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Traveling on a Budget : An Achievable Reality

When you are a teenager living on shoestring pocket money, you don't have an option but to travel cheap. But most people have this notion when they are younger, that they would earn loads and travel luxuriously in their twenties, thanks to their dream jobs. Well, most of us realized what a hoax that was - We still don't have enough to take that cruise liner trip, isn't it?

Well for me, nothing has changed. I loved traveling on a budget when I was weird 16 year old, and I love it today, when I'm a weird 20 something. The thing is, I know no other way. Traveling on a budget is ironically the biggest luxury of my life, and once you master it you will never go back.

Himachal Pradesh, India
Traveling the Himalayas on a shoestring budget through public transports

Whatever be the case, if you are still reading this, here are a few tested-tips from my experience for you, to master the art of budget travel -

1. Define your budget

Your budget is not equal to your roommate's budget. Remember that!

The reality is we all have our own pockets, and more often than not I see people overshooting their budgets all the time. Stay true to your own ability to splurge the cash. You'll be alright, trust me! I have taken 5-day long trips (which included airfare) on budgets less than 5 grand - All I had to do was not buy the fancy pair of shoes the previous weekend!

2. Purchase less, but purchase quality

Whenever you plan to purchase anything for your upcoming trip, stick by this tip! Remember, you are not only purchasing for one upcoming trip but many more upcoming trips.

I'm a minimalist and from my experience, it's always beneficial to buy something that lasts (which might be a little pricier), than to buy something which is cheaper but doesn't last more than 1 travel.

3. Learn to sacrifice

There is no easier way to say this, but you would have to choose not to eat at that fancy cafe every day, saying no to the fancy jet-ski plan that your tour guide offers, and maybe passing on the well-cushioned, air-conditioned volvo for your travels.

Triund, Himachal Pradesh
I love the freshly cooked food of random roadside food stalls

Do you want to know how I do it? I keep that fancy cafe for the last day of my stay, so that I have saved enough by then, just as a motivation!

4. Plan a travel that falls under your budget

Oh, how important it is to get this right. Don't plan your trip to just fit your budget, but to fit way under your budget. Confused? Say you have 10K saved for your upcoming travel plan. What I would advise is to plan it all under 7-8K and tuck away the rest as caution money, or even save it for the next trip after that.

I learned this the hard way, it's always a good idea to save wherever and whenever you can! If you are interested, you can always fill up a form on the 'Travel Planner' so that I can help you in your planning.

6. Hostels > Hotels ; Dhabas > Fine dine

Well, this is the reality. And just to show you the other side, I really believe a trip is so much more memorable with hostels and dhabas over hotels and fine dining restaurants.

Hostels help me meet so many amazing people on their own journeys, and dhabas.. Well dhabas fill my heart up, alongside my stomach. Cheap isn't always worse. 🙂

Zostel, Chitkul, Himachal Pradesh
My hostel dorm room on one of my travels in the Himalayas

7. Look out for offers to save money

I will always start doing this a few weeks before I schedule my travels. Many travel portals and websites have distinct offers that can always help you save a few thousand bucks.

Here are the websites I often rely on to make my bookings-,,,

8. Embrace hitch-hiking and sharing conveyance

To be honest, this tip is more of a personal choice. Whenever I'm travelling solo, I love hitch-hiking. This helps me hitch a free ride (often with a local), whilst I can learn a thing or two about the place. I haven't just done this in India, but in places like Thailand too.

Kalpa, Himachal Pradesh
I hitched myself a ride to Kalpa, thanks to a kind passerby in his car

Go ahead, try it! (But be cautious, my friend)

9. Interact with locals

Now you'd wonder how conversing with locals is going to help you save money, right? I have lost count the number of times this very act has saved me a few bucks. You see, locals can help you figure out all the good places to eat in the area that will suit your pocket, in addition to recommending you all the places you can cover in the budget that suits you.

Not only that, there have been so many times that I have stayed over at the place of a local for a day which helped me bring the cost of my trip down really effectively!

10. Plan your travels during night

Book your commute during the night hours. This way, you will help save yourself the unnecessary cost of staying at a hotel for one extra night. All my travels to Himachal Pradesh were done on local HRTC buses during the night hours. Plus, there's is nothing better than a dawning sunrise from a bus window - Experience it to know it 🙂

11. Working while you're traveling

This is more of an add on, and not for everyone especially if you're planning a trip to sit back and just relax. But if you really are an addict to saving as much as you can, it's a great idea to work on the go. You can always opt for taking up a freelance project, or even volunteering at your homestay to cater to fellow travelers. The possibilities are endless if you are keen.

With everything said and done, the only tip I needed when I started out as a budget traveler was to just plan well and see it through my tiny budget. And over the course, I learned through my experiences. So pack that bag well, and head out to explore the beautiful world on your own budget, my friend. 🙂

If you have any questions, please leave me a comment below and I’ll get back to you at the earliest.

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