I know Covid took all our travel dreams and threw them out of the window, from the twentieth floor, and laughed as they shattered. Reading about travelling, rather, thinking about travelling, that too abroad seems like a sick joke right now.
But hey, I promised to be more optimistic this year (for what, I know right?), and as a wannabe optimist I want to let you know that soon/hopefully/ maybe, you’ll get to travel abroad this year. Your long set plans of visiting Sicily or walking down cute Vietnamese isles will come to fruition. And hey, you better be well planned for it.
Who doesn’t wish to stick to their budget while travelling? But you and I will both be liars if we say we’ve got it right every time. I tend unconsciously to push my budget up and often realise it the hard way. I’m planning (more like hoping) to go to Germany in the next 6-8 months. While it’s just an idea right now, I took the liberty to use this piece as a cue to start my research.
For your sake, and for mine, here are some pointers that we shouldn’t miss while travelling abroad -
When I took my heavily budgeted (i.e Goa under ₹5k) college trips I really slept on this option. Renting or subletting your place has to be one of the easiest ways to maintain your budget. All you need to do is go to Facebook groups, Airbnb, and any other platform you’re okay with and put out a post with your space. Get in touch with people, choose a sublet, and voila! You’ve just added money to your airfare or food.
Just a little catch here, many places or landlords in India are not okay with a tenant subletting the place. Make sure you know the legalities of this one well.
This is a bit of a no-brainer. From tickets to food, everything is discounted ‘off-season’. If you’re sure about your travel, book all your activities, tickets and stays in advance. Chances are, you’ll save quite a bit at this.
Don’t forget to try platforms that could reduce costs even further. Depending on the kind of trip you want to take, check out alternatives to hotels. Another great bonus of going offseason is that you’d get to interact better with locals. When travelling, try to take the local’s word as much as you can. They know the best places to go, the cheapest ways around, and who knows, they might even guide you through it.
Off-season might not have the ideal weather but all in all, it won’t be terrible either. You’d still get to enjoy your destination, in a far cheaper way.
If you aren’t aware of this already, zero forex means that there aren’t any conversion charges applied when you spend abroad. Usually, when you make a purchase, you pay a conversion rate and tax at the very moment. This means that you pay a bit more than the original value of the purchase.
A zero percent forex saves you from the extra bit and you pay the true rate of what an item costs, in the currency of that country. If you’re still confused or want to tap into that zero forex life, check out Fi’s debit card. It’s free of any hidden charges, and you’ll save more to add to your trip.
Every time I plan a trip I make a mental note of how much I’ll spend on travelling, on my stay, on my food, and my activities. I then just add them up to have a ballpark figure within my budget that I try to maintain.
While that’s a good start, I’d say for a vacation abroad, it’s important to really break down all your expenses. Have a budget of pre-trip costs. These could be things like the money you’ll spend on your visa, the shopping for clothes or accessories before you leave and more. Then have your travel costs, right from your airfare to travel once you reach your destination. Similarly, break down expenses with food, experiences, shopping, stay, and more. A good piece of advice I’ve come across is to add about 20% to this total cost to have an accurate figure.
Once you’ve broken down your expenses, it’s time to save for them individually. The best way is to start by seeing where and how you can minimize. Ideally, try to minimize airfare and lodging, these are still in your control as you budget.
Want to add an extra step to this? Invest for each area of expenditure. You can either start a mutual fund or work with smart deposits, based on the time and money you’re starting with. It would be ideal to get at least 10-20% of your travel money from these post-budget investments.
Getting travel insurance in the era of Covid should be nothing less than the holy grail. You never know when another wave starts, your flights get cancelled, you get ill in a different country… the possibilities of things going wrong are a tad too many right now. You want to make sure that you’re covered. Be it missing baggage, frauds, cancellations, or illness, travel insurance will reimburse all things unfortunate. While your trip might still suck because of these things, you won’t waste too much money.
All you have to do is check out the travel insurance with your chosen insurance providers and see if it fits what you need.
Try to have all your bases covered before you start your trip. If you’re travelling solo or really want to add to the experience, try to get in touch with a local before you head-on. Ask them about the best deals, places, foods, experiences which you shouldn’t miss out on.
As you’re travelling, keep your expenditures noted in, just to stay on track. A personal tip is to try cooking your food for a longer trip. If you’re travelling for three weeks, eating out every day is going to be a financial and digestive disaster. If you’re in an Airbnb, use that kitchen for a few good meals. If you aren't, try to build up a sandwich and small homemade snacks.
With that, I want to take a 360° turn back to the beginning of this piece and hope that our travel plans do end up happening in 2022. Cheers!