How to plan and manage your vacation spending

Anil Rego


Rasika Patel decided to fly her family including her parents to an international holiday trip. The sole earning member in the family and a single mother, Rasika's priority was to let her family have a lot of fun on a limited budget. Her friend Tasneem had written a detailed mail to her last year on her holiday planning experiences and learnings. Rasika decided that it was time for her to revisit the mail and apply the same in her case. For Rasika, it boiled down to planning the work and then working the plan. Here is what the vacation spending tips included:

Take 1: Choose your holiday destination based on the economic scenario there

This may sound a little complex, but actually is quite simple. At the peak of the Asia crisis in 1998, holidays in some Asian countries were cheaper than a domestic Indian holiday. Last year, one could easily tour Greece at a very low budget as the country was in the midst of a financial crisis. Such countries are desperate to get foreign tourists to boost their economies. Also, their currencies would have weakened and so you can get more value for your money. Take the case of Europe, which is one of the most aesthetic and beautiful holiday destinations. Instead of going to Western Europe, you can have an equally fulfilling holiday in Eastern Europe at a substantially lower cost.

Take 2: Compare and strike hard bargains on hotels and flights

Thanks to the Internet, you can get real bargains on hotels and flights. A few pointers here! Prefer odd hour flights, they come much cheaper although they may leave you a little red eyed. Try lesser known airlines with a journey break as most such airlines will be too happy to give you a single day complimentary stay in a new country, which is not in your itinerary. If you are going in a larger group, then it may make sense to rent an apartment rather than booking multiple hotel rooms. There are sites like AirBnB, which will allow you to book apartments or even part-homes in various countries at a deep discount. Don't splurge too much on hotels because as a tourist you are only going to get back to your room for a good night's sleep.

Take 3: Organize your documents, cash and collaterals

This is, perhaps, the most important part of your vacation planning. Your passport, visa, travel vouchers, hotel acknowledgments need to be safe and secure and also easily accessible. Obviously, Rasika will have to take the responsibility in this case. Ensure that a scanned copy of all these documents is kept with you. This can be a back-up in case you misplace any of your documents during your travel.

Take 4: Plan your cash requirements for the trip and travel insurance

Buying travel insurance takes just a few minutes and can be managed online. Remember, medical costs are quite steep in most countries and will leave a deep hole in your pocket. Ensure that you have adequate medical cover before setting off. The next question is how much cash to carry When you are travelling try to use a travel card, which can be pre-loaded from India itself. You can also use your international debit and credit cards but they entail a huge service charge for each transaction. Limit currency usage and try to keep them in dollars to the extent possible.

Take 5: When you are uploading Selfies, let your phone bill not hit you

Let us face it; your holiday is incomplete if you do not upload Selfies of you holding the top of the Leaning Tower of Pisa or holding the Eiffel Tower on your palm. You have to be sure that you do not run up huge phone bills in your enthusiasm to share your Selfies on Facebook and Instagram. Firstly, before leaving India get an international calling card. Use the phone only in an emergency. Avoid using your Indian mobile phone on international roaming. The bills could just be humongous. More importantly, always use your hotel Wi-Fi for all your internet activities. It is cheaper, faster and more efficient than using your SIM card.

Take 6: Holiday yourself versus group holidays

This is an interesting debate and there are no straightforward answers. Typically, reputed group holiday packages by the likes of Thomas Cook and SOTC are extremely productive if you are covering multiple countries in a short span of time. But if you are just planning to visit one country for a holiday, then it makes sense for you to do your flight and hotel bookings yourself. Once you reach the destination, your hotel will arrange all your local tours and sightseeing and also advise you on the best places to visit. Of course, a local tour guide is an added advantage if you really want to understand the places you are visiting fully.

Take 7: When on holiday, check out for deals and discounts

Don't just walk into the nearest store and buy your regular requirements. In most countries, large malls and shopping centres offer a variety of discounts like Christmas discounts, Winter Discounts, late shopping discounts etc. When you are going to spend a few days on your vacation, these small discounts and offers can add up to quite a bit. Most countries have very evolved public transport services which you can conveniently use to move around. You can also opt for share-cabs to reduce your local travelling cost.

Take 8: Buying gifts and mementoes for your folks back in India

No holiday trip is complete unless you take back some memories for your relatives. Be selective in the gifts you buy. When you are travelling in Europe, avoid buying clothes as they are very expensive. It is much cheaper to buy textiles from South East Asia. Buy mementoes with a local flavour for families. That will enable you to spend more on each family and get a more valuable deal for them. Also, it will stay with them much longer compared to candies or T-shirts.