Tell me one soul who doesn’t like to travel, bet you can’t and also tell me about a soul who doesn’t want to save money on vacations, I am sure no one fits this bill too. Going on vacations, at least once a year is a not only a luxury but a necessity too;which we all aim for. During vacations, lodging, leisure, shopping and eating form the vital part of our travel itinerary; and these are the pursuits on which, if unknowingly we tend to spend more than required, it makes the entire vacation an expensive venture, a situation which obviously we all want to avoid.
So to avoid the budget becoming a killjoy for the entire trip, I present you some tried and tested tips to save money on vacations- both, before planning the vacation and during the travel period.
- A little groundwork goes a long way: We all like to spend more days at the destination rather than travelling which makes taking a flight the prudent option. In order to get a good deal on flight tickets, always book in advance or in promos. If you can’t book in advance (or even if you can), choose the desired flight at low rates after checking the website Skyscanner which gives a detailed list of the comparative rates of various flights. You can also try travelling at unpopular hours like early morning or late night which increase the chance to get the discounted ticket. (one can also try travelling mid-day of week to cut cost)
Additionally, to save a few extra bucks, avail the frequent flier program of airlines like Air India or Jet Airways. In this program a person accumulates miles or the points whenever he travels by a particular airline (redeemable for air travel or other rewards). Last year we used these miles to get three free tickets from Bombay to Bangalore.
Also, your accumulated credit card points come in handy when you book flight or a hotel room. Some credit cards also give instant cash-back if you use theirs while making any bookings.
- Save on Lodging: Select a hotel which is located in the heart of the city from where the places you want to visit or have meals are not very far, thereby cutting the cost on commuting. Regarding that, first check the hotel listings on the portal TripAdvisor which lists out accommodation options based on traveler’s reviews and ratings.
The same can be checked on portals like OYO rooms and Stayzilla which list decent accommodations at affordable price on their website.
Next you can check the hotel tariffs on the website Trivago which provides a detailed listing of the rates for each hotel offered by various booking websites, making it convenient to zero in on the hotel according to budget.
For getting deals on hotel tariffs and even airfare, websites like GoIbibo and MakeMyTrip are our favorites as they keep us updated on the prices once we had registered on their site. For instance, one time we saved 1500 rupees on a room at a five-star hotel which was priced at 6000 on hotel’s own website but less on MakeMyTrip. Plus, we also got vouchers of 1000 bucks redeemable on food or services of the hotel; sweet deal isn’t it?
Similarly, on a trip to Goa two years back we got a good deal through one of the travel website in which an upscale beach-side resort offered us the package which included three meals, airport pickup and drop services and half day site tour.
3. Go local: Enjoy the authentic experience of the place by eating local food, travelling in local transport, mingling with local people and staying at a local guesthouse, homestay or dharamshala. Check out the online hospitality service- Airbnb where you can arrange to stay in low-cost vacation rentals or Oyo rooms where one can find accommodation ranging from basic to luxurious.
By trying local cuisine, you can have a flavorful meal at almost half of the price of what you would pay at some fancy restaurant. Travelling by local transport or by foot not only saves money but helps you explore more of the city, thereby helping you to get a taste of local life. And if shopping is on your mind, there is no one better than a localite to guide you to the shops where you can buy authentic stuff at reasonable price.
Here are a few of our real-life experiences which helped my family save money during the travels:
- A recent visit to Agra coincided with World Heritage Day giving us a free entry to Taj Mahal and other monuments in the city. On a trip to Mysore we enjoyed the musical fountain show at Brindavan Garden which was free of cost (entry fee to garden was mere 15 rupees). The point being, expect for one or two “must-see” places which comes with price tag, look for alternatives like free activities or free entertainment which the city/hotel has to offer. During a trip to Kerala, we booked a resort which offered a few recreational activities for kids free of cost. It also showcased kathakali performance by renowned artists which otherwise would have cost a lot if witnessed in a theatre. If not free, some attractions of the city offer discounted admission tickets if you book them online (for example, at Madame Tussaud museum in Delhi, the tickets are 50% discounted on their website)
- Most of the hotels nowadays offer complimentary breakfast, so we always book those. Afternoon meal for us is at some local eatery (do check the customers reviews though before you step into these) which leaves us enough to splurge on the dinner. The idea is not only limited to meals; in fact, if you plan to do an expensive thing one day balance out with doing less expensive activity the next day.
- We always avail the facility of refrigerator in the hotel room in which we stuff some perishable snacks for mid-day cravings or eatables for evening snacks. I also carry some snacks for my kids to nibble on while we are exploring the city.
- Recently we planned a trip to Agra. When we reached Delhi airport, we hired a self-driven car from Zoom Car instead of taking the taxi. The express highway to Agra made the journey hassle-free. Plus, we saved at least 2000 bucks this way. What I am trying to tell is that if you think its manageable for you to drive, rent a car instead of hiring a taxi. At the same time don’t compromise on your comfort and safety and its always better to hire a taxi or use public transport while exploring unknown territory.
- At times it happens that you land at a place without making any booking. My advice would be to first check the online price of the room through a travel portal which is usually lower than what the hotel offers. This trick came in handy for us when once we made a pitstop at a city and were able to strike a deal with hotel by showing them the online price which the hotel otherwise was quoting more.
Hope the above tips will be of help when it comes to save money on vacations. If you have any other tips or hacks, please mention in the “comments” below.