This article is cross posted from Economic Times.
The summer season is here. Many of us are getting ready for our annual holiday travel. Here are some money-saving tips that can help even experienced travellers save their cash. And, if it’s a typical family of four members travelling, then the savings can be up to thousands of rupees. But do keep in mind that this is your vacation time after all, so don’t take all the fun and relaxation out of it by being miserly.
Fly off-peak: If possible, take afternoon flights when the fares are cheaper. Fly at off-peak times. If you stay away from peak hours for business travel, you can save up to Rs 2,000-4,000 per ticket on domestic travel.
Choose low fares: In India as well as globally, there are no-frills airlines that offer cheaper fares. Consider these options over the mainline carriers. You might find that you can save up to Rs 1,000 per ticket.
Take overnight trains:Alternatively, if convenient, you can take an overnight train to your destination. You can sleep comfortably and not lose valuable daytime hours for travel. Trains might be still cheaper than off-peak air travel.
Don’t change your bookings:If you change your bookings, most airlines and travel agencies will charge you penalties to change your tickets. Sometimes, these charges can be as high as Rs 250-1,000 per ticket, depending upon the type of fare you purchased.
Airport or railway station taxis: Airports and stations are infamous for taxi touts who make money from unsuspecting travellers. Many cities have authorised taxi services that operate from airports and stations, so look for these rather than some unlicensed taxi which might scam you of your money.
Travel light:If travelling by air, recognise that airlines will charge you excess baggage fees for luggage above their maximum limits of approximately 20 kgs. Don’t carry items you might never use on holiday. You could end up paying up to Rs 40 per kg of excess baggage on domestic travel, and up to Rs 1,000 per kg on international travel.
Use your loyalty points:Many domestic Indian airlines and credit cards have loyalty programmes through which you could have earned air miles. Redeeming these miles comes with conditions, so it’s best to plan for this early and before the peak season.
HOTELS AND FOOD
Negotiate your room rate: Did you know that you can get better room rates if you just ask for a deal? Don’t just assume that the published rate is the final rate. Many websites today can get you better rates than what the hotels might be advertising themselves. You could save up to 10-15% on your room costs just by asking for a special price, especially if you are travelling on days when hotel occupancy is typically low.
Package deals:Many airlines, hotels and holiday operators offer package deals with travel and hotels included. These can work out to be up to 25% cheaper than if you were to book separately.
Happy hours: If eating out at restaurants during your travel, ask for the specials and the off-peak happy hour deals. You can easily save up to 10-25% on a meal for a family of four.
Eat in: Sometimes, it might be worth your while just to eat on the cheap in your room rather than go out for every meal. Buy some snacks or bread and cheese from the local store, it will be convenient and you can save on tips/gratuity too.
Avoid using hotel’s phones: Avoid making outbound phonecalls from your hotel. Hotels can price their telephone tariffs as high as Rs 10 per minute for local calls, and higher for outstation calls. You might find it cheaper to use your own mobile phone even after paying for roaming charges.
Single supplement: If there are more than two people in a group, some hotels might provide you an extra bed in the same room for a supplementary cost that is cheaper than an additional room. You can save up to 50% on the cost of getting an additional room.
MONEY AND CURRENCY
Carry a pre-paid FX card: If travelling overseas, use the safest option of carrying from India a pre-paid foreign exchange card. You can avoid paying currency exchange fees. You could save up to Rs 1,000-1,500 on every $1,000 of currency conversion.
Avoid or minimise transaction costs: If you choose to exchange currency, do it before you leave. You might find a better rate domestically to convert your rupees into a foreign currency.
Mobile roaming: Limit your outbound calls, and preferably ask others to call you. If traveling abroad, consider options like a local SIM card or getting an international SIM card before you leave India.
Internet access: Some hotels offer internet access for free, and some charge very high rates for every 100kb downloaded. As an alternative, use internet cafes where you can buy time by the minute, and you can pay as you go.
Travel insurance: Don’t travel without it! It will give you a lot of peace of mind.
Keep a copy of your documents:As a back-up, during your travel, keep a photocopy of your important travel documents separate from where you keep your originals. Additionally, leave a copy at home for your family.
Arrive on time: Sometimes flights and hotels can be carelessly overbooked. If you are late to check-in, you might even lose your reservation.