Keep calm and travel on… on a budget!

Chitwan, Nepal Photo: © Avril Ann Braganza
Chitwan, Nepal
Photo: © Avril Ann Braganza

Planning a budget trip, but you’re not sure where or how to start? Try these destinations and basic guidelines when you’re planning your next budget vacation.

Your exams are finally over and you need that well-deserved break. Your love for travel is calling to you, but as a student, you probably have a tight budget! So, how do you manage having fun and saving at the same time?

National treasures

Our country has a lot to explore and if you enjoy backpacking and camping, you’re in for a ball. You can safely plan a five-day trip for as much (or little) as Rs 7,000 to Rs 35,000 depending on the mode of travel.

Paragliding in Manali Photo: © Lloyd D’Souza
Paragliding in Manali
Photo: © Lloyd D’Souza

Starting with the North
Head to Manali, McLeodganj, Rishikesh and Ladakh for their adventure activities and pristine landscapes. “Serene Manali is the new trend for teenagers; day trips to the Rohtang Pass and Solang Valley are mind-boggling. For a bit of cultural learning, visit the Tibetan Monastery. Adventure junkies who’ve dreamed of paragliding, this is the place to give it a shot,” shares Karan Anand, Relationships Head at Cox & Kings. “McLeodganj offers exhilarating treks into the Himalayas and while you’re in Rishikesh, go whitewater rafting or plan a trip to the breathtaking Valley of Flowers. Rishikesh’s beach camps and treks also beckon the adventurer in many travellers,” says Daniel D’Souza, Head Sales, India and NRI Markets, Tour Operating, Kuoni India.

Whitewater rafting in Rishikesh
Whitewater rafting at Rishikesh
Photo: © Kern Martis

D’Souza also suggests “camping in Ladakh’s alpines or taking a ride on a bike adorned with traditional prayer flags. Don’t forget to dip your feet in Pangong, the largest lake of the Himalayas”. Neelu Singh, Director and CEO, Ezeego1, recommends trying adventure sports — trekking, river rafting, mountain climbing, cycling, camel and yak safaris, and a whole lot more, in Ladakh. She also proposes travelling to Sikkim, which has “delicious local food, exotic Himalayan wildlife, picture-postcard landscapes and some great mountain hikes”.

Camel rides in Jaisalmer
Camel rides in Jaisalmer
Photo: © Lloyd D’Souza

Home to the Thar Desert, massive forts and rich culture, Saadia Dhailey, co-founder of Caribou Drift, tells us, “You can do an eight-day Rajasthan trip in as little as Rs 12,000. The trick is to travel during off-season. There are several affordable hotel options in Jaipur, Udaipur, Jodhpur and Ajmer. While many may advise you to book hotels in advance, in Rajasthan, it’s best to do the opposite. Carry a list of the hotels on Wikitravel; visit, or call them when you reach the city/town, and ask for rooms at a better bargain. Another good way to save while you’re here is to use local transport”. From bumpy camel rides and camping in sand dunes to historical forts and palaces, Neelu adds that Jaisalmer is another perfect getaway for teenagers.

Dona Paula, Goa
What’s not to love about Goa?
Photo: © Avril Ann Braganza

On to the middle
In the Konkan, Dhailey suggests travelling to the Sindhudurg region. Clean, picturesque, and affordable, there are plenty of homestay options that provide you basic, but clean twin-sharing rooms right on the beach, for as little as Rs 400. “The beaches also make a great place to pitch tents. You can buy one for as little as Rs 3,000, or hire one for less and camp under the stars. Get in touch with a local who manages homestays. They can help you with food and access to the washroom. They’ll also help you with the right spot to camp! You wouldn’t want the high tide to take you and your camp away at night!” she says.

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Avril Ann Braganza
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Avril Ann Braganza

Avril-Ann Braganza, a feature writer and copy editor at dna, loves to travel and write about the new places she explores. When she’s not writing and thinking of ideas to write about, you’ll find her with her nose buried in a book or her eye glued to the viewfinder of her camera.