Do you PLAN your Holidays?

Indians are travelling like never before. Be it domestic holidays or sojourns in foreign locales, Indians are there.  In money management too this change is very evident. Most of the clients getting their financial plans done, want to keep a budget for travel every year. This shows the serious interest of the Indian traveller and also the growing travel expenses.

Planning for the expenses will give you a better chance to enjoy your holiday without worrying about the impact on other aspects of your financial life.

While DIY is the most customised that you can get in planning your holiday, it takes tremendous amount of effort to chalk out a plan. Depending on how diligently you plan, you can work out holidays at much cheaper rates as compared to package tours. For travel buffs the planning also is as exciting as the trip itself. But if you don’t enjoy the planning part, or do not have the time to do it, will be better off with a package tour.

In DIY you can do a mix-and match of the styles, number of days, stay options the food options to suit your requirements. There is a vast variety to choose from-eco-stays in villages to staying at castles, monasteries, farms, presidential suites and more. Choose your style, your budget and scout for the best deals. While travelling abroad staying at service apartments which have the facility to cook your own food can not only be a boon for people with special needs like vegetarians or families with small children, it can also save you big money. Buying basic groceries at local malls can work out well for preparing quick meals that suit your palate. Other options like home stays and bed-and-breakfast places also work out cheaper.

Package tours are the simplest option for very busy people. Just select your package, pay the money and you are done. It is the simplicity that is most appealing. Group tours have in-built discounts that the travel company gets for stay and travel options by doing bulk bookings. The uncertainty about local travel, availability of food etc is removed when you deal with travel companies. Many people also enjoy meeting new people who travel as a part of the group. As this is a specialised service, the service provider will have their fee and charges built in the package. Most of the times the costs are known upfront so you are able to plan better.

On the other side your freedom is restricted about where to go, when to go and how much time you can spend at a particular location. You cannot do as you please, you need to stick to the group schedule. This often causes fatigue as the travel company tries to build in lot of sight-seeing in a short period with an aim of giving more bang for your buck.

Planning for holidays has two steps. First- estimating the costs and second- setting up an investment plan to meet the target amount. The fixed costs which are known upfront are flights and stay, visa and other fees, travel insurance. Food, local travel, entrance fees to various attractions and  shopping are the expenses which are a little difficult to predict. Once an amount estimate is available you can plan by either creating an ongoing holiday fund for regular holidays or a specific fund for high end holidays. You can start the fund with your bonus and keep adding to it on a monthly basis depending on how much you intend to spend. Ultra short term bond funds are a good tool for this purpose. As they are highly liquid, offer better returns than saving account and are easy to manage. If your holiday planning is for a time period beyond 2-3 years you can look at either short or medium term debt funds.

Some simple tips can help you save money on a holiday.

  • Book in advance. You get better choices and better rates.
  • If you are a big group, negotiate rates at hotels, you will get lower rates as compared to the rack rates.
  • If you travel just outside of the peak season, you will get lower rates. Look for these peak season dates on the website of the hotels.
  • Look for deals which offer discounts for local travel like Eurail pass for travel in Europe. Some of these also have built in discounts for entrance fee to tourist attractions.
  • Bigger tourist attractions like Disneyland etc usually run discount schemes if you have multi-day pass or if you stay at one of their hotels.
  • Also look for international tie-ups if you have are a member of any time-share schemes. Some clubs too have affiliate arrangements with clubs abroad for their members. Check it if you are member of any club.
  • Be aware of currency exchange rates. Usually travel agents offer better rates than banks. The worst rates are at airport currency changers.
  • Some countries have cheaper travel rates if the booking is done locally. Get your friends and family staying in your country of destination to do local travel bookings.
  • Check for walking tours in the cities you are travelling to. Many such tours across European cities are very interesting and offer a good insight into the history, culture, cuisine and more. Some of them are complimentary.
  • Some museums and other attractions have free entry days/ hours. Check before planning your schedules if you have some particular places on your must see lists.
  • Pack light. Most airlines abroad charge for check-in luggage for domestic flights.

So plan your holidays and have a good time!