How I save for my travel by Shrinidhi Hande
First in the series of guest posts celebrating 10 years of payaniga is by Shrinidhi Hande. He has been blogging since 2006 and blogs at www.enidhi.net, mostly on travel, automobile and lifestyle. Shrinidhi pursues a full-time job with a leading IT company and pursues blogging as a serious hobby, besides enjoying reading, long drives and chess. Shrinidhi has visited 17 countries so far and counting and is recognized as a leading travel and auto blogger in India.
I am just another IT professional and have a modest income at par with most of my peers. Over past 10 years, I have been able to indulge occasionally in things I love doing – exploring new destinations, adventure sports, driving premium cars and so on. While some think I have unlimited supply of funds, others thing I am not saving anything for future. If you always wanted to travel, but are limited by the thought that you don’t have enough money, this post might help a bit. I am sharing insights from my lifestyle that allows me to occasionally indulge in bigger expenses.
Not buying a car: I am into my job for more than 10 years now but have resisted my temptation to buy a car. Most of my peers already own a car and I could have bought one too any moment against loan. But I feel owning a car is waste of money. If you buy a 10 lakh car, you will have a monthly cash outgo of about Rs 20000-25000 (About 15000+ in EMI, 3000 Rs annual insurance amount prorated, toll, fuel, parking, maintenance expenses etc.). Not to mention depreciation cost. I have been able to save this huge cash outgo which I am at liberty to spend elsewhere at will. Occasionally I rent luxury cars on need basis, so that if I need a car for few days, I can rent one. Yes, there are occasions when I felt I should have bought a car – like when it rains or when it is too hot etc, but overall, I feel the trade-off has been worth it. There will be some point in life where you will be forced to buy a car because of various reasons, but till that point, I suggest avoid this big expense and spend the savings on various experiences.
Plan myself instead of booking packages: From my experience, I realize that planning a trip on our own gives us lots of cost advantage, flexibility and better understanding of destination. Booking a package through travel portals is convenient, but is often expensive and doesn’t cover lots of critical experiences/expenses. So I try to book my flight, hotel on my own directly on respective airline/hotel websites, plan my site seeing using public transportation, optimize my itinerary to make full use of transit times, early morning/late evening hours etc. This has definitely allowed me to explore a destination better at lesser cost. Yes, there will be some mistakes and disappointments when you overlook certain things or few things don’t happen as per plan, but overall, it was always worth it.
Promo sales and deals: I keep a close watch on airline websites, mainly Air Asia, Spicejet for their sale. I have made a note of what destinations I would like to visit and what are the standard ticket prices to that destination. If I see any sale offering tickets 30-40% cheaper than normal rate, I book instantly. This carries a risk sometimes – if I can’t travel, I might lose big time, as tickets sold in promo come with more restrictions than normal tickets. Somehow so far this has worked for me – managed an Australia visit at a ticket 30% cheaper than full service airline and have few more trips lined up. Staying alert for cheaper deals and being able to plan long-term will help a lot in realizing your dreams.
Avoid airport shopping: Forex conversion at airports is usually a rip off. Anything else you buy at airports is also pretty expensive. So plan well – do your currency conversion at your home city, eat enough food before heading to airport, carry an empty bottle so that you can fill up drinking water instead of having to buy one, carrying some food in your bag etc will save you lots of money on each trip.
Everyday savings: Apart from my occasional travels, I lead a very simple every-day life. I use public transportation instead of taxi, book sleeper class instead of AC, avoid eating out unless absolutely necessary, give up various luxuries like avoidable shopping – these tiny savings add up to few thousands every month. If you inspect your lifestyle, you might be able to identify expenses which can be avoided and used for travel instead.
You only live once: Treat yourself first: Like rest of Indian middle class, I am also encouraged to save a large part of my earning for future. But I don’t see a point in losing my today in anticipation that 20 years later I can have a better life. When I spent 30K on skydiving, everyone said that was lot of money wasted, when I spent about 70k on an Australia trip, many felt I should have saved that amount. But then, we need to remember a few things First, what costs 30k today will cost 50k 20 years from now, factoring inflation and other things. So it might be better to give-in and fulfill some of the items on your bucket list right away, instead of hoping to do it sometime in future. Second, some activities like travel need to do be done when one is young and healthy. More you grow older, more complex the travel will be, so when you have the energy and ability, indulge in things you always wanted to do, even if it means a bit of compromise on future financial security. Whatever I managed to save in above steps, I usually spend it on things I love – a luxury car rental or an adventure sports or a flight ticket to new destination and so on. Yes, some savings is required, but then you be the judge – we are not just born to work-earn-retire-die. (Just think about it, Did Vijay Mallya think I will first repay all the loans, make savings for myself and my family and then I will enjoy my life? Treat yourself first and be happy. Only then you can spread happiness to others and the family.
Mixing business and leisure: Thankfully my job gave me a bit of occasional travel opportunities, into which I could add some personal travel in my free time (like weekends) and explore more places. Many of us only think of relaxing or sleeping all through the weekend – keep your eyes open for possible exploration/travel opportunities. Occasional FAM (sponsored trips) give me additional opportunities but such trips have been very few.
Cover photo by Nikki Buitendijk