For many of us, the dream of travelling around the world is limited by how much money we have. Going to any foreign country is an expensive affair: from Visa fees, flight, to accommodation and food. India presents a great opportunity for you to experience the culture without having necessarily to pay a fortune for this service.
Here are a few tips you should keep in mind if you want to maintain a tight control over your budget expenses.
Playing around with your flight schedule can be a great way to save costs. The general rule is that if you want a cheap flight, you go to the most popular airports during their low season when they have great discount offers. The most popular airport destinations are Mumbai and Delhi. From here, you can make your way around the country. For off-season tickets, go during the monsoon months of July to September, or even the winter months of January to December. Whatever time you go, please take advantage of the free price comparison tools available online, they actually do work!
- Food and accommodation
For anyone, food and accommodation will undoubtedly form the bulk of your basic costs. In order to get the most out of your experience, choose to stay in hostels as opposed to hotels. They are much cheaper in price, costing a few hundred rupees per night. They are also a great place to meet fellow travellers who are moving about on a shoe string budget. Be warned though, you get what you pay for. You may end up with a bare room devoid of air conditioning. However, if you are really keen on pinching pennies, this shouldn’t deter you. There are also budget hotels in Mumbai, Jaipur and other major cities where you should be able to stay in slightly more comfort for a similar price.
As for food, where you eat also matters. You can eat at expensive western styled restaurants, local joints or even from the side of the road. If you are lucky, you may have the option of buying food and cooking for yourself. For a serious miser, cooking is the best option as it will ensure you eat what you want at a quality that you can monitor. If you can’t, pick on a cheap but decent restaurant. Do not go too down the food pyramid (literally!) as you might find the food to be unsanitary.
The ultimate deal though is to find a host! Indians are generally warm and hospitable, and will welcome you readily home. However, be sure of who and where you are going to stay.
- Bargain, bargain, bargain
Everything in India has several prices. If you are a foreigner, you will definitely be charged more. From taxi rides, food, or even toilet paper the price you will be presented with will most likely be higher. There are cases of tourists being overcharged for fixed price train tickets (yes, I know!). In order to save the most, learn how to stand up for yourself and bargain! You will constantly be haggling over the price of a lot of things, so you might as well start early.
Another important thing is that you know the fair price for the good. This will give you a great advantage in the bargaining process.
- Creative travel and tour arrangements
When I say creative, I merely mean cost effective. For example, instead of using the more expensive taxi option to move around, try and catch the buses or rickshaws instead. Using public transport will save you a lot of money. If moving over long distances, find a comfortable but affordable travel arrangement such as long distance bus service or train. Using buses and trains actually helps you appreciate the local culture more and see more of the country.
Also, prioritize on the sights and museums you will go to see. Think critically whether it is worth spending that entry fees to go into that specific site if there is a better alternative at hand.
However, don’t pinch your pennies too much, it will ruin the experience.
This is a guest post from Tom at Top Backpacking Destinations