Friday, 31 July 2015

Plan your travel

As a kid, I have travelled very less. My father was Ex-Navy personnel who started business later while my mother was into medical profession. Our travels were limited to the state of Maharashtra and by far most to Goa. But whenever we used to travel it would be for a visit to some relatives place or visit to some religious places. I had never experienced adventure travel or hotel stay or wildlife safaris. All I knew back then were temples, gradually as we grew and got introduced to the other fun of travel. We cousins, revolted to such travel visit. We were fed up of pilgrim places and staying at our relatives houses. We all spoke to our parents and there marked our first fun trip to Goa. We had fun eating all the sea-food, tried sports rides and of course our journey had to have a temple visit so we did that as well. However, behind all the travels we were never involved in the management or planning. Our parents used to take care each and everything, from tickets to stay to food to shopping. The most important part ‘Money management’, we kids just used to enjoy and not bother to ask as to how things are done. I am sure each one of us would have experienced this. ‘Money management’ is the most vital part of a successful travel, which is what I think one should look out for.

From past one year, I have started travelling on my own. Sometimes it would have been solo and sometime with a friend. It is pretty amazing to see things both ways, every time you experience a different thing.

When it comes to travelling, I consider doing a lot of research about the place before I visit; about safety, accommodation and food. Here is what I think is important while planning a trip:
Mode of transport: Air/ Rail or road, out of these whichever you choose it will solely depend on the distance of travel. If it’s air then it is better to look for flights two to three months prior to our travel date. Most of the airlines give out discounts during February, June and July. Tuesdays, Wednesday are cheaper than other days whether domestic or international. There are chances that your flight timing might reschedule as per airline decision. There you have leverage to cancel the flight and book another without any charge (Please look out!). If you are a frequent flyer please enroll yourself in the loyalty programs as they add brownie points to your travel.
When it comes to Railways, the booking online is a better solution while one has to keep a track of it. The booking opens 120 days prior to the date of departure. Tatkal bookings are the last option one should think of. Train journeys are better off in Second or first AC while travelling to north. South is still fine but solo traveller or lady travellers should always opt for second or first AC.
If you have a car and the distance of travel isn’t that far then by road would be a better option. One has to look into fuel parameter as well, a share in expense is a better option than travelling solo in car. If you think of car rental then each state has a different price per kilometer. It might range from Rs. 10/12/15 per kilometer plus day allowance and driver’s meal depending on the type of car you select. Some also take into account toll charges as well as parking charges. Remember the bargaining with the local travel agents is always the better; don’t just depend on your hotel to provide you with car or travel agents quote. Comparing prices is a better solution than any.
Accommodation: Hotels/ Hostels/ Couch surfing/ rental apartments, all these depend on your type of travel; whether it is for leisure or touristic or backpacker or budget travellers. Airbnb, Hostelworld, Expediacouchsurfing, etc are answer to your questions. Hostel , couchsurfing are new to me and so I guess new to many in India, but it serves the purpose if you are on a budget. Most of the places are verified by the website and if you don’t like it, you can always switch. The hotel can be booked on the day of arrival itself, but peak as well off season has to be considered first. One can bargain with hotel rate in person but not on the website while booking. Yes! One can always ask to get the rate down (only valid on off season).
Food: Restaurants/ ashram/ self-cooking; self-cooking is a better option for long trip travellers while the rest can always dine out. Food being the most vital part has to be researched well. If not then a bad meal can ruin your health in turn ruining the the complete trip. There are websites like TripAdvisor, Zomato, Burrp where one can read reviews of the restaurant. You can’t solely depend on them however one can get an idea about it.
If these major thing are planned well then there is no need to worry. The above mentioned are very relevant to long distance trip, specially the land which is unknown to you. It is always good to be adventurous however I do believe that being pro-active is always better.
Keep exploring and have a safe trip.

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