How the heck do we travel so much ?!

How the heck do you guys travel so much?

This is the most common question that my partner Awshesh and I get asked most frequently by our friends, family, acquaintances and pretty much anyone who knows about our travel stories of have us added on Facebook.  I have heard variations of this question asked with genuine curiosity that always bring a big smile on my face–

-Did you leave your job?

-Are you on a sabbatical?

-Do you guys save at all or just living in the moment?

I thought it was high time to de-mystify frequent traveling while being a working, middle-class couple in India 🙂 !.  Traveling is for everyone, anyone with a will to see the world a little at their own pace and time. As they say, when there is a will, there is a way, just needs some organizing in the ‘way’.

I am sure that not everything on this list will apply to everyone and I know we are very fortunate in certain aspects to be able to do this. I would still like to hope that some of the following things would help some of the readers of this blog.

  1. Time – planning your travel well. We have full-time jobs.  January is a time of anticipation for me. I wait for the official holiday calendars to be published at my partner’s and my workplaces. Once it is out, I put them side by side on an Excel sheet and block out the weeks when we both have holidays (sometimes our offices have different holidays). If you have kids, this may be more complex, taking kids’ vacation schedule into account.
  2. Plan for long holidays – I also color code the weeks that have two public holidays in one calendar week or two public holidays in consecutive weeks. By taking the working days off in those weeks, we get the maximum bang for our leaves by getting a long vacation.  We also factor in the time of the year in terms of our project delivery  at work etc. and share our time off plan for the next few months at work, to plan better and assess feasibility.

Example below- take 7 days off and get a 13-day long vacation., starting on a Friday and ending on a Wednesday almost 2 weeks later.

M T W TH F Sa Su
Public holiday Weekend  Weekend
Take leave Take leave Take leave Take leave Take leave Weekend  Weekend
Take leave Take leave Public holiday
  1. Cost of travel – This is a very important factor for most people and definitely for us. Here are a few things we do to fund our travels.
  • Budgeting – We pledge to put certain percentage of our savings into the travel fund for the year. We generally always stick to the budget but have occasionally overshot by a few thousand INR. This is the budget we decide after meeting all forecast estimations of expenses for the year, saving schemes for target financial investments, charity fund pool (for donations for the year) and emergency fund pool( for family / health stuff).
  • Apportion budget to each trip. Let’s say we plan to have one international trip to a faraway country, one 10-day domestic trip and three smaller weekend travel, put cost estimates to each of them (ball park numbers based on past experience) and see what fits in the budget and what doesn’t. anything over the budget, we discard.
  • Have the right credit cards. I used to swear on never having a credit card (my father taught me that when I was a child). I still firmly believe on the motto of spend only what you have. However, there are additional benefits of credit cards that makes travel easier. For example- free lounge access to international lounges in any country on some cards like HDFC Diners club card, free Sky priority pass with Amex platinum credit card etc. Plus, the rewards points enable you to book full/ partial free flight tickets / hotels. Word of caution – to buy only what is needed and not overspend.
  • Travel in shoulder season – this is a great trick to save the peak season sky-rocketing costs while getting most of the perks of peak season. Plus, it is great to avoid peak season tourist crowd. I am not saying off-season travel when everything is dead, I am suggesting travelling just before peak season starts. Example – visit Italy in late April/ May when the spring flowers are in bloom and scenery is lovely, but the hordes of summer tourists haven’t arrived like they do in June, July, August.
  • Offers and travel related sales – We use skyscanner.co.in to find the cheapest flights. There is an option to see prices for various combinations for different days in a month which can work for people with flexible travel dates. There are also much cheaper flights for connections with long layovers. This may work out well if the layover airport is in an interesting city and you have visa to enter that country. Example- Last year we went to Rome via Amsterdam with an 8-hour layover in Amsterdam. As both Rome and Amsterdam have entry based on Schengen visa, we checked in our baggage till Rome and roamed around in Amsterdam for 4-5 hours before catching our flight from Amsterdam to Rome.
  • Traveling on a budget – I would call ourselves flash-packers. Meaning, we have never stayed in a hostel( nothing wrong with hostels) or been on shoestring budget for food/ activities but yet have been economical in all our travels. That way our INR stretches a long way and we get to travel multiple times in a year.We figured out during our numerous trips that we like spacious, apartment like living spaces, especially if we are staying for more than 2 days in a place. We often book entire apartments / private room through airbnb.co.in , www.booking.com  and cook some simple stuff from time to time, particularly in more expensive countries.
  1. Prioritize travel – This is a personal choice as I feel traveling is instrumental in broadening horizons, the way we look at the world and process our life, because life happens as much inside our head as outside. Travel is not just relaxation and away-from it-all, it is also experience and some of that is life-altering. Once we prioritize travel among other important things, we always find a way to make it happen with all our constraints  🙂

This was the rather long gist of my tips. Share yours too so that all of us can benefit from them.

Thanks,
Sayani

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