Monday, 7 July 2014

10 Tips For A ‘Value-For-Money’ Travel Experience

Let your travel dreams take off...

If I had my way I would travel without a break (at least for some time). Of course, you know that I love to travel and I know that you love to travel too; otherwise you wouldn’t be reading this, right? And, I also know that you like affordable travels. You hate going over your budget. You hate paying moolah for something unexpected. I know we all wish to travel for free – at least get cheap deals on everything from flights to hotels.

But, travel is expensive.

Travel is never kind to your pocket. No matter how hard you try, there is no way you can hold your purse strings. So, why fret at all? If you have got a passion, surrender to it. Loosen yourself. Remember the quote – “Travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer.”

Now there is something called ‘value for money’. You may not always get the cheapest deal, but you can certainly get value for the money spent, which is satisfying in the long run. Since I have travelled quite a bit in the last six years, I have learnt to handle finances to a certain extent. Today, I’d like to share with you some tips from my own experiences that should help you travel more sensibly in terms of money.

Also read: 


1. Shun the travel agents         

Of course, you can visit a travel agent or two, inquire about the deals available, but don’t depend on their knowledge. Trust your own ability to work out a good deal. Most of the time, people book their trips through travel agents thinking that would minimize the trouble. People presume that a travel agent knows about all the good deals.  But, let me tell you that if you do your own research, you can do a far better job.

2. Ask, bargain, build a rapport

Yes, bargaining is an art, which you should use wherever necessary. I am not saying that you should do it aggressively, but do it with a lot of grace and humour. Be polite, be assertive and use your skills and knowledge. Don’t bargain when you don’t know anything about a place. Do your homework first. When you strongly feel that you are being over-charged for something, be vocal about it. Ask for a discount. It may not work. But, don’t be quiet.

Always choose a good and comfy place over a centrally located one

3. Make the right choices

Saving on money also depends a lot on the kind of choices you make. For instance, if you choose a filthy hotel located in a touristic area over a more spacious, comfier and cleaner guest house located a little away from the tourist bustle, you won’t get value for money. You may end up paying more for a popular, touristic and a centrally located hotel, which is not even clean enough, while on the other hand, if you explore diligently and discover a place where you get comfort, cleanliness and wonderful hosts, you might pay less or even if you pay the same price, it would get you value for your money.

Let your host know your prerequisites

4. Communicate your prerequisites and concerns to your host

Yes, it’s better to let your host know about your requirements as soon as you check in. There is no point complaining about your discomfort later. If cleanliness is your main concern, make sure your hotel manager/staff knows about it. If you need a cup of tea in the morning, tell them so. Don’t expect things to happen on their own. If anything is not right, convey it to the concerned person politely and respectfully. 

Bangalore has expensive transport...
... while Mumbai has affordable autos, buses and local trains

5. Factor out your local transport

Local taxis prove to be a big evil when it comes to exceeding your travel budget. Don’t you agree? Most of the money that you end up squandering is on the taxis that you have to hire. Unfortunately, there is not much that we can do about it. But, we can at least inquire about it in advance and prepare ourselves. Don’t pay if you don’t know how much you should be paying. Look for alternative conveyance – find out how the locals commute.

Noshing at lovely places adds to your overall travel experience

6. Choose good eating places 

Do a little bit of research on restaurants and cafes as well. It’s not always important to save money, but it’s important to have a good time. What’s the point if you taste a bad coffee and pay a whopping sum for it? I’m sure you will hate to pay even a penny at a place where the food is bland and even the waiters are cold. So, why spend your precious time at such places? Go for grand places – great atmosphere, delicious meals and super-hospitable staff. That’s what I call value for money.

7. Interact with various people, take suggestions

When you are travelling, don’t be secluded in your own world. Talk to all kinds of people – your hotel staff, taxi drivers, random locals and your fellow travellers. Ask questions about where to eat, what to do, where to stay, how to commute, etc. Take suggestions and note down everything. Don’t follow anything without your own conviction. The point is to collect information and do what feels right.

8. Don’t do anything just to tick off

Every popular holiday destination has a web of travel agents selling packages to tourists. The truth is most of the packages are not worth your precious time and money. You may find it attractive when you hear that you can cover a place in two days and three nights, but such deals only exhaust you eventually. So, don’t be afraid to skip a few places. I don’t intend to say that all such packages and deals are worthless. If something sounds good to you, please go ahead. But, make sure you get value for your money and time. 

9. Avoid buying water bottles every now and then

Minimise the number of water bottles that you buy, which would be good for both your budget and environment. Keep refilling the same water bottle.

10. Resolve not to waste anything

Lastly, I would like to add that it’s extremely important to value everything to be able to get value out of everything. If you want value for your money, be sure to value the services that you get. Don’t misuse water, electricity or anything that you are given to use as a guest in your hotel. If you expect your host to be good to you, be a good guest in the first place.

What tip would YOU add from your own experiences? I’d like to hear from you!

16 comments:

  1. Those are some great tips Renuka! Thanks for sharing.

    Parul

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  2. I agree with the one about the travel agents. Normally you can find cheaper hotels by yourself especially if you can book once you've arrived (atleast in low season).

    www.theygetaround.com

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    1. True, it's easy to move around and look for hotels during low season. But, it's better to book in advance while it's busy - it's good to use online resources.

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  3. Good ideas all! Its useful to be reminded and to have them handy to check you aren't falling into any traps.

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    1. Yup, it's important to save oneself from traps. :) Travel is already so expensive. Can't afford traps!

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  4. All points duly noted and hopefully next time will use them toooo .. but I know who to come and ask when i plan for a holiday in india he he hee :)
    You sure know the person tooooooooooo :) he he he he

    Bikram

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    1. All the best for your next trip! I'm glad it was helpful.

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  5. I would couchsurf to stay and use local meetups for travel etc. I would also carry lots of easy to eat but high on cal food (chocolates/ trail mixes) to snack on...

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    1. Yes, it is good to carry something to eat along. Good advice. Thanks Siddhartha :)

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  6. Great tips!! I especially like "resolve not to waste anything" - it's so important in general even! I know travel can be expensive but I find that many people that I know who think that either don't budget very well (or at all), are taking the wrong kind of vacations (all inclusives at fancy resorts), or spend loads of money on crap they don't need - haha!

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    1. Yup, that's so true. People spend without restraint on things that are not even important, but more than that what bugs me is that they waste a lot of things offered by their hotel. I believe if you are staying at a place, you should respect that place and should not misuse anything.

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  7. These are wonderful tips. I'm definitely a believer in refilling water bottles. Depending on the country, buying water can be expensive and it helps the environment and your wallet to simply refill your own water bottle. For example traveling in the Philippines and in Thailand there are water refill stations everywhere. And it costs virtually nothing! Right now I'm in Colombia and the tap water is safe to drink (in the major cities) so I haven't had to spend any money on water, which makes me happy :) Great post!!

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    1. Right Justine! Saving on even small things make a substantial difference. Like while I was traveling in Sikkim and Darjeeling, I was served boiled or filtered water everywhere, thus, I didn't have to buy water bottles on my own.

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  8. Great tips. Also, have an idea about 2-3 places you'd consider staying when you arrive somewhere if you havent booked. But be open to someone coming to you and offering a hotel room if it's in your budget.check it out and make a call when you see the room, there are always so many places not in any guidebooks. Also, budget an extra 10-20% on top of your budget for emergencies and the inevitable overspend. Dont miss out on something because its not going to fit in your daily budget if you really want to see it!

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    1. You're right, Andrew! If you really want to do something you should do it even if it takes going over your budget. I also believe in the same thought. Travel is more about quality than quantity.

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