9 ways to make international travel affordable

A trip overseas doesn’t mean you say goodbye to your savings.
Image courtesy: Lonely Planet/Justin Foulkes

A trip overseas doesn’t mean you say goodbye to your savings. Quite the opposite, in fact. All you need is some planning, a little bit of research and some flexible options.

1. Plan a trip as early as you can, six months ahead is typically a good lead time for you to get cheaper air fares. I use Skyscanner (www.skyscanner.co.in) for checking flight options.

2. Not sure if you’ll be able to take a vacation six months from now? Don’t fret. Look for refundable air tickets or those with minimal cancellation charges.

3. You will need to book accommodation in advance, especially if required for a visa application. Sites such as booking.com offer flexible deals with even zero cancellation charges, at times, in case you change your mind later.

4. Pack light – if possible, just a single backpack or cabin bag. Not only does this eliminate check in baggage fees (especially on no-frills airlines), but also saves time when you move around. Remember to check the dimensions for cabin baggage on the airline’s website.

5. When it comes to shampoos and other liquids, pick up sachets or small bottles from a convenience store in the destination city. That way you also contribute to the local economy, and do away with the headache of liquid spills in your luggage.

6. There is free wifi available at most places these days – airports, restaurants and hotels, and if not, local country prepaid calling and data cards can be easily purchased at most international airports and convenience stores. Remember to switch off cellular data when not using it.

7. Unless you’re travelling to a lesser-known or less explored destination, skip booking through travel agencies. It is always more fun to plan a trip on your own, and many apps and websites now offer suggested activities and itineraries. You can always book day tours and activities after you reach the destination. Check sites such as viator (www.viator.com), freetoursbyfoot (www.freetoursbyfoot.com) etc., for options. You can also check toursbylocals (www.toursbylocals.com) for guides who can arrange your itinerary and help you with local knowledge and recommendations.

8. You will save a lot of money picking up water bottles, snacks, knick knacks at thrift or convenience stores (and not at hotels or restaurants). In fact, carry an empty water flask with you that you can refill instead of buying water bottles.

9. Use public transport whenever possible, especially in countries where mass transit systems are developed. Often, prepaid cards as well as multi-day/weekly passes are easily available.

These opinions/recommendations are the author’s own and do not reflect those of Lonely Planet India.


AUTHOR'S BIO: An economics graduate from Lady Shri Ram College, Delhi and an MBA from Xavier Institute of Management, Bhubaneshwar, Gitika started flirting with photography in 2011 and it has been a constant companion ever since. She enjoys taking photographs related to travel, humanitarian causes, festivals and celebrations and once in a while, likes to connect dots and find the common thread between images of people and places. More on: www.gitikasaksena.com