Speak of a budget traveler and you are immediately reminded of vicenarians brimming with aspirations, aiming to conquer places unknown. These young, and driven people fancy lengthy bucket lists but an inversely proportional bank balance fails them every time they plan a trip. However, planning a budget trip in India is much easier that planning an international one.
To make your Indian exploration dream a reality and to earn the badge of a smart traveler, you must master the ways to travel cheaply in your 20s. After all, this is the age to ditch all comforts and head out see the best India has to offer. A little spontaneity, immaculate planning, and these 10 tips for budget travel in India are all you need to conquer the best Indian destinations with only a few hundred bucks in your pocket.
1. Research in depth – Know the destination well
Everything comes for a cost. A well planned budget trip too. The cost is time and effort.
If you are keen on saving the moolah, put in time to research in depth about the destination you plan to visit, and make efforts to get in touch with the right people. This will equip you with all the information you need to plan smartly. Make sure you know about everything cheap there – from city with best budget hotels and cheap food to cheapest activities and local transport.
And I am sure, a little discomfort doesn’t matter, ’cause 20s is the age when you just want to travel and explore. Let comfort and luxury take a backseat for this decade of your life.
2. Travel in off-season – Get the best deals
It is no rocket science that people travel more around festive times like Christmas and New Year. For students and young professionals – who are always reeling under budget constraints, this is the worst time to plan a trip as prices are an all time high to due to increased demand. Also, every destination has a peak season which sees high tariffs in modes of travel, resorts and hotels, and other expenses.
So, the first tip here is that you should avoid festivals and peak seasons. To travel cheap, plan trips on extended weekends or squeeze a couple of days from your routine for a quick, rejuvenating escape. If you wish to explore a destination during peak season, make advance bookings (at least 5-7 months before) to enjoy early bird discounts.
Another good thing about traveling off-season is that there is no crowd. You can enjoy the destination in peace and get the best of hospitality.
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3. Travel to offbeat places – Explore the hidden gems
The fact that offbeat places are located in some of the most picturesque and secluded havens makes them a popular choice for discerning travelers. These places are calm, quiet, unspoiled, and make for an ideal getaway for a millennial to explore.
Untouched by commercialization, these small towns offer cheap accommodation and food. If you are in your 20s, this is the time your bucket list should have all offbeat places in it. All you need to do is figure out a few homestays and attractions, before you head out.
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4. Travel in a group – Share & save
The universal rule of expense sharing being directly proportional to effective spending is also applicable while you are traveling. In fact, most travel dreams remain dreams because of unavailability of sufficient funds. But the problem is easy to fix – travel with your friends and split the expenses on rides, food, and accommodation,
Also, when you are in your 20s, it is fun to travel with friends or even with a bunch of nomads who are headed to the same destination.
5. Make overnight city transits – Save on hotel tariffs
Traveling by a late night train actually makes sense because hotels mostly charge on per night basis. So if you check into a hotel early in the morning and leave before midnight, you are probably saving one day’s tariff. All you need to do is plan an overnight journey. This way you can easily save on your hotel/ stay expenses.
However, traveling overnight comes with its own set of disadvantages. It could be uneasy and uncomfortable. Doing it on consecutive nights could lead to fatigue, headaches, and sleeplessness. To avoid such problems, make sure there are gaps in your transits that allow you at least one or two nights of peaceful sleep.
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6. Use public transport – Cut the spend on local transfers
Public transport makes life easier for travelers on a tight budget. While a reserved cab always costs a bomb, the ticket of a local bus only costs a few pennies. In India, especially north India, roadways cover most attractions of a destination. State buses, along with local rickshaws/ferries – if any, are the cheapest way to move around locally.
If you are traveling to a metro city, again public transport is highly recommended. It helps you cut down your travel expenses and is convenient too. You can also go for day passes that are the cheapest way to spend a day just sightseeing.
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7. Choose homestays, not hotels – Experience local hospitality
Homestays are the newfound love of travelers and they are here to stay. Youngsters these days are open to experiments with the way they travel, the kind of stays they pick, and experiences they go for. Choosing a homestay over a hotel makes you experience local hospitality, taste local cuisine, and visit the most beautiful places around.
In offbeat places, per night charges for homestays are way cheaper than contemporary hotels. The concept of staying with locals and eating & exploring with them – all in a budget, addresses a major concern of twentysomething travelers around the world.
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8. Live on local food – Learn a thing or two about the cuisine as well
Now that the companions, bookings, stays, and transits are sorted, next thing that could make your trip an expensive affair is the food. Three meals a day in a decent resort could really hurt your pocket. Instead go for local delicacies, which are easily available in homestays and at dhabas, and are cheap as well.
Millennials are the curious generation who love exploring the diversities of a place. Getting the taste and feel of local dishes of an unfamiliar region make for a learning experience and a potential escape when you are running low on budget.
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9. Avoid popular markets – Practice some restraint while picking souvenirs
Getting lured by exciting products at tourist hotspots is usual but it takes real resistance to avoid getting tricked at such markets. The price that you pay at these shops is mostly on the higher side. Instead, head to local flea markets, where you can strike good bargains.
Also, not all souvenirs need to be bought. You could pick knick knacks from your surroundings. With such souvenirs, you can always visit the trip memories every time you look at them.
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10. Opt for volunteer travel – Make a difference
Volunteer travel is gaining quick popularity; thanks to the 20 somethings who are open to make a difference while they realize their own dreams. It simply means offering your skills and services for the betterment of local people, community, and nature of the destination you are traveling to. You could be paid in cash so that you can meet your daily expenses or offered free lodging and food.
Organizations like WWOOF, Chirag, and LHA constantly run programs across India concerning the welfare of society. Through their initiatives, they invite and send travel enthusiasts to secluded places to share their skills and knowledge. In return, their stay, meals, and sometimes even traveling are paid for by the organizer.
Needless to say, it is an amazing experience and a wonderful opportunity for young travelers to travel places without being worried about expenses.
Money is the dearest honey! So save the most of it by traveling smart and cover the best of Indian destinations without burning a hole in your pocket. ‘Cause in you 20s, life is all about friends and fun.
Further Read: 30 Cool Travel Accessories For A Smart Traveler
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