Chasing travel dreams on weekends,Work on weekdays

By Manju Latha Kalanidhi| Express News Service | Published: 12th March 2019 09:08 AM

HYDERABAD : I plan work, vacation around Thursday, Friday

In 2018, how many places did you manage to travel? How many on work (therefore sponsored) and how many on your own, and self funded? If self-funded, how much would you have spent on travel, stay, food sightseeing etc? Ladakh, Goa, Dubai, Nepal, MP, Mumbai and Bengaluru. The last two on work. I always plan Thursday and Friday for the work travel or around weekend and stay  two more days on weekend to explore around. Madhya Pradesh is my hometown and I visit once a year, but as I love travelling, I make sure that I get to see new places around in my home state.

If I have to suggest, I would first recommend people to negotiate longer vacation. And to never limit your travel to just sightseeing and visiting famous places, I recommend getting yours hands dirty and doing some kind of volunteering. For instance, I  taught English in Nepal to underprivileged kids.

Till now most of my trips were my own and self funded. My budgeting depends on places, I generally avoid  touristy forts, gardens or museum which require entry tickets and attract the crowds. I would rather explore the nearby villages and talk to locals to understand the real culture. Social media is a good source to find people who would suggest you to explore the best.

What is your style of planning a destination? Is it impulsive or well planned? When and how much do you plan?
It’s both planned and impulsive too. Some of my trips are planned well, five months before specially the international trips. I keep checking airfare on a regular basis and I always end up saving a lot of money. I've been to South Africa as I love animals and nature. My Indian trips are not planned much before, those depends on opportunity and weather.

I prefer going to mountains in winter, it's cheap and less touristy. I go through websites like Helpx,  Idealish.org which is a good platform for volunteering work of your interest and getting free accommodation and food. I also depend on local travel agents or through local friends, who can guide me to explore more culture and places around. Recently, I went to Dubai with my friend from London. As she got some business opportunity there, I also travelled at the same time and assisted her and got free accommodation which was quiet a luxury for me. 

Three travel tips for good deal?
I keep checking airfare and bus fare on a regular basis, which helps me save a lot of money. Being a solo traveller, I always  have  the liberty to travel places in off-season which  results in huge discounts and cheap tariffs. 

Advice for first time solo travellers?
Make sure that you’re perfectly happy going solo because there will be days when your book or your daydreams will be your only company. Don’t over think it, you’ll be fine.I love to spend time with children. I run an NGO named Touch A Life Foundation. So I keep a tab of other NGOs around the world. I connect and visit them. I love to spend time with them and teach them. In my free time and durig the weekends they take me sightseeing. This way I get to travel to a lot of new places. It's always good to  work for a non-profit while you’re on vacation.

Yes, it sounds a bit like work when you’re supposed to relax, but the benefits include a considerably lower price tag, tax write-offs, and the nice feeling of helping others out. (I know because I’ve done it.) Plus, you can still enjoy the relaxing elements of an actual vacation. Strike a conversation with the driver and locals to enjoy the local culture.

Keep an eye on last minute deals

In 2018 I travelled to 12 domestic and seven international destinations. I took 50-plus flights in 2018 alone. Two were sponsored international trips.

What is your style of planning a destination? Is it impulsive or well planned?
I’m an odd combination of a bit of an impulsive & a bit of well-planned traveler. Sometimes it pays to plan ahead. But at times, I’ve found that when a really good opportunity comes along you need to be flexible enough to jump on it. It’s the key to memorable and life changing travel experiences.

Give me an idea of how much planning goes into it? When do you start planning?
The first step is deciding where you would like to go and when. When planning at least six months ahead, I have had better chances of getting the visas, cheap flights, hotel reservations and other special activities that I was looking for. This doesn’t mean last-minute planning doesn’t have its benefits. I’ve had great deals at the last minute for flight tickets as cheap as `999 from KL to Singapore and a luxury hotel booking for as low as `3,500 per night.

my guide to a vacation :
1. Determine where you want to travel
2. Determine budgets and time
3. Create brief itinerary.
4. Get your documents in place.
5. Look for Flight Deals
5. Look for hotel deals
6. Look for Things to do.
7. Tackle last minute logistics
8. Consider Travel Insurance
9. Pack
apps you use?
SkyScanner, Momondo, Airbnb, luxuryescapes, booking.com
Three travel tips?
Go on free walking tours: Scout for some good locations. Get purposefully lost in a new country. Always get behind business travelers when in security lines. They travel light, are always in a rush and they move fast.

I use government’s UDAN scheme to fly for less

Guwahati, Shillong, Mysuru, Chennai and Mahabalipuram, Puducherry and Auroville, Amaravati, Nanded and Parli, Goa, Jodhpur, Bikaner, Delhi, Jhansi, Orchha, Dehradun and the road trip from Missouri to Chamba and Tehri. All of them are personal trips, sharing moments with co-travellers, friends and family playing hosts a few times.

What is your style of planning a destination? Is it impulsive or well planned?
I am a history and architecture  buff and I have a fair idea about the places that I like to see. It starts way back when I had mentally made a note of visiting these places right from my college days. It was only natural to read about these places on what to see, how to reach, its historical and cultural significance. As a Hindu pilgrim, I enjoy the serenity of religious places which I believe have kept the ancient traditions alive to date over several centuries of their existence.

Which I find very enchanting. - I definitely plan my trip. I think it is rather meticulous. I know just what I wish to see, eat and organise my time and schedule accordingly. Generally, I travel during the offseason to avoid crowds and get amazing deals on flight tickets and cheap hotels.For hotels, I find Agoda.com an app which gives me upto 50 percent discount on luxury properties. I stick to one mobile app which gives you e-cash as benefits that you can utilize for every booking you make. 

It is not very much, but even a waiver of just convenience fee is good also. Some of the wallets do give cash back, which is also beneficial. I recently got lucky using my standard chartered bank debit card which gave me `1,000 cash back. (It takes two weeks for it to reflect in your account)
I also use UDAN 'Ude Desh ka Aam Naagrik' scheme.  UDAN is a regional airport development and & Regional Connectivity Scheme (RCS) of the Government of India, with the objective of letting the common citizen of the country fly. The flights I took from Indore to Jodhpur, Bikaner to Delhi and Kanpur to Mumbai were possible because of commencement of operations by the private carriers. These industry-first  routes did help in promoting travel for people like me. I have found keeping an eye on such deals helps you travel more and for a good deal.

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