel operators
This is where the effort comes in. I use a minimum of 4 different travel and hotel websites while planning my trip to ensure the best package for myself (and friends). My go to sites have been mentioned above – However if you’re on a time crunch refer to Tripadvisor for hotels, as it usually compares prices from 3 different booking websites, including the hotel website. For flights refer to SkyScanner – It is usually effective and covers most major airlines.
- Pack light
Apart from the obvious ease of traveling light, having less baggage has another major benefit – A lot of local cross country flights charge extra for checked in luggage, and the cost associated with the same can substantially reduce if you have only one bag.
10. Look for the free things to do in the city
Most city tourism websites have a list of free things to do – Which range from walking tours to park visits or even free entry into certain attractions including museums! Always check the city’s official tourism website to ensure you have a list of attractions to cover. They sometimes even offer discount tourism cards which reduce the cost of entry to a large number of tourist spots.
Use Google Trips to keep a track of your itinerary, tickets, bookings etc. It also provides a free guide to the country/ city which can be helpful!
Hope this helps and have a great time planning your next trip!