It's POSSIBLE: Dream vacation in times of a FALLEN Rupee
The butchering of the Indian Rupee need not come in the way of your dream international vacation says Anita Rao Kashi.
The falling rupee against the dollar is a despairing sight not just for businesses and the economy but also travelers who had set their sights on an international vacation. The industry is already dishing up numbers about fall in travel even as domestic destinations are being touted as alternatives, while the Southeast Asia region is gaining importance. However, there's no cause for concern if you are willing to tweak, adjust and be flexible as well as focus on what you intend to get out of the trip. Here are some suggestions to get the most out of it.
Trawl the net for cheap flights
In this age of competitive advantage, airlines are willing to go the extra mile and offer low fares. It might not be the case always, and may require constant vigil, but the end results can be gratifying.
Not just the homegrown variety but such sites as expedia.com, farecompare.com and kayak.com and hundreds of others come up with great deals.
Many a time the deal could last for a very short time or may be grabbed within a few minutes of going up so sign up on multiple sites or set reminders such that you get updates in your inbox.
And while at it, it could also be a good idea to be flexible since a great deal might just come your way at short notice or the flights might be cheaper on a certain day than the others. Or even at certain times of the day or night. Who knows?
By just moving your departure time by a few hours either way, you may end up saving significant amounts of money.
Photographs: Tom Graham/Creative Commons
Where you stay and how comfortable you are can decide a lot about your trip and your lasting image of it. But with the falling rupee, it could be a challenge.
Many travel companies are willing to honour their commitment but there are also other ways to go about it.
Downgrade from a five star to a four star or lower since the general comfort will be the same. Or better still, search for comparative accommodation options on such sites as agoda.com and booking.com. It is also a good idea to opt for B&Bs (bed and breakfast) on such sites as bedandbreakfast.com since standards are pretty high, especially across Europe.
Image: A guest is seen at the lobby of a budget hotel in the Indonesian resort island of Bali
The more adventurous, who don't mind crashing for the night at someone's home or hall, could sign up for Couchsurfing. An immensely popular concept the world over, it is a worldwide community in which you can stay with the locals for free and barter services or take care of food or not at all, on a quid pro quo basis.
There are over 6 million couchsurfers the world over across 100,000 cities and more of them are opening up their homes for potential travelers.
Sign up, post a request and check out the profiles of your hosts before making choices.
However, do not treat it like a free stay option but rather as a social network platform where travelers can meet with locals and get a better experience.
Image: Thousands of people couchsurf every day. Seen here is Rafeal Nussbaum (R) from Switzerland as poses with his couchsurfing guests Renee Miller from US, Elena Tedeschi from Italy, Stephanie Ladel and Oussama Refas from France (L-R) at his apartment in Bern in this file photo.
Photographs: Stefan Wermuth/Reuters
Buy return tickets on trains/buses
Across many countries in Europe and especially in UK it is possible to buy train and bus tickets in advance on the net for internal travel. But a bigger benefit is buying your return ticket as well since the return journey costs a small fraction of the one-way journey if bought together.
For example, on the X90 service offered by the Oxford Bus Company, a one way ticket from Oxford to London costs GBP 14 while a same day return ticket costs GBP 17 and a three-month return costs GBP 20. Similar deals and offers are available on train schedules as well including Eurostar and Renfe.
Image: A return ticket often costs only a fraction of the one-way journey if purchased together.
Photographs: Michaela Rehle/Reuters
In some European countries, carpooling is not just about ferrying kids to school or teaming up to drive to work. It's much more.
People travelling across cities with seats to spare announce their destination, route and pick up points, timings as well as number of seats they can offer in exchange for a fee, which is usually much lower than public transport.
People can sign up for a pick up and can be assured that the vehicle is usually at the designated spot at the designated time. The practice is especially popular across Germany. Websites like carpooling.com facilitate such journeys.
Image: Consider carpooling. It's cheaper and more efficient
Photographs: Robert Galbraith/Reuters
Save on and splurge sensibly
The dwindling rupee is certainly not cause for cheer but then again a frugal vacation need not be a boring one either. Agreed that a vacation is not an occasion for slumming it out, but it pays, literally, to be sensible about it.
Eating out is no doubt an expensive proposition, especially outside the country, but there are certain tricks of the trade that are worth picking up. By and large, street food is both hygienic and tasty. Another option could be cafes located inside departmental stores such as Marks & Spencer or even the ready-to-eat counters in such stores.
It is worth considering saving where it matters, and then splurge on that one fantastic meal at that gourmet restaurant that has been raved about.
Actually, choose what you want to splurge on. It could even be an award-winning play or one night at that luxury boutique hotel. And while at it, ride on the local transport instead of a taxi to that restaurant or get a taste of local street food on the way to the concert.
Once you get the hang of it, there's plenty other options that you can try out and cut corners but without having to feel like you are being stingy or miserly about it.
Image: The dollar may be stronger than ever today but a frugal vacation need not be boring either.
Photographs: Beawiharta Beawiharta/Reuters