The Scorching summer heat in the Indian Mainland makes it unbearable to live. It is in these summer months from April- June that the majority of Indian population goes on tours to Hill stations. But when it comes to a trip for respite, I do not want to spend it in a crowded sight-seeing place.
To plan my next trip in summer, I jotted down some places where a summer stay is wonderful. And you can do so just below 10,000 INR. Keep your eyes open because the next places might be your summer rendezvous. But first, you need to make your choice.
PLAN TRIP TO YOUR BUDGET
The first and foremost step to Plan a budget is to choose a destination which is near you. In this way the charges of transport reduce. For example, I planned a trip to Kodaikanal – but the travel charges were exorbitant. So, I skipped Kodai (maybe some other time, when I have money to spare), and settled for Darjeeling and Gangtok which are near to my state (Odisha). It significantly reduced my travel costs by half.
And if you want to book a/c tickets, then better go in flight because the cost is just the same.Train Ticket cost of Balangir (Boarding Station) – Coimbatore (Destination) was 635 INR (In a Sleeper class, and Rs. 1710 INR in 3A a/c. But when I changed my destination from Kodaikanal ( which is in South India, far away from my home) to East India (which is my home) my train fare is Rs. 325 INR (for Sleeper Class) and Rs. 985 INR ( for AC).
EXTRA TRAVEL CHARGES
In India, there are no direct trains to Hill stations. You have to book tickets to a nearby station and take a bus or taxi to the selected destination. Before you go, plan well and, check the followings:
1) What time does your train arrive at the destination?
2) Are there taxis, shared autos or buses available outside the station at that time?
3) What is the estimated travel cost from the station/ airport to the destination?
Planning a trip is tiresome, but the main headache of it is -booking a hotel. Just like online shopping, there is no guarantee whether the hotel you booked lives up to your expectation. After the travel costs, the accommodation charges consume the majority of your trip’s budget.
Hill stations are cold and damp. When you book, keep in mind to choose a hotel that provides room heater or extra blankets. Homestays are a better option as the hosts are warm and welcoming. They provide you what you require, and help you around to visit the place as well.
I booked a homestay (Pahari Soul) for my trip, and it offers majestic views of the Himalayas and home cooked meals too. If you want to squeeze your budget tight then go for homestays. There are beds available in almost every hill station- Vedanta Wake Up is a hotel chain which provides beds- 800-900 INR/night. But if you need luxury over comfort then I recommend you stick to pricey hotels which charge 2500- 8000 INR/night.
The best way to choose a hotel that is comfortable is to look at its location. Plan your hotel location, it should be in proximity to the sightseeing places. Pahari Soul- the homestay of my choice is near to the Taxi Stand (a two-minute walk). Whenever I want to reach a sightseeing place- Peace Pagoda or Tea Garden, the taxi stand is at an arm’s reach.
There are shared autos available in India, which turns out to be an excellent way to get around. For backpackers and budget travelers, it is the most cost effective option. Others include the Public Transport- most probably the buses. But they do not take you to your required destination but instead, a bus stop, from where you need take an auto again. So, why add to the trouble?
WHAT TO EAT
Eating at the hotel you stay is seldom a good decision. The restaurants in the hotels have an expensive menu, which makes a hole in your pocket. If you want to follow a budget plan, then I suggest you stay at a hotel which has small restaurants or street food nearby.
In this way, the Biriyani you eat costs you half the amount you paid at the Hotel. The hotel in which I stayed during my Puri Trip was impeccable, but once I flipped the menu I was like- what? Who charges a 120 INR for a masala papad. So, I decided to leave the hotel premises and hunted for some good restaurants. I came across Parijat Restaurant where I had yummilicious Hyderabadi Biriyani at a dream price of 180 INR.
After all of the primary costs of your trip gets planned or covered, move on to the other places you would want to visit. Each and every sightseeing place has an entry fee (there are many which do not have). And make a list of the places and their charges- which gives you an estimated cost. Budget Travelers better choose free things to do. But sometimes you can’t let an opportunity pass – like visiting the Nathu La. A shared cab ride costs 700 INR, which is nothing in comparison to thrill you experience.
Keep aside some money, to buy mementos in the local market. A 1000-1500 INR is enough (for a shopaholic like me). But those who are on a shoestring budget – better skip this part as this is not necessary. A memento can also be a leaf pressed in your diary or a limestone rock you take from the destination.