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10 Steps to Writing a Travel Budget
- Use a small, lined paper notebook or spreadsheet to write your budget. An organized, logically planned budget will keep you on track.
- Calculate the cost to get to India from your location. Keep in mind that airports across the country are serviced by various airlines sometimes offer lower rates to attract business. It may actually be cheaper to fly into a neighboring city and catch a puddle jump to your original destination than booking a direct flight.
Average airfare: $1100 – $2000 (Coach)
- Are you traveling solo, with a family, using a car & driver service, or booking a group tour? Factor in the cost of an organized package (sold through travel agencies) inclusive of hotels, transportation, and in some cases, entrance fees to major attractions. Budget travelers can locate ticket costs for trains and buses through the National websites.
- With few exceptions, all your meals will be purchased from the outside. Fortunately, India is well known to cater to budget travelers. But for those who want to savor the fine wines and tastes of spice, food costs can reach higher. Budget according to how you eat at home. You’ll probably need three meals a day and snacks for every person on your trip. Reduce expenses by carrying snacks in your luggage that are within easy reach during long car trips, plane rides, or train travel. Research meal costs on hotel websites to get a general idea of expenses in each city based on your travel level. Keep costs down by following this trusty measure: 1 person, 1 dish/ 2 person, 1 dish/ 3 person, 2 dish/ 4 person, 3 dish/ 5 person, 3 dish/ 6 person, 4 dish etc.
The average cost of meals: Rs 50 – 400 (Budget to Mid-Range for two persons, per meal)
- Sightseeing costs can quickly mount so do your homework beforehand. Most recommended travel guides provide current entrance fees as well as any camera or hidden costs. Add this to your budget under remembering to figure in small tips for things such as bathroom attendants and temple shoe keepers.
Average entry fee cost: Rs 100 – 500 (Protected sites or Indian Government-run monuments are always the most expensive)
- Hotels, hostels, B & B’s…this category is one of the easiest to stay in line. Mid-Range to Four and Five-star hotels commonly have websites with built-in reservation systems for convenient booking. But they offer a general street rate which they hope you will take. There isn’t much bargaining at luxury hotels unless you retain an agent who has connections. For Mid-Range and budget, the room rate is in your hands. Simple negotiating can get you in the door for 20, 30, 40 sometimes 50% off the advertised rate. The budget on the high end to cover any surprise costs or dead-end haggling.
Trekkers Rs 200 | Budget Rs 300 – 800 | Mid Rs 900 – 2000 | Luxury Rs 2000 and up
- Factor in tips & gratuity. Although not common among locals, unknowing tourists over the years have set a standard of minimum 10% tipping for services. Foreigners are most often met with an outstretched hand for luggage handling, bathroom attendants, or an entry fee to use a bathroom, waiters, shoe watchers at temples, and various monuments…the list can get exhaustive.
- Shopping in India is a must. Merchants in every village, town, and city will be beckoning you to come to see their shop, just have a look. And don’t think you won’t be tempted at some point along your travels. Include a slush fund for these purchases. This will keep you on track during those weak moments.
- Estimate any other charges, fees, or extra services that will require money. Internet cafe’s/services, postal stamps, ATMwithdrawal fees, temple donations, medical expenses, etc.
- Review all categories ensuring figures used are realistic based on research and/or information from knowledgeable sources. Add up all the totals for your travel budget. Too much? Trim fat where possible or make notes next to questionable items (I.E. room costs) that may be lower in person after some negotiation. Sticking to your budget will reduce travel stress, unwanted bills when you return home, and keep you from running short well before the end of your trip.