Budget Travel - How it's really done!


Over the years, I have seen and heard many people pity themselves and then later complain about how painful it is to travel and how travelling to unknown or new locations is only for the "young" and the "wealthy" souls. Also, there are many stories spread across about how a few tour operators cheat people and trick them into cheap or rather dirty hotels for accommodation, provide uncomfortable modes of travel or simply make money out of their customers by promising a lot in a package but delivering the bare minimum experience. To add onto that there are families with kids, who, after hearing or reading about travel stories, aspire to travel but end up loathing their own conditions and transfer the blame onto the shoulders of the young innocent souls.

Well, let's face it. It's not always going to be easy! And, it's not always going to be cheap! And, it's not always going to be comfortable! If you so want to be comfortable, then don't even bother getting out of your bed. In any case, it's going to take me a whole different blog to write and explain about the philosophy of travelling & exploring and how inculcating those habits bring out the best in you and your children and how you learn and increase your network and..... Wait! That was going to be a different blog.

Anyways, coming to the point, the main reason of this article is share with you the best practices so that many of you who weren't aware of the simple tricks of cheap travel get to know about it and start exploring different places in your own country if not the world. All the points below are in chronological order.

    Plan your travels in advance according to the Airline fares.

The skies are more competitive now than they ever were and most LCC's (Low Cost Airlines) come out with offers at least 3-4 times a year; Offers that are dirt cheap to many exotic destinations; Offers that are affordable not only if you are single but are a family of 3 or 4.

Important Tip: Keep looking for different dates and be flexible with them. Not all the seats and not all the days are on offer. Keep clicking on the next date option to find out the best fare.

    Book your airline tickets from the Airline website. (unless you have loyalty rewards on partner sites like Yatra, GoIbibo or Makemytrip etc.)

Comparison is the key! You will need to compare the airfares to the place you are travelling by searching the results in different airlines & partner sites and then book the cheapest ticket. Tickets booked from the airline website directly are fairly cheaper by a few hundred rupees than on partner sites like Yatra or Goibibo due to a convenience charge that is charged by the latter sites. If you have loyalty rewards by them, then apply those rewards and then compare the charges. Basically, whatever is the cheapest (even if it is by a few hundred rupees) go for it.

Important Tip: Look out if paying by Internet Banking is cheaper than paying by a Credit or Debit card. With mobile wallets, check out which wallet is giving cash back for a better booking price.

    Check the Date and Time on the ticket.

Don't laugh! It happens more often than you think. Many people get confused with the 24 hour time format on the ticket and end up reaching late or too early. The last thing you want to be doing is missing a flight on a cheap ticket and then paying extra to get on another flight.

Important Tip: Reverse calculate the time of the flight, time you need to be at the airport, time needed to commute thereby reaching the time you need to leave your home at.

Use www.tripadvisor.com to search and virtually look at the Hotels, Resorts, B&B's, Lodges or Places to visit, Things to do, Reviews; basically everything that is making up your travel. It gives you an approximate rate of the hotels based on your travel dates, hotel pictures (mostly uploaded by real-time travelers) and then most importantly the Reviews! You get to know a lot about the kind of service that the hotels provide based on the real time customer reviews. If required, you can also ask questions to some of the reviewers if you think you need info about the place in general or the hotel itself.

Very Important Tip: Don't click on the Booking hyperlinks on TripAdvisor. The rates provided by the hotel partners on Tripadvisor like Yatra, Booking.com or GoIbibo are often high than on the actual site itself and in most cases, promo codes cannot be applied.

    Book your stays on GoIbibo/Yatra or any other travel website.

Unlike booking an Airline ticket, booking hotels directly by contacting the owners can prove pretty costly in most cases. And on almost all occasions, GoIbibo or Yatra provide hefty discount coupons, loyalty points that can be used in the future, and the final price after applying all the discounts is fairly much cheaper than what you'd be getting from TripAdvisor. Don't believe me! Try It! Open a GoIbibo/Yatra link from TripAdvisor page and check the price of a given hotel. At the same time, use a different browser or use InPrivate Browsing to open a fresh page of GoIbibo/Yatra, apply the discount coupons and then compare the result! If you've done it and feel thankful to me, "You're Welcome!" ???? Lastly check of booking via Mobile App is cheaper. It normally costs 5% less to book a hotel via GoIbibo or Yatra Mobile App.

Very Important Tip 1: Book only for 1 day at a time. For example if your stay is going to be for 2 or 3 days, then book for each day separately as this will fetch you much cheaper prices. Why does this happen? Because discount coupons mostly state 25% up to a limit of Rs. 500. If you book together for 2 or 3 days, you will get a total discount of 500, however if you book one day at a time, then you will get approximately Rs. 500 discount per day! If you don't believe me again, try it on your own and "You're Welcome in advance!"

Very Important Tip 2: Most booking sites charge an extra fare as soon as anything beyond 2 adults is entered and do not even provide and extra bed. Sometimes this may depend on the hotel type. In any case, if the travel consists of 2 adults and 1 child of 6 years, check the price by entering 2 adults and 1 child of 5 years. The price is bound to be the same this way if not greater. Read the policies and mix and match the ages of children on the website. Most hotels don't verify children's ages.????

That's pretty much it for now because this article mainly deals with Planning and Booking before your travel in a very budgeted fashion. Next article - Things to NOT carry and what NOT to do once you reach at your destination! Happy Booking!Samir Khan

This blog was originally published on 'SAMIRKHANWEB'