Published in IndianMutinies.com
9 ways to be a travel hack and enjoy great destinations @ great prices
Disclaimer:This one’s for those who believe in the good old funda of getting value for money, being smart and spending wisely. If a holiday for you means dashing off to the nearest airport, booking an exotic destination and returning home a few lakhs lighter, skip this. If you like to plan your things out and feel happy at having a great holiday and still getting great bargains, read on. Practical advice from a much-travelled travel freak and writer.
Ditch the long weekend: Yes, I know what I am saying. Don’t do the clichéd thing of planning a holiday on a long weekend because all those super souls like you across the world would also be planning the same thing. Chances are that you will find your neighbor and his cousin ending up at the place where you landed. Not a pretty scene, right. Let go of the long weekend. Stay at home and watch movies or hang out with friends. Soon after long weekend when there is loads of work piled up at office, sneak out on that holiday. Since the whole office is in full force, you won’t have a problem getting a few days off. This way, you avoid the work, the crowds, get the best off-peak bargains and lots more. Most resorts and hotels have offseason and long weekend special rates. Once the crowd clears, you get the same room for 30 per cent less and 50 per cent fewer people in the pool. A true holiday is one where you get the time and space to enjoy things. Not stand in queues and come out of the pool because it was too crowded.Travel Hack ditches weekend©TierrainIndia
Forget about the public/government holiday: Replace the long weekend with a public holiday in this one and you will get what I say. Indians get greedy and club one Sunday with the next Tuesday which may happen to be a government/public holiday. But really, neither the pilgrimage you want to visit not the park your kids demanded will be any pleasant. Try visiting the Qutub Minar in New Delhi on a holiday like October 2 or Dasara weekend. You won’t have space to sit at a place and pose for a pic. Ditto with the Pav Bhaji or pizza joint there. Try it out on a working day morning. It is so blissful, you can spend half hour watching the squirrels in the garden. Trust me, been there, done that.
Whether the weather matters: It does, every bit of it. In India, if you plan any south Indian non-hill station anytime between March to July, you will be barbecued alive. The trick is to have three lists and put your destinations list in those lists. One list for each season! For example, you want to go to Varanasi, plan between October to March. Avoid the monsoons as well as the river will be in spite. If you want to go to Kerala, any season is okay except peak summer – March to June. Same with Goa. In the US, some states have subzero temperatures and unless you enjoy snow, it makes sense to check the weather and go with the right tools. If you are planning Tirupati, research reveals that planning on a Tuesday morning, Bhadrapada masam, Pitrupakshalu (considered inauspicious time) is the best time to have a good darshan of Srivaru. Who cares about the day as long as you can visit your dear Lord and get an eyeful of him.! All that talk about spontaneity sounds great if you are solo and don’t have a family to take care of.
Factor in kidomania: If you’re single and without kids, essentially anything goes as you don’t have the hassle of factoring in the moods and sulks of these little people. Kids and shopping is a bad combo. Just when you’re trying out a sexy Camisole, your toddler will scream for potty. Parks, amusement rides, open air spaces that encourage running around and kid-friendly fast-food joints with ice creams, snacks are great bets. Forget about visiting an art gallery, museum, beauty salon, a crowded church or temple that has a long winding queue. Not factoring their likes and dislikes can make or mar your trip. Imagine a toddler meltdown at Costco or a Dubai Mall. It is a waste of time, source of embarrassment, not to mention feeling bad for dragging the child that far. Don’t ignore the needs and desires of the tweens. Ensure there is shopping, eating out and outdoorsy fun for them.