Let’s face it, travelling requires money! We all had studied in our Economics 101 that “Human wants are unlimited while resources at our disposal are limited”. Drawing a corollary that theory – The number of places we want to visit is unlimited while the budget at disposal is limited. While there are no free lunches, there are ways we can optimize our spending without affecting the overall experience. So here we go.

1. Rent your travel gear instead of buying

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Rent your travel gear instead of buying– Well, this had to be the first in the list because VacayStore is all about renting travel gear.

Cameras, lenses, binoculars are expensive and don’t get used more than twice a year. In financial terms, that is not a good return on your asset. What is worse is that by the time you get an opportunity to use your shiny expensive equipment (say, GoPro Hero 8) for the third time, there is already GoPro Hero 9 in the market and you start feeling bad about using an older version with lesser features.

The easier option is to rent them. From us at VacayStore, of course 😊

2. Travel in shoulder season

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Most of the destinations have a peak season which is the time when the place is supposedly at its best. Now here is the problem. While weather wise it is the time of the year, it also means hordes of tourists resulting in a not-so-great experience. The view might be the best still, but there will be rowdy tourists to mar the experience. The fresh produce might be the tastiest, but the wait might be insanely long.

So what’s the solution? Shoulder season- which is the beginning or the end of the peak season. What more? The rates are cheaper as well. So instead of Amsterdam in late July and Aug, opt for June or September.

3. Travel Off-beat

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Almost same principles apply as the above.

There was a time when New Zealand was considered exotic until Bollywood made it mainstream. What happened then? These places were inundated with tourists, spoiling the beauty and pushing the rates high.

When choosing a destination, be a trendsetter, not a follower. What Manali is now probably Spiti will (sadly) become 10 years down the line. Choose Spiti, forget Manali. This will save you few bucks as well

4. Book Airbnb when travelling in a bigger group

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Hotels have their own charm and they are more convenient most of the times, but they are impersonal. When travelling in a group, Airbnb is a better option as it’s easy to hangout together after the tours, cook meals (when you feel like) and do impromptu parties. While a hotel room can’t accommodate more than 3 people, a 2BHK Airbnb can easily squeeze 7-8 people at the same or lesser cost than booking 2 rooms in a hotel.

5. Stay a bit away from the main tourist district

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This is especially true for a city with good public transport. We will all want to stay in the Latin quarters in Paris or near Dam square in Amsterdam, but that can be an expensive proposition. Living one or two metro stations away from these places might help save some money without adding too much time to your daily sightseeing plans. You will also be able to witness how the locals live in those cities, which you might miss if staying in the tourist hotspot.

5. Stay a bit away from the main tourist district

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We all are in a hurry to reach our destination ASAP, but then flight rules are complicated (just like relationships). A direct flight is always the costliest option and a layover will cost you time and inconvenience. The solution might be a long layover or a stopover.

Giving one personal example – Bombay Hong Kong direct was at 26k return on Cathay while a Bombay-Singapore-Hong Kong on Singapore airline was 19k. I added a stopover of 3 days in Singapore and used free transit visa (valid for 96 hours). Saw two countries instead of one and saved almost 10k (including Singapore visa fee) in the process.

Now that is called a deal!

6. Search for flights with good stopover

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We all are in a hurry to reach our destination ASAP, but then flight rules are complicated (just like relationships). A direct flight is always the costliest option and a layover will cost you time and inconvenience. The solution might be a long layover or a stopover.

Giving one personal example – Bombay Hong Kong direct was at 26k return on Cathay while a Bombay-Singapore-Hong Kong on Singapore airline was 19k. I added a stopover of 3 days in Singapore and used free transit visa (valid for 96 hours). Saw two countries instead of one and saved almost 10k (including Singapore visa fee) in the process.

Now that is called a deal!!

7. Don’t waste your time on airport layovers

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This might be just opposite to the one before but consider this- If your layover is such that you can’t go out of the airport then every hour at the connecting airport is a waste of your precious vacation time. So, while saving few thousands rupees in a connecting flight might sound tempting, it’s not the best bang for the buck.

If you are still not convinced, just calculate the hourly price you are paying for your trip (total budget divided by total time in the destination) and compare that to the money you are saving per hour due to the layover.

Convinced now? I am sure you are

7. Don’t waste your time on airport layovers

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Museums, theme parks, gardens require an entry fee, but mountains, rivers and stars do not. For your next trip, go trekking, star gazing or bird watching?

Hiring a tent and staying overnight in the jungle is cheaper and more adventurous  than going to the Disneyland. Now you know where to go next time!

9. Collect air-miles

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Having collected and burnt lakhs of Jet miles (good ole’ days of Jet Airways), I can confidently say, the best way to travel free is to collect airmiles.

Almost all the major airlines flying into India have their Frequent Flyer program. They have tie-ups with their partner airlines as well, which means you can enroll in one or two major airline and start collecting points from their partners as well.

For example, enrolling in Air India Flying Return can help you collect miles even if you are flying United, Singapore, Lufthansa, Swiss, ANA and many more. Do a bit of your research and enroll in the one which suits your needs.

10. Collect hotel loyalty points

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Just like airlines, all the major hotel chains run their loyalty program, where after collecting some loyalty points, you can redeem them by booking hotel rooms. Now a days we have significant presence of chains like Marriott, Hyatt and Hilton. With a bit of planning, a free room night isn’t far away.

11. Utilize airport lounges

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A bonus for collecting air miles is lounge access. You not only collect miles when you travel frequently, you also rise up the tier as an airline loyalty program member. Few long haul flights can easily make you a platinum, gold or equivalent member.

These members get rewarded more by the airlines with more privileges. One of the privileges, is access to their airport lounges. Some of these lounges (like GVK Bombay, Qatar Doha, Virgin Heathrow) are beautiful with good food, drinks, shower and sometimes massage options. All free!

Now that is what we can call as travelling in style.

12. Get yourself a Priority Pass

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If you haven’t flown so much as to become top tier member of the airline, you still have options. You can buy credit cards which offer priority pass membership.

This membership gives you access to their airport lounges the world over. While these lounges might not be as good as the airline lounge, as our folks in rural India say, you don’t count the teeth of a cow you had been gifted for free.

 

13. Buy city transport passes

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Local transport, even if you are using public transport, can become expensive, especially if you are travelling to Europe or the States. Fortunately, some cities have their transport or city passes which work out to be very economical.

For example, a 3 day Munich pass, which covers all the public transport in the city for ~10 EUR is a steal.  Do some basic research before leaving and you might be able to save a lot.

14. Buy City attraction passes

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Similar to the transport passes, these passes gives you admission to all the tourist attractions in the city during a few days window.

Again, some basic research is needed as sometimes you might not be able to cover all the major attractions during that period and end-up not getting the best out of those passes.

Three days Singapore pass and Stockholm pass of the same duration have been my absolute favorites in terms of the money saved.

15. Buy multi-currency travel card

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It might sound obvious but I will repeat. NEVER EVER exchange money at airport. They give you the worst exchange rate.

Exchanging the currency in city is relatively cheaper option, but still not the best. Also remember, INR is a semi-closed currency, so you won’t find many countries where you can easily exchange it. Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, Sri Lanka being the major exception.

Using your credit card for purchase and Indian ATM card for withdrawing cash is a convenient option, but not the cheapest again.

Multi-currency travel cards are the best bet. Their exchange rate is one of the cheapest (spread is less than 1% of spot exchange rate) and they can double up as a debit card in the foreign location.