How to save money on travel is something we get asked a lot. Like us, most of our friends have traveling on their list of priorities, as they want to get away from life ’s mundane schedules and experience the outdoors. The other question that we come across a lot is how do we get out of debt so that we can travel more?
If you want to travel cheaper and more frequently, you need to make your money last during your trips. One of the biggest lessons we learned from driving around the country is that the food you think will be cheap almost never is. Snacks are big budget killers on road trips—packets of Lays and Kurkure’s are irresistible at 20 bucks a packet, and let’s face it: Road trips are full of snack breaks.
We have been on the road for the last 3 months and it does sound like a very expensive affair. But with practice, the right kind of preparation, travel hacks and experience you can also turn your expensive holidays into a more pocket-friendly affair. Here are some travel hacks to save you money on your next road-trip! Remember every penny counts!
Chocolates Are Bad!
Yes, you read that right. Now most travelers, especially bikers will tell you that you need to carry chocolates or energy bars while traveling to provide you with much-needed energy boosts. A lot of our friends also told us the same and we bought around 20 bars of a popular peanut-based chocolate. Soon, we were munching on those whenever we felt hungry or after meals to satiate our sweet cravings but in a few days, we realized that we were spending close to INR 50 on them every day.
Over 90 days of travel, our expenditure on these alone would come up to INR 4,500! That’s way too much to spend on candy!!!! As an alternative, we bought a jar of toffee that was a cheaper substitute and provided us with the same satisfaction as the chocolate bars; but in reduced quantities.
Carry Home-Made Snacks & Fruits
Once you hit the road, usually it is the journey that requires some effort and can easily take a toll on your body and tire you out. Whether you are on a road trip or on a flight, what you eat during your travel matters a lot and quite often, we find ourselves gorging on chips, chocolates, samosas, bread omelet as our favorite travel snacks.
As a cheaper and healthier alternative, we suggest you carry home-made food that doesn’t require refrigeration and can last a long time. For our road trip, we carried lots of home-made cakes, biscuits, Mathis, and nimkis, picked up bread and veggies on the way and made our own veg sandwiches and salads whenever we got hungry!
Carry Your Own Water
This was one travel hack that did save us tons of moolah. Over 90 days, at 5 bottles a day our water expense would be INR 9,000 but we were able to cut this down to around INR 200 because we carried our own water.
When we left from Delhi, we had around 10 bottles with us, which were then refilled in the hotels we stayed. Most hotels provide packaged water free of cost every day and have RO’s installed in their kitchen. Try to fill up before you check out of your hotel, so you don’t end up buying mineral water on your way!
Check Prices Before You Eat
Scan the menu and prices beforehand, so you know what you are getting yourself into. Don’t judge a book by its cover – just because the place you are stepping to looks like a normal highway dhaba, the prices could send you in a tizzy!
In a couple of destinations, especially Kashmir we ordered food without checking the prices, thinking the rates would be at par with other places and got a shock of our lives when the check arrived. Most of these restaurants also sell beverages and packed water above the MRP and you should definitely inquire about the prices before you consume them.
BYOB – Bring Your Own Booze
This one is not for the teetotalers. I remembered that in Spiti when we experienced heavy snowfall, we really wanted to sit indoors and enjoy a drink. A trip to the local bar in Kaza cost us INR 1,200 for a bottle of Romanov vodka, that otherwise would have cost us INR 500-600. Even in Nubra valley, the same bottle cost us INR 1,000. That’s a lot of premium we had to pay as we didn’t carry our drinks with us from Delhi.
If there is no problem of carrying alcohol across state lines, then you can follow this tip to save as well!
Get A Local SIM Card
When you travel, your phone becomes your essential travel buddy, providing you with directions, entertainment, useful tips and helps you being connected with friends and family. All though now in India, most providers have removed charges of incoming calls while roaming, you still have to shell out quite a bit when you make calls to your loved ones. During our travel, we made a lot of calls to our parents, friends, hotels, travel companies etc and saw our roaming bills sky-rocket. So we decided to take a local sim wherever we went.
In Himachal and J&K, we did face challenges in procuring a local BSNL SIM card as they needed local references but somehow through connects we managed to get the required documentation. But it did save us lots of money as our BSNL sim came with free unlimited calls and messages! So if you are used to having long conversations on your phone, we really suggest you get a local SIM and enjoy worry-free talk time!
Make Your Own Tea / Carry A Flask
An expense so small that it hardly goes unnoticed – having chai during road-trips, especially in winters and the rainy season is a must have in India. The innocent looking, small cup of tea now costs INR 10-20 and we often gulp down 3-5 cups in a day. For 2 of us that INR 100 a day and again INR 9,000 for the entire road trip.
What we figured out is that if we carry a big flask we could get it filled while at our hotels, where breakfast is mostly included in the price. Alternatively, we also carried tea bags, milk powder, sugar, utensils from home and all we had to do was arrange for some hot water to go along with it.
Let us know if you have more such money-saving tips and we will be happy to include them here with credit to you! PS – we saved around INR 40,000 using the 7 tips we have mentioned above, so they are definitely tried and tested! Stay tuned for more updates and follow our travels on www.instagram.com/travelmynation