The great thing about India is that you can travel as cheaply or as lavishly as you want. However, there are a number of ways to make your India trip even less costly. Find out how to save money with these tips.
1. Travel During the Low Season
If you travel away from the main tourist season in India, you can save a significant amount of money. You may even be able to afford to stay at that luxury hotel that was otherwise out of your budget. Some examples are hotels in Kovalam and hotels in Goa, as well as hotels in Rajasthan (check out the Fateh Prakash Palace or Shiv Niwas Palace in Udaipur). In general, the peak season runs from around October to March in India. However, it differs if you're heading to the mountains, when winter is avoidable and summer is the busiest time. Prices also skyrocket during Indian holidays such as Diwali, and Christmas and the New Year. April and September offer good deals, and you can avoid the worst of the heat and monsoon weather in India.
2. Book Flights in Advance
You may be thinking that if you wait to the last minute, you'll get a good deal for your India trip. However, this is unfortunately usually not the case. Most domestic airlines in India offer discounts for advance bookings. Not only this, the fare structure is set so that prices keep rising closer to the date you want to depart. If you book at the last minute, you'll most likely pay double compared to if you booked a month in advance.
3. Take a Midday Flight
Yes, it may be a little inconvenient to travel in the middle of the day, wasting precious sightseeing hours. However, you'll find a greater availability of cheaper flights than if you were to travel in the early morning or later in the evening. Business travelers in particular prefer early morning and late night flights, thereby bumping up demand and price.
4. Choose a Holiday Package
Combination flight and hotel deals, or holiday packages with multiple destinations and flights, offered by tour agents and online aggregator sites. Makemytrip, Yatra, Travelocity, and Cleartrip are the main sites in India that offer holiday packages bookable online. You can usually save up to 30% of the cost of booking flights and hotels separately. If you're interested in traveling aboard Karnataka's Golden Chariot luxury train, Jet Airways offers packages.
5. Take the Train
There's no doubt that Indian Railways is the best way to travel around India for the budget conscious. However, something that you might not know is that Indian Railways also offers train tour packages. Three popular ones are the Bharat Darshan (targeted at Indian travelers, many itineraries feature pilgrimage destinations), Fairy Queen, and the Mahaparinirvan Express Buddhist train.
6. Cut Down on the Cost of Meals
Eating in hotels can get expensive, so if you want to save on the cost of meals, make sure you stay in hotels that include breakfast in the room rate. These days, many hotels offer complimentary buffet breakfasts which is great for the stomach and budget!
7. Go Rural
India's big cities are becoming very expensive, particularly as far as accommodations are concerned (a decent budget hotel room will easily cost you $100 a night in Mumbai). However, if you get off the beaten path, you'll find India to be the inexpensive destination that it traditionally has been. A number of remarkable organizations operate in the rural tourism niche. These include Grass Routes Journeys (Orissa), the Blueberry Trails (outdoor adventures, mainly in Maharastra), Grassroots (eco rural tourism in Maharastra), EcoSphere Spiti, Travel Another India and The Blue Yonder.