Photo Credits: Contiki
South Asians don't book holidays themselves. More often than not, they go through the process of planning a vacation via travel agents (lol wtf and why?!). Not only is it an expensive procedure that potentially leaves us broke - there is also no need for a third-party to plan our vacation. If your bank account is in a state of perpetual misery - then these tips will definitely help in planning a fantastic getaway within a set budget.
1. Opt for inexpensive holiday destinations:
Don't immediately opt for Japan or anywhere in Europe - A.K.A expensive countries, especially if it's your first ever trip abroad. There are 196 nations around the world and all of them offer incredible insight into different cultural experiences. Therefore, opt for holiday destinations that have lower costs of living (example: many countries in South East Asia) and offer attractive exchange rates as well.
2. Pick your vacation dates in advance:
Choosing dates in advance, particularly off-peak seasons, is a great start to travelling...away from the usual horde of tourists. Tons of money is also saved in the process of getting hold of cheap return flights. In case you wish to travel during peak tourist season, plenty of airlines offer summer/winter sales where airfare can go down to as low as 50% off.
3. Set a maximum budget:
It is absolutely essential to set a maximum budget that will comprise of travelling, accommodation, commuting, living expenses, meals and airport transfers. Lay out a fixed financial estimate depending on how much you wish to spend, and evenly distribute said amount for each category while planning your holiday.
4. Stick to your budget:
Once you have a set budget, it is imperative that you stick to it. Resist the urge to unnecessarily splurge on lavish meals and overpriced souvenirs.
5. Consider an all-inclusive holiday:
If budget isn't a problem but you still wish to keep it pocket-friendly, then consider an all-inclusive holiday package. One upfront payment is responsible for flights, accommodation, meals and airport transfers. Compare individual prices to the chosen package and write down the amount of money saved - potentially saved for activities, entertainment and tours.
6. Avoid shopping sprees:
Don't go souvenir crazy. I know it's easier said than done, but I religiously stick to the 'fridge-magnet' rule. Buy one fridge magnet for each country you visit, and let that be the treasured souvenir. Avoid overpriced tourist shops that are known for ripping visitors off and opt for stalls/vendors for half the price of the desired memento.
7. Cheap meals:
The best part about staying in hostels or AirBnBs is having your own kitchen. Not only is cooking cheaper, but you're also in touch with freshly cooked/homemade food. However, if you're staying in a hotel - budget supper clubs and budget cafes exist in pretty much every country around the world. Street food is also always cheaper than a restaurant, and the option of buying snacks from the local grocery store is ever present. Many restaurants hold meal deals throughout the year which are worth looking into.
8. Final check:
Before giving the final green signal to the holiday destination of your choice, make sure the total price with the chosen airline operators is double-checked. All the extras, such as on-board meals, baggage and credit card fees are exactly within your budget, and don't hold the possibility of adding up. A company which seems cheaper initially, might end up being expensive later (especially true for budget airlines).