What is an inevitable question during every random conversation/ interview/ debate/ consultation I get asked?
“How do you cut your costs while travelling?“
The answer to that question? For the last time, “You don’t have to be rich in order to travel. All you have to do is just take some smart decisions.”
Well, I know I wasn’t a big shot when I started exploring the wild. Just my savings from two years of constantly ruining my peace of mind at a 9 to 5 job which was spent in the first eight months.
Don’t believe in the influencers my-life-is-perfect cloak. Most of the influencers you see on Instagram with their jaw-dropping pictures of glaciers, mountains, jungles and never-ending roads, are struggling the same as you.
I know I am making it sound too easy, but once you work your way around it, after a few tries (I am talking about some 50 tries, maybe), you will get a hang of it. Broke-ass travelling is not everybody’s cup of tea. It requires spontaneity, passion and courage; but believe me, it beats daydreaming every damn day.
Here are some tricks that I follow to travel cheap and save along the way. Hope we prevent you from drying out your wallet.
〉〉 MAKE A NOTE OF EVERY RUPEE YOU SPEND AND YOU’LL THANK ME LATER:
I know it might sound unreasonable at first and you might be really good at evaluating your expenses mentally, but just trust me on this one. Coming from an investment banking background, I mocked Gopal when he first told me to try out his trusted way of reflecting on my expenses. He right up told me, “make a note of every rupee you spend and you’ll thank me later.” damn right I do.
Believe me, when you jot down every expense you made, ranging from 7 rs for a cup of tea to 2500 rs for your train ticket or 9000 rs for your airfare or maybe more, you realise every irrational expense that you could have prevented. It might not seem of a great value at first (when you are actually making that expense) but when you calculate the total value of all the stupid expenses you made, the one thing that will go through your head? OH DAMN!
And that revelation right there will stop you from making those and many more such expenses in the future. Bam, point made!
〉〉 STAY WITH THE LOCALS, STAY FOR FREE:
If you read our blogs often, you would know that we emphasize way too much on spending your nights at unknown lands with people who ‘know’ those lands. If you get a chance to stay with the local people of wherever you are travelling to, consider yourself extremely lucky because you cannot get any closer to the culture, tradition, food and the people of that particular region in any sort of way. Especially when it comes to India, the potpourri of the cultures changes at every 100 km and you just can’t get enough of it especially the food. Oh and, psstt… the best part? YOU STAY FOR FREE:
For instance, once in Spiti, this opportunity stumbled upon me when I was travelling on a bus from Kaza to Mudh. I happened to be sitting beside a very kind-hearted guy named Sonam. Now, I don’t exactly remember how the conversation started but what I do remember is me telling him that I was out of money and the ATM’s there just won’t work. When he heard that I was left with just a negligible amount of money, he fell into deep thought and after 5 minutes said, ‘mere ghar reh jao.’ (stay at my place). Being an avid traveller I knew this was my ticket to Spiti’s culture and I agreed in a heartbeat. After that, the trip just went uphill.
All you have to do is, start a conversation, break the ice. Make eye contact with them and most of all stay positive, smile and laugh. Once you establish a connection, ask them if you can stay with them for a night, offer to pay (in a very polite manner) and you are likely to get a bed. Don’t hesitate to ask, what is the maximum that can go wrong? A ‘no?’ but buddy, what if you get a ‘yes?’
Village Homestay, Dedtalai, Madhya Pradesh
〉〉 TRAVEL DURING OFF-SEASON (YES, I MEAN IT):
There is a huge difference between seasoned travellers and just ‘travellers’. Smart travellers know exactly when to book tickets, how to strike deals with numerous offseason packages the travel agencies have to offer or even on how to save in accommodation. Now, we used to travel around the year every year, so when we first came across the price of the same thing at the same place on and offseason, it just blew us away. Once you experience this, you will be awed thinking about all the advantages you can generate and you will start to detest season travelling.
Your choice of destination is not overcrowded. You can actually feel the serenity the place has to offer. You can actually hear the mellow murmur of the breeze, the splash of the waterfall or the birds chirping and not kids crying and their mothers yelling at them.
Chandra Taal during offseason when no one is around and you get the best views, Spiti Valley, Himachal Pradesh
The tickets are cheaper (unless you decide to book your tickets one day prior. Don’t blame it on me you spontaneous piece of soul.)
The accommodation is even cheaper. The vendors are desperate to get clients on their hands and hence if you look hard enough, you shall find places to stay at prices you couldn’t even dream about.
And the best part is, with all the money you manage to save, you can actually spend some more time at the destination and explore deeper into its well-kept secrets.
〉〉 TRAVEL OVERNIGHT, MAKE YOUR SEAT YOUR BED:
Oh, this is as simple as it gets. You travel overnight, you save the cost of accommodation (no rocket science here, buddy). Though your back maybe as rigid as a stick, but at least you got money in your pants.
〉〉 VOLUNTEER! :
Now, this is not just about travelling. It’s more than that and its bigger than you and your roots. Opt for this only if you feel passionate and compassionate about the place, culture and issue you are going to address. In a land such as ours, you have numerous (when I say numerous I mean thousands) ways you can make a difference and numerous organization to help you do that in EVERY state. It is a way through which you touch lives, try to untangle the atrocities they face, make them believe in the good and put a smile on their faces.
Volunteering, Trek for a Cause by Trekmunk, Osla Village, Har ki Dun Trek, Uttarakhand
No matter whatever you choose; teaching the kids at slum schools, try to treat patients at government healthcare centres, help unprivileged women earn a livelihood or just shower some love over orphans; your efforts will be valued and appreciated.
And the cherry on the top? You get too to see the culture, the traditions and lives of people in a zoomed in perspective. The food will taste better and you will come out of it as a better person.
“At the end of the day, it’s not about what you have or even what you’ve accomplished… It’s about who you’ve lifted up, who you’ve made better. It’s about what you’ve given back.” – Denzel Washington.
〉〉 FIND A FELLOW NEEDY TRAVELLER AND TAG ALONG:
If you are travelling solo and the transportation cost is burning a hole in your pocket, look for another needy solo traveller and tag along. You split the costs and maybe, just maybe become really good friends.
It happens to me all the time, though I prefer to hitchhike but there are times when I have had extremely bad days and nobody wanted to give me a ride; and on those days, I found fellow travellers going in the same direction as I and voila, situation sorted. As a matter of fact, that is how I met Harshit, who is now not only a friend but my partner. So you never know what is around the corner until you share the cab with that stranger.
Us in By the Way Hostel, Sohra, Meghalaya
P.S.: At times you will also find flyers which are put up by solo travellers in cafes and bus stands, so keep your eyes open fellas.
Do you have any other trick that helps you travel cheap? If yes, drop a comment below and maybe you could help us save a buck.