Travel Bugs: How to plan a value for money vacation?

Last Updated on May 19, 2023 by asoulwindow

Travel Bugs: How to plan a value for money vacation?

On my last blog on financial tips, I shared with you 10 Decisions That Helped Me Achieve My Travel Financial Goals! This time I am focusing on how to plan a value for money vacation.  This is not to be confused with saving money to travel more. This blog is instead about how to get more value for your money when you travel. Intrigued? Read on…

I saw a superb silent kathak at Kala Ghoda Arts Festival in Mumbai for free. Incredible India!
  • How different month of travel gives different experiences:

Suppose you are traveling to Mumbai (India). But you have planned it in the month of April. April is an unpleasant time to visit Mumbai. It’s hot and sweaty and there is no major festival going on. You end up spending money and deriving little value or pleasure from it. You are constantly looking for next air conditioned room. Think of visiting Mumbai in a better weather or maybe festival season. Catch the city’s infectious festive mood during the Hindu festivals Janamashtami or Ganpati Visarjan in August and September or visit during the Kala Ghoda Arts Festival in February. All these festivals are free. You spend same amount of money but you are exposed to the festivals which the city offers. And you are also spared the wrath of April humidity and heat. Similarly, it makes more sense to visit Munich (Germany) during Oktoberfest or Allahabad (India)during the Kumbh Mela. You just need to think smart and plan in advance. I always keep myself updated with festivals. For example, this year I am planning to visit Hornbill festival in Nagaland (India) in December. Being an Indian, I need to plan at least 2 months in advance.

Grafitti Street Art Hosier Lane Melbourne Australia
I researched a lot about street art of Melbourne before the trip. Australia was my first international solo trip!
  • Research well before you travel. Don’t regret later.

I always research well before I travel. Though some people preached me that ‘if you want to be called a real traveler’ (Duh, what?), you should go with a free mind and let the destination reveal itself to you. I partially agree with this much romanticized philosophy. I want to be prepared. What if the destination reveals only one side of it? What if I waste precious time, waiting for serendipity to happen! Before I travel, I want to know ‘what are the most important touristy places to see in that particular destination.’ Next I research about the offbeat and secret places in that destination. I want to see both and I am unapologetic about it. If I do not research before hand, due to the sheer lack of knowledge, I might end up skipping many places despite being so close to them. This means I am spending the same amount of money and seeing lesser places. Makes sense, eh?

Tea Garden Munnar Kerala Incredible India (4)
My parents enjoyed Kodaikanal with me. Incredible India!
  • Combine experiences while you are traveling.

When I lived in Navi Mumbai, I visited my parents every 3 or 4 months in Lucknow. Since I was working then, the week-long vacation was much valued. Sitting at home for a week or sometimes two, growing lard around my waist by eating sinfully delicious aaloo parathas lovingly cooked by my mom was much needed solace from my drab corporate life. But what if everything remains the same and I merely change the setting? So, I would book tickets for myself and my parents to experiences near Lucknow such as a tiger safari in Dudhwa National Park, Dev Deepawali in Varanasi, Mango Orchards of Malihabad or even the scenic Indo-Nepal border at Dhangadhi.

Dussehri Mango Tree Malihabad, kakori, Lucknow. India Kaleem Ullah Khan
My mother and maternal aunt. We made a quick day trip to the Mango Orchards of Malihabad. Yes, this is the magic tree with 300 varieties of different mangoes on it. It was a value for money trip. Incredible India!

At times, I would call them to Mumbai and visit nearby places such as Goa, Mahabaleshwar, and Lonavala etc. This meant I am not just vegetating at home but instead creating lifelong memories with my loved ones. I get to spend quality time with my parents while using my ‘oh-so-precious’ vacations well. Forced to attend a boring wedding in Udaipur? Make use of it by visiting the city in spare time and planning a quick getaway to the nearby Kumbhalgarh Fort which has the second longest wall in the world. Got the drift?  Many people with desk jobs will find this tip useful.

Tiger Lighetening Ranthambore fort Rajasthan India Wildlife (8)
I clicked this tiger at Ranthamore, Rajasthan . Pls see bottom of blog to read about the experience. Incredible India!
  • Compare. Compare. Compare!

Always think rationally when planning a vacation. Can you get a similar room at a lower price? Is the other website offering you a lower priced flight? Can you buy that exotic souvenir at a lower price in a less salubrious area? Are you paying too much at a restaurant with fancy ambiance but lackluster food? I was in Ladakh recently. Restaurants served similar tasting Kashmiri and Tibetan food at different prices at different restaurants. I don’t mind paying extra for a rare vegetarian dish. However, if it is run of the mill dishes like Thukpa, Thenthuk or Tingmo with curry or even Masala Dosa (Yes, it is available in Leh), I would prefer to eat at a place which costs me less. I personally always pay for the taste, not the ambiance. My travels have taught me that ambiance often costs much more even if the food is nothing to write home about! As far as lunch is concerned, I also often just eat off the street. Not only does it save me money, it also saves me time which comes with a laborious sit down meal. My dinners are more relaxed and often fancy though.

King coconut. India Sri Lanka Vegan Food
I find Sri Lanka to be the ultimate value for money destination. Pls do read my Sri Lanka blogs. Incredible India!
  • Safeguard yourself from unforeseen situations.

I wouldn’t want to be caught in the middle of an emergency in a new country. While traveling to expensive places like Australia, Dubai and Jordan, I was secretly praying in my mind that a kidney stone attack should not show up its ugly face. I am prone to kidney stones, having been hospitalized a few times for it before. Mediclaim sponsored by my office helped me back then as I was still working in corporate. However, now that I am a freelancer, I realize the importance of buying life insurance from a trustworthy brand. It is always better to safeguard yourself from paying expensive medical bills in dollars or pounds. There are so many tools available online regarding life insurance including the human life value calculator. It helps you ascertaining your Human Life Value and the Required Life Cover. At no extra cost to you, it will help you determine the protection you require. Stop procrastinating and go for it!

Turkish Al Noor Mosque Sharjah Dubai
Sharjah in UAE is expensive. You better buy insurance.

About Aegon Life

Launched in July 2008 with pan-India operations, Aegon Life Insurance Company Limited has a vision to be the most recommended new age life insurance company. As a joint venture between Aegon – world’s leading financial services and Bennett, Coleman & Company – India’s leading media house, Aegon Life Insurance adopts the power of global expertise to facilitate a direct to customer approach, leveraging digital platforms to bring transparent solutions, and to prioritize customer’s needs. Our product portfolio includes term life insurance plan, pension plans, unit-linked insurance plans (ULIPs), health insurance plans, child education plans, and more.

Australia was another expensive destination. I burnt a hole in my pocket! I shot this Kangaroo in Canberra.

Also Read:

10 Decisions That Helped Me Achieve My Travel Financial Goals!

Why I love Solo Travel – Part 2

How Travel Blogging Changes My Life

How Kala Ghoda Arts Festival made me fall in love with Incredible India

Spotting Tiger Kumbha. Just 3 feet away from me!

In search of elusive King Cobra in Agumbe

Tiger free safari in Satpura National Park

Spotting my first Wild Tiger in Bandhavgarh National Park

Top 10 reasons to visit Canberra, Australia

Amman Citadel in Jordan – A Time Warp

15 reasons why you should visit Jordan

Jordan is fun! If you have the insurance. This is Petra.

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17 thoughts on “Travel Bugs: How to plan a value for money vacation?”

  1. Some great tips about achieving affordable and enjoyable holidays. It’s always key to research and before you start planning you holiday as discussion help a lot plan them. The other great point is search and compare as you have rightly pointed out. Choosing the right month another thing. Overall a great post thanks for sharing. Amar Singh

  2. Hi I like your article coz it relates to what I always do myself. It always pays to consider all the elements listed by u before travelling so this post of yours is a must read for first time travellers. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Very useful tips! I also do research before I travel because like you said, it wouldn’t be fun skipping things when you are very close because you haven’t done your research properly.
    Many years ago I went to concerts all over the world and always made a trip out of it. That was my way of doing a combination. 🙂

  4. Some great tips about achieving affordable and enjoyable holidays. It’s always key to research and before you start planning you holiday as discussion help a lot plan them. The other great point is search and compare as you have rightly pointed out. Choosing the right month another thing. Overall a great post thanks for sharing.

  5. These are great tips to help people to get the best value for money on their trips. I’m also a massive planner and I think it has definitely helped me to see more over the years.
    Compare compare compare is so important too and can really be the difference in getting a good deal or getting ripped off. And is a good reminder to never accept the first offer you find, I don’t know what is!

  6. Excellent piece of info put together. I regularly read such articles from Drew Binsky and yours tells the exact same pointers especially how important planning is. And second your emphasis on comparing various websites!

  7. I love the note of “Compare. Compare. Compare!” I think we often get so caught up on an item or souvenir or hotel that we forget that something cheaper and equally good is just around the corner. I love the budget aspects that you’ve highlighted – especially in your research section.

  8. You’ve highlighted some fantastic points. I’m a total planner and I think it helps heaps to plan a value for money vacation. Also I agree with you that it’s important to compare compare compare because this is what will help you get the best deal. And total yes to travel insurance!!! Otherwise it could become a very expensive ordeal.

  9. Brooke (@difkindoftravel)

    Choosing when you travel is, indeed, incredibly important. Though often the ‘best’ month in a place is very busy and there are other off-season months where the weather is not too bad and you pay SO much less that it is totally worth going then. For instance, I travel a lot in October-December in Western Europe. And in California I save most of my big trips for January or February. I still have a fantastic time-the hotels cost half as much, the hiking trails aren’t as crowded, the sites don’t have as long of lines and the locals are not as annoyed (having not seen 1 million tourists already that day like they do the other 80% of the year :))

    Paying 1/2 as much but getting to see beautiful places and experience them in a different way is invaluable!

    You might have a couple of days of rain in Provence in November, but also you will spend so much less time in stopped traffic and in lines, and waiting for tables at restaurants you don’t lose anything over all. And, you get photos without a bunch of strangers in them 🙂

  10. I’ve never heard of a money vacation before but I enjoyed reading about it. I totally agree about planning ahead and making sure you have travel insurance. Sorry to hear about your kidney stones experience; that’s so painful and difficult when in a foreign country!

  11. Very good points for those who wish to make the most of their experiences of a place. However I tend to avoid traveling through crowds during festivals like Kumbh mela or Lathmaar Holi and even Ganpati visarjan because you can never guarantee when the crowd may turn unruly.

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