India is a fantastic destination that also happens to be among the best for frugal travelers. With just a little planning, it’s possible to save money on everything from accommodations to food, all while taking in some truly unforgettable sights. Here are 10 India frugal travel tips to help you make your money go further.
India Frugal Travel Tips
1. Take the Train
India’s cities are far from one another, making overland travel a necessity unless you plan to stay at a single location. There’s a very inexpensive solution that also adds fun to your trip: Rail travel. Try taking a sleeper car and you’ll double your savings by avoiding the cost of accommodations for the night.
2. Try Out a Beach Bungalow
It’s expensive to stay right on the beach in many places. In India though, it’s possible to stay in a basic beach bungalow for about $10 USD per night.
3. Don’t Overspend on Communications
You might think it costs a lot to place international calls, and that’s true when you use traditional methods. Instead of using your cell provider’s roaming capacities or buying a calling card, use Viber Out to call India and place calls to other destinations once you’re in country. This service lets you use your mobile, tablet, or laptop to call landline and cellular phones alike, all for pennies per minute. It costs nothing to place calls to others who use the free Viber Out app.
4. Watch Out for Scammers
Spend a little time reading travel blogs and you’ll soon discover that scams are common at many international destinations including India. Travel scams include fake agents overcharging for tickets, men posing as gurus and offering to sell blessings at exorbitant rates, and jewelry scams in which locals attempt to convince tourists to take gemstones overseas in exchange for a cut of the profits. Educate yourself about common scams so that you know what to watch for and how to avoid costly pitfalls.
5. Eat Lots of Indian Food
Avoid expensive western fare, and treat yourself to local Indian cuisine, which is abundant as well as expensive. You can get a great meal for as little as one dollar in some places, saving money for more expensive pursuits such as a tour of the Taj Mahal.
6. Try Staying at Hostels or B&Bs
While it is completely possible to find a decent hotel room for less than $50, you’ll pay even less for a nice bed and breakfast or hostel. Depending on your destination, you can find a great place to stay for under $10. Check in with a site like Hostelworld to view options and read what others have to say about the quality of their stay.
7. Remember to Negotiate Prices
You might not be familiar with the practice of haggling, but it’s a good idea to learn how to bargain as part of planning for frugal India travel. Negotiating is expected, and it’s a necessary part of purchasing just about everything you’ll find in the marketplaces. You can even haggle for the cost of a hotel stay, so long as you didn’t pay in advance. A few haggling tips:
- Merchants usually quote at least double the price they really expect you to pay.
- Many merchants use emotional manipulation as a tool, often attempting to make potential customers feel guilty if they say they don’t want to make a purchase.
- Walk away, and you’ll probably hear a far lower price – one that you can accept and pay if you feel it’s appropriate.
Do some research on the fine art of haggling and consider practicing your bargaining skills before you leave.
8. Check Out the Free Attractions
While some sites do charge entrance fees, many attractions are free. Research sites that you’re interested in seeing, and determine how to fit them into your budget. If many of the attractions you want to visit are free, then those that charge admission will feel like less of a squeeze.
9. Compare Airfare Prices
Airfare is one of the largest costs you’ll incur during your trip to India, so be sure that you spend plenty of time comparing prices and determining when best to travel as well as which airline to use. Shopping and traveling mid-week, buying tickets months in advance, and taking red-eye flights are a few tactics to try.
10. Try Backpacking
Backpacking is a great way to save money on travel through India; it’s often possible to camp at a campground. Also, there are many tours that cater to people who want to take naturally rustic approach to traveling in India.
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