How to Have a Cheap Vacation
chillibreeze writer — Kalpana Sunder
>> Get a list of quick and easy Weekend Getaways from Bangalore
With global recession and spiraling costs, here are some tips to travel smart:
1. STAY OUTSIDE THE CITY CENTRE;
Usually, hotels in the city centre are quite expensive. Stay away from the city and use the public transport system for local sightseeing. What you spend on transport will be nothing compared to the savings in hotel costs.
Try to find apartments which are equipped with modern amenities and give you an option of making a quick meal. Also, find out about local home stay programs, which not only help you save money, but also give you a unique perspective of a local’s life. This option provides you with food, accommodation, local sightseeing and even social interaction with the locals. Always research, call and negotiate!
2. DINE IN
Instead of spending money on restaurants and cafés, go to the nearest grocery store and stock up on juices, bread and fruits that you can store in your hotel room. Keep your backpack loaded with small eats like sandwiches, cheese, fruits and a drink so that you can have an impromptu picnic anywhere! Also, shop at supermarket chains, where you can pick up ready-to-eat pizzas and other food which only need to be microwaved for a few minutes.
Always buy the alcohol at stores, rather than going to a bar. When you do dine out, eat like the locals and at places where they eat. Eat and drink local food, even beer and coffee-it is inexpensive and tastier.
3. TRAVEL ESSENTIALS
Carry certain items from home so that you don’t spend heavily, like a cell-phone with a prepaid card, a first-aid kit, an umbrella/windcheater for ever-changing weather, cells for torch and cameras and an extra memory card for a digital camera.
4. LAUNDER SMART
Carry clothes that are easy to wash and dry and are versatile. A light jacket with a hood for the sun or rain is a good idea. Find out where the local Laundromat is and head for it instead of using the hotel laundry service. The other alternative is to rent an apartment where gadgets like washing machine and dryer are built into the costs.
5. LOCAL TRANSPORT
Most cities have a combined card for a certain number of days which can be used across all means of transport. Invest in this card and enjoy massive savings! Sometimes, this card also gives access to local sights like museums, art galleries, zoos and heritage buildings.
6. BE YOUR OWN TOUR GUIDE
Do a little legwork on the Internet and with a guide-book and make your own itinerary with details on how to reach the local sights. Get a detailed map. The most entertaining tours are usually on public transport. Check out if there are any free walking tours. You can avoid a huge sum of money paid to local tour operators, sightseeing buses or expensive private guides.
7. COMPARE COSTS
Don’t buy souvenirs in a hurry. The smart thing to do is to visit a couple of stores and buy on the last day so that you,re clear that you,re making a good decision. The best place to pick up gifts for people back home is sometimes the local grocery store- some local pickles or sweets! Take a digital camera and shoot lots of photographs. These could be the best souvenirs to take back.
8. TAKE A PHRASEBOOK
Try and learn a few words of the local language like a survival kit. After all, you are less likely to get ripped off if you can understand or speak the local lingo. Also, you endear yourself to the locals by speaking in their language.
9. TAKE THE TRAIN
Discovering the country from the window of a train is always an experience of a lifetime. Besides, it helps you make tremendous savings when compared to air travel. This is also an opportunity to interact with the locals and get a real whiff of what makes the country tick.