India is a vast and diverse country that offers countless memorable experiences for travellers. From majestic forts and palaces to serene beaches and mountain retreats, India has something for every type of travel on a budget in India. However, travelling in India can be expensive if you do not plan your budget properly. You can explore India on a tight budget with smart planning and insider tips.
Starting your India tour
India travel plan in budget may seem daunting initially, but it opens up possibilities to have unique experiences you may miss otherwise. Budget travel in India requires planning, research, and sometimes, some adventure, but it allows you to immerse yourself in local culture. Travelling frugally teaches you to live and appreciate the little joys of life. It pushes you outside your comfort zone and makes you more resilient.
India budget travel can be an incredibly rewarding experience if you follow some tips and tricks.
1. Research Extensively
The key to budget travel in India is extensive research. Here are some things to research:
- Local Transport
Conduct thorough research on location-specific transport options and costs. Local buses, commuter trains, and shared autos are the cheapest for shorter distances. For longer routes, opt for sleeper class train tickets booked in advance.
Search for budget homestays, hostels, and basic lodges instead of hotels. Check review sites for cleanliness, safety, and location.
Read about cheap street food options and local restaurants. Skip expensive hotel meals.
- Free Activities
Look for inexpensive free walking tours, parks, temples, beaches, and other attractions.
- Hidden Gems
Discover offbeat and lesser-known places that are cheaper and more authentic. Avoid overpriced tourist traps.
2. Travel During Off-Season
One of India’s most effective ways to save money is by traveling during the off-season. Every destination has peak and lean seasons. Prices shoot up around holidays and summertime. Visiting in shoulder seasons (October-November, February-March) or off-season (April-August for mountains, May-September for beaches) can cut your expenses significantly. This will let you avoid the crowds and make the best travel video that is free from crowd distrubance.
3. Use Public Transport
Using local public transport is one of the biggest India travel plan in budget. Buses, suburban trains, and metro trains provide the cheapest connectivity within cities.
For inter-city travel, opt for sleeper class train tickets or economy bus seats booked in advance. Avoid taxis and tourist coaches. Walk or use shared autos for shorter distances. Using public transport will help you travel like locals and save a bundle. Trains are the best modes of travel when you plan to visit India on a budget.
4. Carry A Water Bottle
Buy a good quality water bottle with an inbuilt filter to avoid spending on water. Tap water in India is unsafe for drinking. Carrying and refilling your water at your hotel or public filters will reduce plastic waste, too. Keep yourself hydrated without blowing your budget.
5. Eat Local Food
Indulge in delicious and super cheap Indian street food. Try out roadside dhabas and small family-run restaurants. Ask locals for food recommendations. Avoid eating at your hotel or places aimed at tourists. You can eat excellent food in India for as little as $2-3 per meal if you go where locals eat.
6. Stay in Budget Accommodation
Fancy hotels are one of the biggest expenses. Look for budget homestays through Airbnb or specialized sites like GoStays and HomeStayDiva for accommodation. Hostels are another inexpensive and social option. Search review sites before booking for safety and cleanliness.
7. Take Overnight Buses and Trains
You save a night’s accommodation cost by travelling overnight by bus or train. Opt for sleeper class train tickets or sleeper coaches in buses. Pack light snacks and use the washrooms before boarding. Overnight travel between destinations will save time and money.
8. Avoid Peak Seasons and Holidays
Ticket prices and hotel rates can double or even triple during peak holiday seasons, festivals and long weekends. Save money by India budget travel in off-peak season. Book accommodation and transport well in advance if you must travel during busy times. Early bird discounts can provide some savings. If you are visiting India with children, research the places to travel in India with children.
9. Buy a Local SIM Card
Pick up an inexpensive local prepaid SIM card on arrival so you don’t rack up huge roaming charges. Most providers like Airtel, Jio and Vodafone offer affordable data and calling plans for short-term travellers. Having internet access will also help you research and book things online.
10. Haggle Respectfully
Haggling is expected at street markets and small shops in India. Bargain politely without losing your cool. Start at 50% of the quoted price and negotiate, but don’t argue over small sums. Remember that you’re getting a good deal, and the vendor needs to make a living.
11. Split Costs By Traveling Together
Splitting costs with a companion or group is the most obvious way to travel on budget in India. Team up with friends or make new ones at hostels. Share taxis and hotel rooms. Opt for family rooms or dorms. Splitting costs lets everyone save substantially.
12. Take Free Walking Tours
Many cities offer excellent walking tours for free or token amounts. They are run on tips, so you pay as much as you want. Bangalore, Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, and more cities have tours exploring landmarks, bazaars, and hidden gems. It’s a fun way to see the city without spending much.
13. Travel Light
Pack light so you don’t pay extra for checked bags on transport and avoid porter fees. Carry a 40-litre backpack with just essentials. Bring lightweight clothes that dry quickly and can be hand-washed. Minimize footwear. Pick multipurpose travel items. Remember, less is more! Check the Indian travel checklist.
14.Couchsurf or Volunteer
Use Couchsurfing networks to find free accommodation and meet locals. You can also volunteer for free food and stay at an organic farm, school or NGO.
15. Avoid Airport Transfers
Use public transport like trains, buses or shared taxis from the airport instead of expensive private taxis and airport coaches. You can save as much as 75% this way. The airport shuttle train in Kolkata is a dirt-cheap option.
16. Drink Tap Water Where Possible
Carry a filter bottle, but drink tap water in places known to have clean water, like Shimla, Mussoorie, Darjeeling, and Ooty. You’ll save money and reduce plastic trash by doing this.
17. Buy Local Produce at Markets
Wander through fresh produce markets and buy fruit, snacks, homemade pickles, and spices for self-catering. It’s way cheaper and fresher than supermarkets. Cook your meals or munch on the go. Markets are India travel plan in budget paradise!
18. Book Trains and Hotels Early
Booking for trains, hotels, and flights will save you money by locking in the lowest prices. Last-minute bookings can be extremely expensive in India. Use renowned travel booking sites to find the best airfare and hotel deals. For trains, book on IRCTC as early as 120 days before travel. Being flexible with dates helps get cheaper rates for India travel plans in budget.
19. Pick a Homestay Over Hotels
Skip big chain hotels and stay in a family-run homestay for a local experience. Homestays are cozy, offer home-cooked food, and provide invaluable cultural immersion. Sites like Goibibo, Airbnb, Ghoomophiro and IndiaSomeday are great resources for finding rated homestays. This will save you lots over generic hotels.
20. Travel Cashless
Carrying cash can be risky, and ATMs charge fees. Instead, bring a multi-currency travel card like Axis Bank’s Vistara Forex Card. You can load many currencies on it, use it like a debit card, and save on charges. Many online and offline stores accept mobile wallet payments like PayTM, too. Go cashless when possible.
21. Visit Free Temples & Monuments
India has thousands of ancient temples, mosques, and monuments that can be explored for free or nominal entrance fees. Sites managed by the ASI (Archaeological Survey of India), like the Taj Mahal, Ajanta Caves and Fatehpur Sikri, charge minimal fees.
22. Stay in Ashrams & Monasteries
Devout travellers can consider staying in ashrams, mathas (Hindu monasteries) and Buddhist monasteries for a voluntary donation. Accommodation is basic, but the spiritual tranquillity and pristine settings are unparalleled. It’s a frugal way to experience India’s sacred traditions when you travel on a budget in India.
23. Get Tourist Entry Permits
Some states, like Himachal Pradesh, require non-resident tourists to buy entry permits. Registered travel agents issue permits, so work through them. Buying permits in bulk for longer stays can be cheaper than repeatedly paying extensions.
Start your budget travel in India
India budget travel allows you to live and focus on real experiences. Slow travel allows you to experience a place and its culture truly. Spending less means your money goes further to extend your travels. By using these tips and keeping an open mind, you can discover the incredible diversity of India, even on a shoestring budget. The key is to travel smart. Budget travel requires effort and preparation, but it will be one of the most rewarding adventures you can embark on.
So, embrace the spirit of Indian ‘jugaad’ – with some preparation and smart hacks, you can discover the incredible diversity of India even on the tightest budget. Traveling frugally will attune you to the simple joys of life and enrich your perspective forever.