Looking at my frequent journeys, people often misjudge me for two things:
1) I have a "Huuuuge" bank balance to travel around and,
2) I am a person who is least concerned about my job as I take a lot of long leaves.
But the fact is that, I am just a common person like you. I don't have any bank balance (except for an LIC insurance policy, which I took recently) and also, I get only 10 casual leaves in a year (till now my leaves have never gone to the “Loss of pay” status, wherein you will have to part with your hard earned money for the leaves you take exceeding the casual leave or sick leave quota!). On top of all these, I am the one supporting my family. So you can guess the kind of responsibilities that I have.
In spite of all these, I find time and money to travel! You might wonder how I do it. Fear not! I would like to share with you how I budget my trips and manage my leaves. It can be helpful for those who share the itch to travel - just like me! :-)
1. Choosing the destination
Yes, I do have a “big” list of places which I wish to visit. But I have not prioritised it. I select the places depending on the distance and the number of leaves that I have. For example, if it is a 12-16 hour journey, I would choose to go in a weekend thereby saving my precious leaves.
2. Mode of traveling
This basically depends on the place where I choose to visit. Generally most of the places in India are accessible by trains. So once I reach my destination, I mostly opt for public transportation to roam around. It’s very cheap! With that said, I would also opt for private cabs when the locations are remote (you know, those “faaar off places” which doesn’t have buses or any other kind of public transportation facilities). I would say that, this point plays a major role in making my trips in par with my budget. I would also opt for a share auto and pay 15-20 rupees rather than a private cab which would charge you 300-500 rupees for the same trip (See the difference!). Another advantage of this travelling mode is that, you can travel and interact with the local people - which would be another rich experience :-)
Most of us don’t know the fact that IRCTC has an online booking facility for Railway Retiring rooms. Yes, in India, there are 57 stations that has this facility! And I make use of it. It's just 300 rupees for 24 hours! Yes, I know that all the places (other than the 57 stations) may not have Retiring rooms, especially if you are going to a hill station like Chikamangalore. So for places like these, you can use the service of stayzilla.com. They will assist you with your affordable stay. (I am not bragging or anything, but it’s a fact that my room rents have never crossed 450 rupees!)
4. Booking of tickets
Whether it is a hotel or a train, I book tickets months’ ahead. The main advantage of this is that, I can plan and manage my expenses properly. Yes! If my travel budget is say 5000 rupees, and if I book the tickets a month in advance, I would say that more than half of my expenses are covered here. Then I just need to find money for my trips and food, which I raise with my two months’ salary.
Wherever I go, I have an appetite for local and street foods. To find the food (that doesn’t cause tummy ache of course!), first I enquire with the hotel or my drivers as to what are the special foods that can be availed from any local restaurant. Remember that we can buy the five star foods from our home town too! So why do the same at our travel destinations? Yeah! Take a change!
6. Leave from work
As I mentioned earlier, I don’t have much leaves in a calendar year. But I still travel! Every now and then I check the calendar to see which holiday would be falling close to the weekends. As I already have a travel destination in my mind, I would google up the mode of transportation too. Based on the situation, I decide my journey. If the holiday is close to the weekends, I would take leave for a day or two from my 10 days casual leave quota (coupling these days with weekends makes it long!). Yes, with God’s grace, I have never used up my sick leaves till now. (I forgot to mention, we also get 6 sick leaves too!). For me, the number of leaves are as precious as money. So I spent it veeery carefully :-)
These are the main points that I follow for my budgeted trips. Along with these there are some things that are quite specific to me. I neither do much shopping (which normally girls do!) nor am I a new-tech-gadget lover. I save those money and also I cannot afford it! (There are people who save money to buy a phone worth 30,000 rupees and complaint that they don't have enough money to go for tripping!). I have a ‘faithful’ mobile which gives me 24 hours battery back-up and I can take good clarity pictures with its 8mp resolution. Speaking of which, I recently bought a canon 1200d so that I can use it in my travels. Yeah, when you have an IT job, banks are glad to offer you with credit cards. I am sure with that you can buy a DSLR in EMI (equal monthly instalments) just like I did!
This is how I make my trips happen! And I hope this helps you understand that my travels happen neither because of my huge bank balance nor I am born Richie Rich!
Finally, the most important point that stands waaaay above all these is that you should have a passion to travel! Without that, no matter how big your bank balance is or how much unused leave quota you have, your travel plans will still be plans. It’s wanderlust that matters!!! :-)
These are just the common things that I do to make my dream - my travels - come true. Moreover it’s just like as someone said, “I don’t travel for luxuries!”