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20 Useful Tips For Travellers Planning A Trip On A Shoestring Budget

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By Ashni Dhaor:

They say, “Travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer”. This statement might be true to its philosophical sense, but in reality, travelling does cost you. Everything, from the journey, to food and accommodation, nothing is possible without emptying your pockets. Every travel-lover has struggled through those ‘broke days’ in order to go on a vacation. Hence, to your rescue, here are 20 tips which you should know every time you decide to travel in India.

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1. Choose offbeat destination:

India is a vast country, and if explored correctly, it can open to you its beauty at unexpected destinations! Travelling and accommodation costs are always cheap at offbeat tourist destination. Places like Roopkund lake, Khajjar and Malana are some of the must visit places in the Himalayas because of the beauty, the adventure and cheap accommodation and food as well.

2. Explore travel destinations around your home:

Explore new arenas around your place of residence which won’t require much of travelling costs, and at the same time, will give you your much needed vacation. The place might require a 4-6 hour journey which can be travelled by bus at cheap rates.

3. Plan a vacation in off-season:

Tourist season is generally the time during winter or summer vacations in schools. That is the time when most families decide to go on a vacation and the prices of everything possible at the tourist destination sky-rockets to new heights. Planning a vacation in off-season not only means cheap food and accommodation, but it also gives you the added benefit of enjoying the beauty without any rush or noise of a huge crowd.

4. Book accommodations in advance:

If your travel plans are not made at the spur of the moment, then you can try to look up cheap hotels and guesthouses on the internet and book them way in advance. This will give you huge discounts and there won’t be any last minute hassles.

5. Stay at a friend or relative’s home:

It’s time to re-establish long forgotten ties with that relative whom you never met or that friend who moved out of the city as they might just accommodate you in their house! This is the best way to cut accommodation costs when planning a trip to a city where your relative or friend might be staying.

6. Home stays:

Home stay is essentially a concept used by cultural exchange students who stay with the host family instead of renting a room in a hotel. This idea is soon becoming a thing for the travelers since it is comfortable, affordable and you get to make new friends as well as learn the culture of the place. You can look it up on the internet and book your home stays at cheap prices.

7. Travel overnight and save on night stay:

You need to be clever in order to save money. Travel overnight and reach the hotel right in the morning (around 12PM, as the usual check out time is 12PM in most hotels) which will save you charges of one whole day. This trick is always useful since you can save money, as well as utilize the day time for exploring the city and sightseeing, hence earning you an extra day without an additional cost!

8. Carry home-made food for journey:

Though we tend to munch on chips and snacks during journey hours, but preferring to carry food can save you a whole lot of money. Additionally, eating outside during journey can result in a heavy stomach which may need frequent trips to the loo which in turn might be difficult during a journey.

9. Try out the street food rather than eating at the hotel:

Once your journey is over, you must explore the dhabas and street food of the city rather than eating at the hotel. The price of a lunch at your hotel can buy you three full course meals at a dhaba. Trying out the street food will also cut off the cost by a huge margin and also introduce you to the local culture.

10. Travel in the local inter-state buses:

Rather than booking a lavish taxi for your sight-seeing, travel in the inter-state buses which the locals use for commuting. These will be three times cheaper than a taxi, and you can get a chance to look into the everyday lives of the people.

11. Bargain as much as you can:

This is an art which you must master in if you wish to save cash. Do some research beforehand and get an idea of the cost of the service or product you are vying for. Bargain in hotels, taxis or any shopping that you might be indulging in. Shopkeepers at tourist places tend to raise their prices since tourists seldom have any idea of the reasonable cost of the product. Remember, you will definitely be charged more than the locals, so don’t forget to bargain!

12. Make friends with the local people and gain benefits:

Though this may sound a tad bit selfish, but making connections and friends at the destination can help you loads if you try to garner benefits. They know the cheapest places for almost everything you can possibly do there. The local people might get you discounts at the food joints, can offer you lift from one place to another, and, if you feel safe, you can also stay over at their place cutting down a huge chunk of your travel budget. Though this option is not so safe, but isn’t life all about taking risks?

13. Avoid going to places where entry fee is required:

If you love nature, then museums and forts might not interest you as much as a silent moments at the waterfall. If you are low on budget, avoiding tourist spots with entry fees is the trick. A walk on the roads or exploring the townships around might be a good idea.

14. Be choosy while shopping:

Don’t buy stuff from shops which you might get in your city as well. While shopping, look for things which are famous in the particular area, like wood art crafts from Himachal Pradesh or Bandhinis from Rajasthan. Buying souvenirs is not recommended when on a tight budget. Memories and photographs should be your best keepsakes.

15. Try travelling in large groups:

Travelling in groups of friends or family is safe as well as cost effective, since after dividing everything, per person cost amounts to way lesser than what it had been individually. Instead of getting one room for one person, the same room can be shared by two people, cutting down on the cost. You can try various kinds of dishes as well by order a little of everything since ultimately, per person bill would be very less.

16. Carry less luggage:

If you are travelling by air, avoid carrying heavy luggage since you might end up paying extra for the weight.

17. Keep a reservoir of snacks in your bag:

If you get too low on budget, surviving on chips and maggi might not be a bad option.

18. Cheap accommodation near the tourist spots:

When looking for cheap accommodation, your main criteria should be security and cleanliness of the place. If you have shopping in your agenda, look for a hotel near the marketplace so that you don’t spend much on commuting. However, if you wish to go sightseeing or be close to nature, chose an accommodation near that place for the same reasons.

19. Light luggage means travelling on foot:

Save your money by travelling on foot for going from one spot to another for short distances, with or without luggage. You would have an added advantage if your luggage is light. Plus, you can immerse yourself in the culture and sightseeing.

20. Never book tour packages through agents:

Always book your whole vacation yourself and never resort to travel agents if you are really trying to keep your pockets full. Planning and booking on your own gives you the freedom to chose your own itinerary, and at the same time, you can cancel some of the spots later as well. Booking through agents should be considered a luxury for people who are low on budget.

All these points may help you cut off on your travelling cost by more than half, but one must consider travelling as a lifetime investment because of the rewards of memories, experiences and adventure which you get to take home with you and cherish them forever.

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

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Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

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A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

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A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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