A new year is here. And we are already looking forward to the long weekends in the coming year and making travel plans. Plus all of us want to make one, two, three or more big trips a year depending on our job and number of leaves we have. While everything you plan may not work out or there may be a few unplanned trips thrown in, it always helps if you have these four Bs in place.
- Big trips: Here we mean trips which take more than 5 days and which cannot be fitted into an extended weekend. You may of course add holidays to an extended weekend or use some of your casual / paid leaves. It is good to have an idea of the number of such trips you would want to do in 2107. Once you have some sort of an idea, you would know the times of the year those are possible. So a trek in Himachal can happen only in March/ April, a trip to Ladakh in May/ June (if you are looking at the traditional tourist season) and a trip to the Rann of Kutch needs to be planned in winter. You may want to avoid Europe in the winter months and would rather plan something in a warmer destination like Thailand. This will give you an idea of what trip needs to be done when depending on how many trips you want to or can fit in. Mark those days in your calendar. This is the first step.
- Bookings: Having your trips marked out helps because you can do the bookings well in advance. Train tickets can be booked 4 months in advance and flight tickets well before that. One can save a lot in flight tickets if one keeps track of the flash sales offered by airlines and books tickets at discounted prices. Some of these tickets may not be refundable, but if you have your plans in place and the discounts are big, it makes sense to take the risk. Similarly, if you are visiting a place during the peak season, booking the accommodation early is the key. Knowing dates well in advance also helps you scout for the best packages and the best deals.
- Budget: This, we all know is the key. While some of your weekend trips can happen out of your current income, big trips, especially the ones abroad will cost you a lot of money and you would not want to break your savings. Worst mistakes you can do, as we have seen (read http://www.moneyfoodtravel.com/3-financial-mistakes-to-avoid-when-funding-your-holiday) can be to use your credit card or a personal loan to fund such trips, which would eventually put you under a lot of financial stress. The only way out of this is to plan in advance. So let us assume that trip to Thailand in August will cost you Rs 60,000. Can you save up at least a portion of that money by putting away some savings every month? You would need to put that money in a savings account or in a recurring deposit , as you cannot invest it, but putting it away would mean that you can plan your trip without straining you finances. If you have already been saving up for a major trip abroad, that is great news, you just need to carry on. While saving the entire trip’s budget is ideal , it helps even if you have saved up a portion of the entire trip’s budget. If travel is your priority, it means that you will not be spending that money in splurging on something that you do not really want.
- Buddies: This one is not for those into solo trips, but the most of us who plan trips with friends and families. It is good to have a fair idea of who will come with you if you are planning some major trip. For example, if you are planning a trip to Ladakh with some friends, you would need at least 4-6 people to make the trip cost- effective. Ask around and find out who all are interested , and discuss a tentative plan with them. Even if you do not have friends who can join you, you can always find like minded people on social networks and travel foryms and form a group. Some people will show interest, some are likely to pull out or join in later, but this get the ball rolling. If you have found out a likely group of people who want to join you on a trip, create a Whatsapp group and get a conversation going where you can discuss, dates, plans , expenses and itineraries . This will also help keep other people in the loop and they would also need to plan their holidays and finances. A word of caution, every such trip you plan may not work out the way you want them to, but planning for something increases the chances of it working out in the first place.
2017 is surely going to bring a lot of fun and happiness. Planning your holidays in advance would mean that you make the most of next year.