Issues and Challenges

How to Plan Trips on a Budget

With almost one and a quarter year into pandemic-induced intermittent lockdowns, restricted mobility and hesitant family meetups, what can be better than planning a trip to a recreational site? You might agree but at the same time nod disapprovingly terming it impossible because you are on a budget. We know that the pandemic has hit everyone’s finances but that does not mean that you cannot go on a vacation. We are going to help bust the myth that travelling always breaks one's bank.
It all depends on your travel style, if you don't follow the typical course and customize your trip according to the available resources, you will be amazed to find how little you need to satisfy your sightseeing needs. The rule of the thumb is to take a longer trip. The money that goes into a trip can be split into three major categories: Pre-trip prep, expenses during the trip and emergency funds. Among these, some are fixed expenditures while others can be reduced according to your budget.
To make a budget for a vacation, follow these simple steps: 

Keep In Mind the Total Budget That You Have
Your trip will revolve around the destination you would like to visit. If you are on a tight budget, quit the idea of going far away and plan a weekend escape or opt for a day trip instead.
With a relatively bigger budget, you can plan a bigger trip. Remember that tourist attractions are usually expensive. Consider visiting a relatively less-travelled but tourist-friendly place. Still, if you’re hell-bent on visiting a tourist site, consider staying in a town nearby, which is usually less expensive. With a little extra commute, you can visit the site and also cut down on the expenses. The time of the trip is also important. Try to avoid the peak holiday season. Visiting cold weather climates in the summer season can cost you more. On the flip side, going to warm-weather climates in the winter season will be pricey too. 
Deduct the Travel/Flight and Accommodation Expense
While booking a flight keep in mind that the best time for booking is around three and-a-half-months ahead of time. However, if you have missed that opportunity already, know that the rates are different depending on day and time of the week. Skyscanner is a traveller’s favourite as it helps them estimate different airfares before deciding the time of the trip. Furthermore, a round trip always costs less than a one-sided ticket. Similarly, connecting flights might consume more time but isn’t it a decent idea to turn your long layover into a trip itself? Sounds nice, doesn't it?
When it comes to accommodation, look for local, smaller hotels that are not part of big chains. Local B&Bs and rest houses go the extra mile to satisfy their customers. You can also do a little bargaining in case you decide to stay longer. Beware though, hotels that advertise they speak English are costly as they are designed for the business community. 
If you are a social person, you can stay in a hostel too. It won’t give you a high-quality living and you may have to share the room with a stranger, but with basic facilities available it will surely be lighter on your pocket. Private rooms are also available in hostels. Visit sites like hostelworld.com if you are interested in staying at a hostel.
Renting an apartment is another option as natives take interest in renting out their place for a certain period of time. For this, the best website to turn to is Airbnb. Read reviews from previous visitors to know about the state of the apartment and the friendliness of the owners. The hosts can also provide you with information about the best local food and sights worth visiting. This will give you a chance to observe the local culture closely without worrying about the budget.
Visit homeexchange.com if you are willing to swap your house with someone else. If you strain your thinking muscles before the trip, you might probably remember that a friend or a distant family relative lives in or around the place you want to visit. This can save you daily expenses like housing, food and transportation. However, do not forget to reciprocate with some nice gifts.
Have you ever heard of couch surfing? The website couchsurfing.com helps you connect with a stranger who can host you and in return, you will host others at your place at some other time. Don’t worry if the above mentioned housing ideas seem uncomfortable, you can always avail good deals offered by the vacation packages at a reasonable rate. 
Divide the Leftover for Daily Expenses
Now, that you have reached your desired place and have chosen the perfect living option, what comes next? Food, of course! You cannot fully celebrate your trip if your tummy is not attended to. If you are into DIY, we bet you love to cook food on your own. Ask locals about their staple or favourite food recipes and try them. If successful, you can make some quick bucks by providing food to other tourists too. Consider packing home cooked food rather than spending money on expensive restaurants, particularly if you’re planning a day trip. 
But if you are not into cooking, we suggest having the main meal of the day in the morning or at lunchtime but never at dinner. Dinners steal more from your wallet! Order from local restaurants rather than buying from chain restaurants. You can also learn from people who travel frequently. They always keep a box of healthy snacks and a water bottle with them, eating from it, from time to time to save them from the temptation of spending on unhealthy snacks.
Never use taxis or rental cars, use local public transport instead. It will allow you to observe the local culture and interact with the natives more closely. Remember to pack lightly, it will save you from paying extra charges for your luggage.
It is advisable to use cash instead of cards. Avoid currency exchange at airports. Use an ATM at a local bank. However, to avoid service charges for each transaction, consider drawing a big sum of money at one time. Keep an eye out for discounts and coupons, these are available online. 
It is obvious that while relishing your trip, you want to be connected to your loved ones back home. For this, rely mostly on free messaging apps like WhatsApp and Skype rather than calling them from cellular networks. Another cost effective way is to use international phone cards if you’re travelling abroad.
While making your travel budget always remember to set some money aside as your emergency fund. Keep track to make sure you do not exceed the limit because remember that there is nothing worse than paying for a vacation for months after it’s over but with these steps you can plan, and budget ahead of time and ensure that the bills do not follow you home. HH


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