A number of pre-conceived notions about travel surprisingly persist into the current generation. One of the most common perceptions is that travel is expensive, and hence unaffordable. And yet, I have seen these same people who say that they don’t have money for travel actually go out and spend a bomb partying just about every weekend. Did you see what I just said? I said, spend a “Bomb” partying, because, it is my perception that spending say, INR 10,000 on partying is a lot. So, the question is not really about the availability of money, but about perceived value from the experience.
Now, let us assume that you do, in fact, have some disposable income that you would like to spend on travelling. The next common perception is that travelling abroad is extremely expensive. And yet, I did my trip to Thailand on a budget of INR 75000, and I actually stayed in one of the best 4 star properties on the beach! My trip to Greece cost me 2.2 lakhs (Indian rupees) and my trip to France cost me exactly 3 lakhs. So, no matter what your travel budget is, there is an international destination waiting for you!
Here are some budgets and possible destinations based on the budget. There is a lot more to planning that dream trip, but understanding the right destination for your budget is the first step. All below suggestions are made for two people going on a trip and sharing expenses. Families will pay more and solo travelers will pay less.
Travel destinations based on budget
- Less than INR 1,00,000 – Sri Lanka, Bali/Indonesia, Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, Bhutan, Myanmar, Singapore, Malaysia (with budget accommodation and food).
- INR 1,00,000-2,00,000 – Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Bali/Indonesia, Greece, the UAE and several Eastern European countries as I understand. I have not actually been to Eastern Europe though, and so don’t have real numbers to report (on good boutique accommodation and food with drinks for most meals).
- INR 2,00,000-3,00,000 – Here, the possibilities really open up. You can do all the above locations on a luxurious trip (Read five star hotels and classy food plated well). Apart from this, you can also travel to Egypt, Turkey, France, Italy, Portugal, Spain, Hungary, the Czech Republic etc. Here, Egypt is a luxury trip with stay in 4 to 5 star hotels, but I do not recommend anything else in Egypt, given the current situation.
- INR 3,00,000-4,00,000 – More possibilities here. Australia, New Zealand on a tight budget, the UK, Ireland, Scotland, Sweden, Germany, Austria, Switzerland etc.
- Above INR 5,00,000 – Well, there are limitless options here. You could easily do the US, Canada, several parts of South America, Japan and so on.
I am assuming that in all these cases, you are doing 10-15 day trips.
Booking flight tickets at the right time
Flight tickets and accommodations are actually the bulk of your travel expenditure, and so, getting a good deal here is extremely important to stay within your budget. There is a lot of very different advice on the internet about when to book the cheapest flight tickets. Actually, here again, there is no one shoe that fits all.
The best times to book tickets actually vary based on the season you’re travelling (peak season tickets always cost more), the destination you are travelling to (different best times to book for Europe, Australia, the US etc) and the days you are flying (usually Tuesdays and Wednesdays are cheapest). Here is one of the most useful articles I have seen, recent and updated, on the best ways to book cheap air tickets.
Choosing the right accommodation for your budget
From a budget perspective, this is the next most important choice you will make. I usually use AirBnb and Booking.com to find the best accommodation deals. There are a few tricks to get cheap accommodation. Staying right in the middle of tourist central is always going to be more expensive than, say staying 3 km away. If the city you are in has good public transport, it makes sense to look for accommodation about 3-5 km away from the tourist centre. Any more and you will spend too much money and time on transit. This will counteract any savings you made on accommodation. But if you have a car, you can stay farther away and save more.
Choosing the right season to travel
Travelling off-season is one of the best ways to save money on flights and accommodation. I have stayed in five star properties at 40% of their original price during the low-season or shoulder season. What is low-season, you ask? Well, in Europe this is between November to March. April to June is the shoulder season. I do not recommend travelling to Europe in the low season because of very short daylight hours, short tourist timings and lesser options for dining. Many sights remain closed, or are open for very short times. Shoulder season, however, is the best of both worlds. You have temperatures in double digits during the day and all sights usually stay open almost as long as during the high season.
In South East Asia, low season is July to October, on account of monsoons and rains. I think this is a magical time to travel in the region. Sure, your island hopping plans might be thrown off by the rains. But, can you imagine walking in a rain drenched tropical paradise, everything looking lush and untouched? It is truly beautiful, and with some flexibility, you can still get some beach time and enjoy the destination.
There are several other important tricks and tips to travelling within your budget that relate to sight-seeing, deciding on the best internal transit options and dining. But, I will write about those in a following article. I hope you found this one useful. Do let me know if you have any thoughts, or different suggestions and ideas! Happy Sunday peeps!5