My Bits on How to Budget Travel or Backpack in India
Make “Cheap Thrills” your favorite song!
“Baby I don’t need dollar bills to have fun…” Moments like sitting by the beach or between mountains and watching the sunset, staring while listening to the sound of birds chirp and waterfall, sitting by the riverside meditating or just reaching a beautiful view with your friends and having maggi with chai. Such moments are priceless!
Backpacking has been the best kind of travel experience for me to date. It is not only pocket friendly but also comes with a whole lot of experience. I could also travel to more places with a limited budget.
Honestly, when I started traveling, I was not even aware that the way I traveled to save money and experience more was called “Backpacking”. Once I remember being so stupid and unaware of this term that I spelled Backpacking as “Bag packing”. Ok do not laugh at me now, I call it Budget Traveling. Hehe.
There is a sense of curiosity among many of you on how to go about Budget Traveling. I have tried to jot down as much I have personally experienced in this blog. I really wish that it helps you plan your upcoming budget travel in India.
The time of your travel matters, try off-season or weekdays
During the off-season there are not many tourists in the area, hence the business owners try to lower the price to attract more people. Accommodation becomes cheaper in many places. If off-season is not possible, try weekdays over weekends. I mostly did my travels off-seasons or worked weekends to take leave during weekdays.
If you enjoy peace, another best part of traveling off-season or weekdays is comparatively less crowded. To me lesser the crowd more beautiful the place feels.
Backpacking hostels over hotels any day
Backpacking hostels are more focused on providing an experience stay than a luxury. Even in these budget hostels, you will find various ranges. Trust me sometimes the cheapest of hostels turn out to be the best experiences. You may not get a comfortable mattress to sleep in or a very good infrastructure but that is a part of it. Even if its mud house, cleanliness, environment, and view matter a lot to me.
Sometimes you may find small hostels which are off-road, and your cab or bus might not even reach there. You then walk through those tiny roads finding your way towards the hostel. You experience the beauty of non-urbanization and when you reach you might be filled with aww over the scene it has to offer to you.
Railways and Buses makes it fun and experiential
Growing up in a middle-class family, railways and buses were a very important part of my life since childhood. I remember heading to my Nani’s house every vacation via railways and fighting with my siblings to get a window seat. The passing trees as if they were running, small ponds, grasslands, the speedy wind making my hair blow were all so fascinating, they still are. Those strangers in the front seat who sometimes picked up the most interesting conversation.
Make trains and buses journey of joy and sceneries. Fall in love with yourself while the wind blows, and you listen to your favorite love song. Does not it sound great!
Fall in love with taking long walks!
Walking a few kilometers to reach nearby places not only saves money but also is a much better way to explore the place and interact with locals.
The first time when I went to Dharamshala, I walked from the Mcleodganj Bus stand to Bhugsu Waterfall after discovering the cab charges. A group of construction workers including males and females was headed towards the same place. I walked with them and had a nice chat along the way.
I explored Rishikesh mostly walking from one place to another. Walking around 10 km daily became a habit.
To reach Gun Hilltop in Mussoorie there are two ways, you can either walk or take a ropeway. I decided to walk to save money. On the way, I met an amazing group of people. I also met locals who told me a bit about the local places. I was glad I made that decision.
Local buses over cabs save a hell of a lot of money
When the distance is too long enough to walk, get to know about local buses. I remember paying 60 bucks for the local bus in Coorg whereas the cab was costing around 500 bucks. Can you imagine the difference in cost!
Tell you what, buses give a very personal touch to the lives of locals in that place. I remember an incident when I was in a small village near Dehradun where only minibusses passed by a few times a day. Cab service was there but it was costing me 800 bucks that day during the evening. I decided to wait for that bus. When I finally got into the bus it was filled with local villagers who were baffled seeing me. They saw I had two backpacks with me hence so many of them offered their seat to me as a courtesy. They made sure I was comfortable. I had never felt so safe on a crowded bus especially after my 3 years of college in Delhi.
Always be on the lookout for offers and discounts
Grabbing onto good offers on transport and stay can help you reduce costs while backpacking. I have not been very lucky in this matter, but it will not harm me to keep this in mind.
Manage your food expenses like a pro
Wherever I am traveling, I wake up and find warm water to drink first thing in the morning. Then I try to have fruits (which I buy from some local vendor than ordering fruit salad at any café).
During the day I find local food joints, small dhabas to find yummy and cheap food to eat. I used to have dosa for 40 bucks or veg thali for 60 bucks in Rishikesh for 9 days and I was totally fine and healthy. Always carry Parle G or any of your favorite snacks in your bag with you. This will help you be within your budget.
For dinner, I usually visit some famous food joints and order their specialty. One should dine and pamper oneself too at some known café or restaurants while visiting any place. It is part of the overall experience. So, I keep the Dinner for the same.
Solo travel is fun but sometimes traveling with friends can be fun and pocket friendly
It is important that your friend is as driven to travel budget-friendly as you otherwise you may end up spending more. Traveling with friends is fun (only if you have the energy to make the trip happen!) and saves money as lots of bills get split at times and they act as your support system throughout.
These are a few pointers I have tried to share via this blog. This might help the beginners planning to backpack in India.
Budget Traveling or Backpacking is not just in trend for its reasons for being a cheap and affordable way to travel but also because of the immense and diverse experiences it brings to us. A lot of us now have started to travel for exploring and experiencing than just as a normal getaway to relax and chill.
There is so much more to share from my travel memories. I will try to come up with more blogs soon.
Keep Traveling. Be Happy. Be Responsible.