We often face a conundrum when planning a vacation, whether we should travel domestically or internationally. There's no denying that our country has abundant to offer and is more bountiful in its beauty than most of its neighbours. But the whole allure of international travel, right from getting the visa stamp on your passport to catching a flight, is purely intoxicating and addictive!
However, the thought of taking an international trip is a highly daunting one.
Why is that?
Well, two major deterrents to international travel are - time and money!
We always end up thinking that an international trip will cost us a whole lot more than a local one and that leads us to ration out that if we were to spend that kind of money, we might as well holiday for longer, in India.
What if we were to tell you that the above is not necessarily true? You can travel internationally on the same budget as a long vacation in India and enjoy it just as much. Here's what you need to know:
Rule number #1: Select a neighbouring country to visit.
If you choose to visit a country that’s a ten (or more) hour flight away from India, then you’ll exceed the average domestic-trip budget. But if you choose a neighbouring country like Sri Lanka, Nepal or Thailand, you'll get a return flight ticket around the same price as a domestic to and fro flight fare. For example- Chennai to Delhi and back and Chennai to Colombo and back cost roughly the same amount.
Rule number #2: Travel during the off-season.
This may require a bit of planning in terms of taking leaves from the office, but it'll be worth it when you see the cost difference between travelling during the peak holiday season and travelling during the off-season. Example - If the average flight fare from Chennai to Dubai costs INR 30,000 in peak season, you are likely to get a great flight deal at INR 15,000 during the off-season!
Also, hotels are much cheaper on account of lower occupancy and there are lesser crowds at the popular tourist spots, so you tend to enjoy the holiday sans the cues!
Word of caution - remember to factor in the reason your destination has an off-season - weather gods may not be on your side, so plan accordingly.
Rule number #3: Preplan everything to the T.
Book tickets for your planned excursions, shows and tours before you leave for your vacation. This ensures you don’t pay a premium for a last-minute booking and also are not disappointed or turned away in sold-out scenarios.
You might also want to plan your meals beforehand. For example, it always helps to book your breakfast with your hotel and ask them if they have a full lodging package available. If they do, opt for a breakfast and dinner package only instead of all three meals. This gives you the flexibility to be out and about during the day and it also works out more economical.
If your hotel doesn't have any economical meal package, you can always carry ready-to-cook meals with you (trust me, even if budgets are not an issue, sometimes your pallet just craves 'desi’ meals- at which point these are total life savers).
Rule number #4: Go to only one destination and keep the duration short.
Adding different cities to your itinerary is tempting but expensive because you have to add the transit cost from one destination to the next. Also, travelling for shorter durations requires lesser planning (in terms of office leaves) and a leaner budget- fewer days also eliminates the temptation to cover more than one destination. You would rather visit only one destination and enjoy it to the fullest.
Rule number #5: Do your bookings in advance.
This rule applies to all kinds of travel- domestic and international. Booking in advance allows you to get the best flight and hotel rates. The ideal timeframe to book an international trip is three months before the intended date to travel. Your trip can turn out nearly 20% cheaper when you book in advance. With the cost factor being proven, here’s how you can plan for the time needed to travel internationally:
Plan your leaves.
Our first recommendation would be to club your holidays together. For example, planning your trip over a long weekend coupled with a few paid leaves. However, understanding that most people would intend to travel during that time, the chances are that you won't get good flight rates. So plan to travel on a regular weekend during the off-season, and take three days off.
Consider booking a midnight flight out and an early morning flight in, so that you can make the most of your days too and not waste entire days travelling!
Do your research on the destination and prioritize your ‘must-do’s’
The phrase 'time is money' holds for holidays too! If you don't plan, you will end up wasting time planning your day, whilst on the holiday. Research the top attractions in your holiday destination and book them well in advance. Also, factor in their distance from your hotel, to just map your day out more efficiently.
Now that you're equipped with all the tips and tricks, which international country's stamp are you planning to get on your passport next?