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How to make customised travelling cheaper

Last updated on: December 1, 2010 14:21 IST

How to make customised travelling cheaper

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Tinesh Bhasin in Mumbai

Planning for a vacation is usually a trade-off between cost and independence. A group package is cheap as the cost is shared, but you may need to stick to a pre-decided itinerary.

On the other hand, customised travel requires individual bookings, which escalates the cost but gives you the freedom of spending time at places you like.

Architect Mahindra Chawla says, "I don't prefer theme parks that every country has. In a group package, an entire day is dedicated to such places." Chawla prefers to mingle with the local people of the country he visits and get acquainted with the country's culture.

This freedom, however, comes at an extra cost. The cost difference between group and customised travel packages widens for an international tour.

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"Opting for individual accommodation, carrier and itinerary will cost you 40-45 per cent more if you travel to Europe or the US," says Sabina Chopra, co-founder, Yatra.com.

For travel to Southeast Asian countries such as Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong and Thailand, the difference is 10-25 per cent. If you take a domestic trip, the cost difference is hardly 5-10 per cent.

For example, if you book a Singapore group tour with Yatra.com, the cost for each person comes to Rs 29,000.

If you take the same package individually, it will cost you Rs 31,000 (without the visa). Add another Rs 1,500-2,000 for visa, depending on your travel operator.

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Cutting down costs:

Group travellers get discounts at almost every stage. While airlines give up to 15 per cent discount on bulk bookings, discounts by hotels can be 30-40 per cent.

The cost of transport while visiting places also increases your expenses. "The cost of sightseeing is reduced, as a group usually travels in coaches. If you go on your own, you may hire a taxi, which may become expensive," says Karan Anand, head-relationships and supplier management, Cox and Kings.

Customised travel suits travellers who want privacy, are adventurous and choosy about the itinerary, and don't have set food preferences. These travellers don't mind extra paperwork, and even a language barrier.

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Bagging further discounts:

Snehalata Harkare got a further discount when she booked her group tour to Europe months in advance. Most operators are willing to give discounts during the initial days of booking.

At present, Kesari Tours has opened bookings for its European group tours which will take off in March, April and May next year. Those who book now will get the Rs 2 lakh package on a 15 per cent, that is, Rs 30,000 discount.

"The discount will keep decreasing, as we get closer to the date. We need to close bookings a month prior to the departure for visas approvals," says Veena Patil, managing director, Kesari Tours.

Advance booking also works with customised tours. Chawla, who plans to travel to Malaysia next year, paid only Rs 4,000 for return tickets in a low-cost airline as he booked four months in advance.

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"If a person is travelling to more than one region or country, he/she can save by planning the route well," says Chopra.

Say, a person starting from Delhi plans to visit three European countries. He gets his return tickets done from Delhi to London. To save on his/her expense, he/she can take the return flight from the last destination back to India.

This will save the cost of travelling back to London. Else he/she can also route the trip in a circular manner, so that it ends in London.

There could be further cost cutting by taking public transport or coach buses and opting for a two-star hotel rather than a four-star one, suggests Anand.

Going for budget hotel can be a big cost saver. In the above mentioned example on travelling to Singapore, the company provides accommodation at a 3 Star hotel on twin sharing basis that costs Rs 22,000 for four days. If you opt for a budget hotel, you need to spend Rs 14,800.

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