There was a time when our parents had to plan so much in advance, along with saving a huge pile of money, to plan that prestigious foreign holiday. Needless to say that today travelling abroad has become easier in more ways than we can imagine, thanks to a plethora of options of places and budgets for all travellers. There are thousands of great travel blogs that let you in on the secret of how to travel the world for really cheap and have the most exciting and unique adventures.
While backpacking abroad usually was a privilege of people well settled into their 30s in the past, that is no longer the case. Most people in their 20s are already pros at travelling the world as they have the income and resources at their disposal.
Here are some great tips which can help anyone in their 20s to make the most of their backpacking trips anywhere in the world.
The six week rule: Book well enough in advance to get cheaper tickets and to even pay off those installments (if you got your tickets on EMI) before you head out. The common wisdom on the internet rules that six week before the trip is generally a good time to book your tickets.
Try and avoid peak season: Off season not only gives you cheaper tickets and accommodation, but also lets you escape the thronging crowds. Summer is usually is a peak season, so opt for autumn/winters.
Compare and compare: Do a thorough comparing of various airline tickets through some brilliant tools offered by sites like Expedia, TripAdvisor, Kayak and Skyscanner.
Go local in a global country: Book local airlines for travel within any country and you would be surprised by how much your cost has come down.
Be a travel hack: Work around to figure out how to draw the maximum number of free miles/rewards/bonus points to get cheap or even free tickets.
Multi destination/Stopovers: Instead of booking a return from the same city, try for multi-city option to save costs. Also, direct flights are more expensive than flights with one or two stopovers.
Subscribe to alerts: Do make sure you get emailers/social media updates from some of the major airline booking websites to get discount and sale updates.
Red eye syndrome: Again, a lot of travel blogs suggest that an early morning or a late night flight can be considerably cheaper than flights at any other time.
Be thorough: Always do a comprehensive check of the visa requirements for each country as each asks for different documents.
Organise your documents: Most visa application need to be supplemented with bank statement, return tickets, accommodation bookings or a letter from the host if you are being hosted, itinerary, travel insurance and a letter of leave from your workplace.
Keep the agents out: It’s just an extra cost. There is ample amount of information on the internet and if you follow the process carefully, it’s quite easy to procure a visa.
Hostels/Hotels: With great atmosphere and opportunities to mingle with fellow travelers, hostels are the most fun places to stay in while backpacking. Websites like Hostelworld and Hostels give detailed information and user reviews. Other options are budget hotels and B&Bs. Most places offer free trivia, information, maps, guides, etc. about the city you are visiting.
Homestay: Through websites like Couchsurfing, you can get a couch to crash at a local’s place, who could also prove to be a fantastic local guide. With websites like Airbnb, you can get a local’s house for rent for short term stay.
Work and stay: For those who really like to make their holidays count can also do short term work like farming, doing a couple of shifts at a restaurant, house sitting etc. in exchange for accommodation.
QSR vs dine-in: Quick service restaurants (including global chains like Starbucks or McDonald’s and local food chains as well) definitely offer cheaper food. For restaurants, look out for brunch/dinner deals and combos which can be cheaper than ordering a-la-carte. And avoid touristy areas when you want to eat.
Make you own meal: Buy groceries from the supermarket and make your own quick meals to bring down the food cost considerably.
The culinary surprises: At any place, trying out the local cuisines has to be a must. Do check out the local specialties and weekly/monthly local food markets. Vegetarians: Plan ahead so you don’t end up wasting a lot of time hunting for food.
Be water savvy: This one is often overlooked. Do carry a reusable water bottle and refill it. Water can be really expensive, especially in Europe.
Guided tours: Most of the cities offer free tour guides which often are the best way to familiarise yourself with the city before you wander off on your own. There are niche tours too which explore historic parts or the street art of the city, etc.
Transport: Cabs are usually steep so avoid them. You can hire bicycles, scooters or just simply fall in love with the place on foot. Most major cities have an impeccable and easily navigable metro system. Make sure to find out various metro cards which can make your travel economical.
Maps: Maps might look intimidating, but they are not. Opt for attractive illustrative maps which give you not only the list of major attractions of the city but also information on the offbeat and local stuff worth checking out.
Discounted cards: If museum hopping is your thing, do look for a card that can give you entry to maximum number of museums (and other tourist spots) for a discounted price.
Budget: The best way to do shopping on a budget trip is to set aside a small budget for gifts and souvenirs right from the beginning.
Avoid touristy traps: Touristy areas offer cliché souvenirs for huge prices. So stay away from them. Explore a few places for the best prices before you begin shopping.
Flea markets: Most cities have regular local markets and flea markets which could be a treasure trove of interesting stuff to bring back home.
Cash: Usually a mix of cash and cards is recommended. In case of cash, small bills and coins are useful for petty payments and always have some cash stashed away for emergencies too.
Cards: However, do supplement your cash with a forex, debit, credit or a travel card, which give easy access to your money and are most useful for online bookings while you are on the move. ICICI bank offers a number of options including Forex, Credit Cards and Debit cards to choose from as per your travel requirement and all travel cards kit include a replacement card just in case you lose the first one.