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10 Tips for Travelling on a Tight Budget

Some of the most enjoyable holidays in far-flung exotic locales can be had without making a serious dent in one’s finances.

Most people wonder how to make the best of their vacation without the specter of having to tighten their belts after the break!  Here are a few ideas on how best to plan ahead for a vacation that’s easy on the purse strings.

  1. Planning ahead: It is very important to plan well ahead of time. This allows for time to book cheaper fares and hotel accommodation. Several hotels offer early bird discounts for travelers booking well in advance to the travel date.
  2. Off-season travel: Vacations planned during the low season can get one advantageous low-season airfare as well as enviable prices at hotels. Here is your chance to stay at some of the most luxurious hotels in the world at throwaway prices. Hotels offer stay-3/pay-2-nights packages as well.
  3. Know your destination: It makes sense to do detailed research on your holiday destination from the local currency, weather conditions, food habits, sightseeing highlights and local transportation. This will help you save time and money when you reach the destination. Taxis from the airport to the hotel can be on the expensive side; hence, if there is a hotel shuttle or a train or tube station close by, it would help.
  4. Group excursions: When booking excursions from your hotel or from the local tourist office, always book a seat on coach tour rather than a private excursion. The coach tours are generally professionally run and have a guide included. The private excursions are expensive as they are exclusive.
  5. Hostels, B&B & Air B & B options: On holiday, one tends to spend very little time in the hotel room as the day is spent soaking up the sights. Hence, it makes sense to book a hostel, a quaint bed and breakfast place or an Air B & B option where one can get a well-appointed apartment or a villa for a throwaway price. The advantage in an apartment/villa is the well-equipped kitchens where one can cook up a basic meal if so inclined. Make sure all accommodation options come equipped with complimentary Wi-Fi.
  6. Avoid fancy restaurants: The best way to acquaint oneself with the local cuisine is to visit the small local restaurants. Ensure that they are clean before partaking of a meal. These are authentic and cheap. The other alternative is to have a picnic en-route with sandwiches and salads picked up from a local deli or a supermarket.
  7. Bypass souvenir shops at tourist attractions: These shops tend to rip off tourists and are best avoided. It is best to shop at the local market where one can get the same products at very attractive prices.
  8. Medicines: Carry a stock of medicines for aches and pains apart from your regular medication. Paracetamol, common cold and flu medication should be included in your medical kit along with plasters, bandages and pain relief sprays. It goes without saying that one should not undertake a holiday without travel insurance.
  9. Car hire: Certain destinations like the US, Europe and the United Kingdom are ideal for fly-drive holidays. Fly into your destination, pick up your car at the airport and drive from one city or town to the other. Drop your car off at the last town before flying back home. This turns out to be very convenient and enables you to take in a lot more of the scenic beauty. You also save on taxi fare, internal airfare or train fare. Staying at scenic local inns or bed and breakfast places makes it a cheaper vacation.
  10. Last-minute planning: For those last-minute planners, all hope is not lost. There are wonderful deals for those who suddenly decide to take a holiday. Provided one has the necessary visas in hand, sites like Lastminutetravel.com offer great deals on airfare as well as hotels. Hotels use these sites to upload lower tariffs when they find low occupancy over certain dates. Similarly, the airlines lower airfares in response to low demand on certain sectors.

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A tourism professional for 20 years, I was forced to take a sabbatical when my husband moved jobs. It turned out to be a blessing in some ways. I now exult in the luxury of time as my much-loved career had taken precedence over my family, home, health and friends. Slipping with ease into the role of domestic Goddess has not been easy. Mundane chores bore me to tears. Long distance parenting is what I enjoy the most- conversations with my 28-year-old son and 23-year-old daughter - lecturing them, cajoling them, scolding them and above all being a friend to them. My cat Kaddy and dog Zsa Zsa are my silent companions during the day, providing unconditional love in abundance. Pets are great stress busters provided you have systems in place for their care. Exercise is an integral part of my day, be it the gym or yoga. Bollywood dance classes are my passion. I have a confession to make - this Auntyji loves to dance :-)