Take a few minutes to read this post to the end for my best travel tips acquired from years of experience that are sure to save you a ton of money!💰
If you do happen to be reading this, you are probably planning a trip to India or already on one. If this is true and you need to save a bit of money, you made a wise choice not to skim past this post.
It is well worth the few minutes it takes to read as you can use these super handy travel tips over and over again. What’s more, this information will also be applicable no matter where you decide to travel in the world. 😎
A brief introduction
When I first started travelling, there were no blogs to read. There was only whatever was written in the guidebooks as a shining light. What was written in them was gospel because there was no alternative information.
Don’t get me wrong; you will still need a guidebook and please don’t neglect to buy one. Guidebooks such as the lonely planet are an essential source of information.
However, today all the alternative information you could ever need can be found at the click of a button, although it varies massively in quality.
Some blogs are brilliant and very original. I recently read a post by Asher Fergusson and discovered taking charcoal tablets will reduce the chances of getting the infamous Delhi belly? Well, I never thought of that! 🤔
On the other hand, I am convinced some bloggers copy and paste whatever they happen to find and call it their own.
All my content is all original with many unique aspects you will not find elsewhere. Everyone’s journey is unique but I think the information here applies to almost everyone so read on guys. 😁
Travel Tip Number 1 — Work out how many days you plan on staying away.
It does not sound like a huge deal but you need to have a clear plan if you want to create and stay on a budget. You must have some idea of what is coming to stand a chance and the first step is to know exactly how many days will you travel.
Total up the number of days from the start and finish. Be sure to include your flight days because they also count. Calculate the number of days against your chosen budget.
An example for clarity.
My budget is 30 pounds a day because I like a little comfort and say I book 100 days. I then will calculate 30 times 100 days. That is £3000, which will cover my basic expenses for the duration of my time on the road. By that, I mean the cost of sleeping, eating, entrance into attractions and travel.
Knowing the answer to how much you will spend before you arrive will give you a much better chance you are managing your money correctly.
Pro-tip to save £££
Once you arrive at your destination and clear customs, change a little money at the airport because that is by far the worst exchange rate you will get.
That becomes your base rate for your daily spending. Say you get 88 rupees per pound, and you have decided your budget is 30 pounds a day. So your daily spend is 88 times 30, which equates to 2640 rupees per day.
When you get into town, you will almost certainly get more. For the sake of argument, we will say 92 rupees per pound.
That gives you an extra 4 rupees per pound. Change 1000 pounds, and you get 4000 more than you would do in an airport, but you have kept your daily budget the same at 2640 rupees. That 4000 you just made can be carried over when you need it.
I hope you can understand what I am saying clearly, and if you don’t, please don’t be afraid to ask. This method is cost-effective and well worth you trying for yourself. You will have to log everything, but I will get into that shortly.
A word of caution
When you withdraw money from an ATM the banks at both ends will probably charge you something for the transaction, and the exchange rate will not be as good as you would get for hard cash.
You will also have to watch how the exchange rates fluctuate daily. Keeping an eye on this can help you choose when to change or withdraw money for maximum profit. Again I will go into more detail on this shortly, so read on.
Tip number 2 — Decide on your float.
Not sure what a float is? Well, that’s understandable since I made it up, but let me explain since having one will help you keep control and organise your spending.
What I call the float is the lump of money I have saved to do things not included in my daily spending, such as organised treks, extreme sports, national parks, diving and just about any other extra cost you can see coming in your plans.
If a large portion of your trip is on an organised tour, I think it is blindingly obvious to factor that into the daily spending, but that is not the case for most backpackers.
Something to consider
Often, plans change, and it is good to have that freedom. Maybe someone says it is lovely over there, and you decide to check it out for yourself.
However, it is essential to have a rough idea of where you want to go and what you want to see.
If you have a coherent plan of the places you plan on going and the activities you will be engaging in, it will make working out your essential daily spending more simple.
A travel tip for finding inspiration
If you are stuck on where that plan might take you and need ideas, use the internet and look for images that excite you.
Alternatively, check out blogs like mine as there are so many options for how to spend your time travelling. You could start by checking out my blog on the 11 best tourist sights in India. 😍
I often flick through guide books to get inspired. Using these resources will give you an idea of what states are budget-friendly and what states are not. I also found Incredibleindia.org to be an excellent source of inspiration. It is the indian governments official tourism website.
Travel tip number 3 — Keep a record of your spending.
Have a notebook that you keep on your person at all times where you can jot down your daily spending.
Record when you save any money from your total daily budget. Include when you make or lose money on the exchange rate as it all adds up.
Anything that is surplus always gets carried over to your float, and it is also your salvation when you go over your daily spending.
Keeping a record helps you to not get into a mess with your budget as no one wants to have to come home early. At the end of every night, total up what you have spent, and you can work out where you stand.
Tip number 4 — Save money on transport in India.
India is massive! Where you can get overnight trains or busses to save on accommodation. If you have to make long journeys, it is better to do them at night.
If you choose not to, you will have to pay money to make the journey and then pay for a hotel. It makes no sense if that option is available because one cost can cover the other in your daily spending. Of course, if there is no trainer bus , you can’t use this trick, but if you can, it is a game-changer for your budget.
The good news is that given India’s vast size the option to use this little trick comes up often. If the bus or train leaves late in the evening, you may have to pay for a half-day at your hotel and that is a service many hotels offer.
That usually means up to about 5 to 6 pm. That is still better than paying for a whole night, isn’t it?
Bonus travel tip: Save money using public transport in India
When moving around cities, you could negotiate the bus or subway systems instead of using taxis all the time to keep the costs down significantly. They can be a headache, but they are far cheaper.
If you got a taxi, I suggest you download the Uber or Ola apps for the best price. Better yet, contact one of the shared tuk-tuk services you can find in many cities across the country.
Travel tip number 5 — Eat locally.
Eat locally sounds obvious, but it deserves some explaining. Tourist food costs more to buy, so the cost is shown in the prices on the menu.
Also, restaurant owners are reluctant to throw anything away because the ingredients are more expensive to buy. This can cause problems for you if you wind up eating old food.
All of the worst cases of food poisoning in all my years of travel in South Asia have been from tourist restaurants, and when I say my worst, I mean life-threatening.
However, you have to take it slow and build yourself up to eating locally every day. Many of us are not used to it, and our bellies will find it all too rich.
For the first few weeks of starting a long journey, I tend to have a western breakfast and a local dinner. As soon as my belly is ready to take it, I eat local food only as it is cost-effective and tastes better anyway.
Check out my post on medium on my tried and tested methods to avoid the Delhi belly and to arm yourself with the knowledge to keep you out the hospitals.
Indian people have mastered Indian food, but not so much when it comes to delicate pasta. I am sure Indian people feel the same way when they come to the UK and see our attempts at making a Bhuna. They must think, what on earth is that! The moral of the story there is when in Rome…..
Travel tip number 6 — consider the impact of domestic tourism in India.
When planning a trip to India, a helpful tip is to consider domestic tourism’s impact on your budget. It is not obvious, it can be a far more significant issue than it sounds at face value.
A handful of the younger Indian tourists travel for more than just a few days. Think about that for a moment.
If you were planning on going somewhere nice for the weekend, you wouldn’t mind spending a little, would you? In short, if you are somewhere that the Indian people also enjoy, you will struggle to stay on a budget as prices will go up on everything.
Fortunately, what western tourists want from their holiday and what domestic tourists wish to be a different sport. So much so that I have seen that Lonely planet has written another series just for Indian tourists.
When backpackers and domestic tourists want the same thing, there are no prizes for guessing what most business owners will gear themselves towards. It is just good economics, in my opinion.
Here is an example
There is a lake called Pangong Tso in Ladakh that was previously of no interest to domestic tourists.
Backpackers could stay for just a few hundred rupees in the villages along the shores of the high mountain lake.
Then there was a blockbuster movie titled The Three Idiots that was hugely popular, and it featured Pangong Tso.
It took the Indian people’s interest, and now it is tough to get a room around the lake for less than a couple of thousand rupees. Public holidays can cause prices to triple overnight, so stay on top of any upcoming events to save your budget.
Travel tip number 7 — Take it slow
Please don’t rush backpacking! Doing this puts the costs of your trip up fast. Not only that, it stops you from properly taking in what you came to see.
You are only there once, so enjoy the moment and be kind to yourself. I often see my fellow travellers cramming far too much into their itineraries. What will ultimately happen is that you will spend all your time on public transport if you do this.
When I visit a major attraction, I budget about four days for my visit. For minor destinations, I will only budget three.
If I have any time leftover, then good for me. I can invest that time somewhere else, but often that is not enough. Sometimes I will visit places and plan on a few days then wind up spending a couple of weeks.
This will happen! Especially along the coasts or on islands where you find your little slice of tropical heaven. It must be a shock to no one that travellers are reluctant to leave paradise.
Another pro travel tip for you
Try and keep an eye on the route as well. I suggest drawing it on a map to see what it looks like.
If it is all over the place, you should consider changing it as backtracking costs you more money and more importantly, your time! You will probably only be in that area once in your lifetime, so it makes sense that you want the best value for money as humanly possible.
Tip number 8 — Think about the time of year you visit India.
If you travel to one of the Travel Inn hotels in the UK and costs £66 a night in July, it will also cost the same in December.
However, this is not the case in India. With the peak tourist season comes the peak tourist prices. Oddly this does not only apply to hotels. Costs of seemingly unrelated services such as a tuk-tuk can also significantly become more expensive.
In some destinations, such as Goa or Rajasthan, these differences can become very dramatic as you struggle to find a bed.
I will also add that just because it is the peak season, it does not mean it is the best time for your visit, and you will have to share your experience with oodles of other backpackers.
Before I move on, I will have to justify myself on what I have just said. So I am planning to visit Ranthambhore national park in Rajasthan. The peak season is shortly after the monsoon, when it is fantastic.
The climate is pleasant, but humans are not the only creatures that find this time glorious. There will be water sources everywhere, and the foliage will be at its thickest.
You will inevitably have to share the routes with scores of other jeeps whose engines will scare off any wildlife sitting directly on the road.
What’s more, you will be paying peak prices for having the luxury of all these handicaps.
In summary of my post on my best travel tips to save money
How much is all this going to cost? It must be one of the most frequently asked questions, and I hope my posts have been helpful in my readers getting a grip on working out the answer to that question.
Make a plan before you leave. It does not matter if you do not stick to it regimentally as long as you know what you want and where you are going. Get inspired and dream!
After all, it gives you a reason to get out of bed in the morning and face the grind of ordinary life.
Work out the number of days and how big your float needs to be, based on your predicted activities. Keep track of your spending and try and stay within your guidelines.
Be reasonable with yourself when working out your daily budget. You want to be able to do the things you wish to, which involves you being realistic. Ten dollars a day is not enough to survive, let alone thrive and appreciate what you do.
I know correctly budgeting your money is vital information for many of us, so I have made this post as coherent and detailed as possible.
If I have missed anything and you have any more questions, leave a question in the box provided, and I will get back to you.
Try not to fret too much about the costs as India is an excellent value for money. Just enjoy what is likely to be some of the best days of your lives—happy trails, my fellow intrepid travellers and until next time.