Travelling on a budget:
Travelling is such an exciting and life-changing experience, yet the process of actually making it work can be quite daunting. The prospect of having to save enough money to accommodate your adventures can be discouraging, but ALWAYS worth the effort.
Although I love the luxury side of travel (who doesn’t?!), I also love budget travelling, as different experiences are always rewarding. Whilst on my year-long voyage in 2013, I pretty much had no choice - we were living off £20 a day for 2 of us, so I had to make it work, no matter what.
India is one of my favourite places to travel on a budget…It is by far the cheapest and easiest country to visit and travel around on a shoe string budget. On my first trip, it was slightly out of season, and while the weather wasn’t as good, it was still hot, and I got to see the REAL India. I managed to travel to Kerala, Hampi, Goa, Mumbai, Jaipur, Rajastan, Jaiselemer and all the way to the border of Nepal Gorakphur.
Accommodation: When travelling to India, booking accommodation in advance isn't always necessary. Budget accommodation can be found via websites like Agoda and Trivago, but generally you’ll be pretty sure to find a budget guest house wherever you go. If you’re travelling with a partner, then I’d always suggest dumping all of your stuff at a cafe, while one person goes to find suitable accommodation.
Here’s a handy tip for you; if you turn up to a place with bags, looking all tired and sweaty, they’re more likely to think you’re desperate to settle so won’t offer you the best price. I’ve paid as little as £3 per night for a room for 2 people, all the way up to £12 (this was a huge treat!) You’ll be wary of having no air con, but if you’re saving the pennies, I’d suggest going for a room with a fan only.
Transport: The buses in India are fairly decent, sometimes the only option with packed-out trains. You can get anything from a rickety £5 ride for an overnight train, up to £16 for a bus that has insane suspension and air-con. To be honest, these aren’t great for people who actually want to sleep, the cheaper buses feel like you’re shaking about all night and the nicer ones feel like you’re swaying from side to side the whole night…the choice is yours!
The trains are my favourite part though. If you’re confused about the classes of train, opt for the sleeper class…I paid £3 for a 18 hour train ride once!
Always try and get the top bunk as they are permanent beds and you’re at a height advantage for security too. The middle bunk folds down and the bottom one is fixed, but there are always people who want to sit, so you may never get to sleep.
Please do indulge in a cup of chai for 10 rupees every time a guy goes past, kick back and get to know the real Indians, who are often fascinated by Westerners.
Food: For me, the best part of India is the food. Beware of the naan and roti…you can pack on the pounds very quickly if you're not careful! I’d often follow recommendations from the “Lonely Planet Guide", where places mentioned are local businesses who often rely on tourism, so they are very welcoming and the food is delicious!
I can honestly say that I have never had a bad experience following the "Guide", and there are budget options too; the cheapest I got a Thali for was around 60p (1 dollar) and a standard curry with 3 roti was around the same. If you fancy a treat day, there are plenty of opportunities to spend a lot more, but In India my daily budget rarely went over £10…Perfect for the long-term traveller on a budget!