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Old 19th July 2018, 20:28   #1
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Frugal holidaying tips: What are yours?

The other day, a friend of mine was complaining about increasing holiday expenses. His typical holiday looks like this -

- Family of four (2 adults, 2 kids), stays in Hyderabad.
- Always flies to holiday destinations. At Rs. 3,000 per ticket, flight tickets cost Rs. 24,000
- Stays in nice resorts (Rs. 6,000 to Rs. 10,000 per night). Assuming 3 night stay, accommodation costs Rs. 24,000
- Add taxi charges (airport pick up/drop, travel within holiday destination) Rs. 8,000
- Other miscellaneous expenses (Eg: food, tips): Rs. 4,000

So a typical extended weekend holiday with family costs him around Rs. 60,000. Week-long holidays (during summer) costs him a lot more. But personally, my holiday expenses per trip have always been relatively low. These are my "budget holiday" tips :


I almost always drive to the destination in my own car. Even if it is a petrol car, a 1500 km trip costs just Rs. 8,000 for a family of 4. Zoomcar too is comparatively expensive.

Frugal holidaying tips: What are yours?-dsc00243.jpg


- Not suitable for those who are short on time.
- Accident risk
- Increased wear & tear on the car


I use a "travel" credit card called Citibank Premiermiles. Instead of redeeming reward points against shopping vouchers, I use it for flight tickets or hotel bookings.

Frugal holidaying tips: What are yours?-citipm1.jpg

I try to use this credit card for 80 to 90% of our family's annual expenses (I have an add-on card for my wife too). Even school fees are paid using credit card. Thanks to accumulating reward points, my hotel/resort stay expenses are very low. Premiermiles card's reward points can be redeemed at (which is linked to

Even if you have a credit card from some other bank, see if they have a tie-up with You can then redeem the reward points at


None. However, you might not be able to rack up enough expenses on the credit card for free hotel stay or flight tickets. But you can always use a mix of (reward points + money) to make bookings.


Personally, I don't like to spend too much money on holiday accommodation. I look for accommodation in the region of Rs. 2,000 to Rs. 4,000 per night. Because -

1) Expensive resort stay is just a short term "experience", not something you bring home. It is not something you get to keep. In comparison, buying an iPhone 8 or an expensive car makes total sense to me. Because it is something you can touch and feel. It is something that you will use every single day.

2) We usually leave the resort after breakfast and come back to the resort after dinner. What we basically look for is clean accommodation. Paying lot of cash for resort stay does not seem like value for money for our type of holidaying.

Frugal holidaying tips: What are yours?-dsc03421.jpg


- Well, the accommodation will not be 100% perfect like expensive resorts.
- Not suitable for those who prefer to spend a lot of time at the resort.

So Gentlemen, what are your budget holiday tips? Any tips on getting awesome accommodation at low prices? Any tips on how to snag low priced flight tickets? Any frugal international vacation tips?

Last edited by SmartCat : 19th July 2018 at 23:16.
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Old 19th July 2018, 23:23   #2
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Re: Frugal holidaying tips: What are yours?

Thread moved out from the Assembly Line. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 20th July 2018, 07:30   #3
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Re: Frugal holidaying tips: What are yours?

A good perspective.

The choice of spending for a holiday is all about what one expects out of a holiday. Yes your point is valid; we don't take back much; but a short term experience. But on hindsight we do like to take that memory out of that "short-term" experience. I am not saying spend a huge amount, but the fact of spending it right.

Also at some point in time, we come to look at a vacation where driving just wont help simply because family would love to enjoy a train ride or that long distance holiday, where drive is just not possible (or would end up being more expensive than a public transport).

So to summarize, I do believe in frugal holidaying. Its mainly for those who are frequent weekend travelers. For once in a blue moon traveler he would as well like to splurge for the experience?

But if budget is a constraint, innovations for frugality will anyway get in line to make that holiday happen!

Sorry if I derailed the intent of this thread. To come back to your point: I would pay more if I were planning to enjoy and spend more time at the resort. If the idea is to just spend the night, then I would think twice.

Last edited by ampere : 20th July 2018 at 08:33.
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Old 20th July 2018, 09:06   #4
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Re: Frugal holidaying tips: What are yours?

Try to avoid holidaying during long weekends or holiday season. Every touristy place would be crowded and very expensive. I would rather take off from work and plan a peaceful and less expensive holiday .

I too have redeemed credit card reward points for hotel stays.

Look out for complimentary breakfast option along with the stay, this can bring down the food expense by a bit. Many hotels have a decent buffet spread for breakfast.

Home stays have an option of meals included in their pricing. In this case, I prefer opting for breakfast and dinner so that I can explore the local cuisine for lunch.
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Old 20th July 2018, 10:05   #5
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Re: Frugal holidaying tips: What are yours?

Subscribe to MakeMyTrip newsletters if you are big on travel. They'll send you some insane deals that you won't see anywhere else. Also, I have seen first-hand that they can show different rates to logged in & logged out folk and on their app vs website.

I recently got a 5-star hotel for 5.2k that had a regular room rate of 12k . The lowest rate for this hotel on any website was 8k.

If you are looking at a week long stay at a single destination, check if they have a Club Mahindra property. If yes, talk to a local travel agent about 'buying a week' from an existing member. Many Club Mahindra members sell their excess weeks which they aren't going to use (through agents). Think of Club Mahindra Varca Beach (Goa) for just 10 - 13k in total. It's a very nice resort - for 1.5k a night, you just committed a highway robbery! And very frankly, I prefer South Goa to North Goa.
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Old 20th July 2018, 10:20   #6
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Re: Frugal holidaying tips: What are yours?

First things first, if you want to compromise on spending money you will spend it on time.

For example: If I have to cut down on Madras-Chandigarh flight cost. I could travel Madras-Delhi and take a Shatabdi from there. This ofcourse affects one thing: TIME. What would have take say 5 hrs door to door would now take like 12-14 hours door-to-door. This has direct bearing on the scheduling.

Hotel stays are a big component. On a driving holiday, I usually prefer staying in small towns than large cities. For example: With Mangalore/Madikeri as a destination. Spending 1800 a night in Palguni, Hassan versus > 3K in Bangalore or Hosur. This floats my boat, and may not workout for everyone.

I do splurge once a while on stays, depending the destination and if I want to make it special.

Food: On a driving holiday. I hunt for 4 star+ rated restaurants along my driving route. Even read through reviews and mark them up in Google Maps. These are mostly budget places with good reviews for food, cleanliness. Recommendations from fellow travellers are also marked up. One such nondescript yet fantastic find was Rasoi in Panchgani, off Wai-Panchagani-Mahabaleshwar main road. Usually budget about 2000 for food per day. This is just an outline estimate and may not work everyday for every destination. Ideally I'd try to average out over the trip.

Few things I wouldn't bring in cost cutting is with fuel (this again I hunt and mark them up), surprise maintenance (if any) and most importantly safety.

One thing such trips require (and is free) is loads of planning.

One major point that is a requirement for such planning, is having like minded fellow travellers who have faith in your planning, choice and execution. This is a pre-requisite for the time and effort in planning any sort of trip.
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Old 20th July 2018, 10:33   #7
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Re: Frugal holidaying tips: What are yours?

For the past few years, my pattern has been about 12-15 short weekend/extended weekend vacations and maybe 1 longer vacation. So, given my limited means, I have no option, other than going frugal. Almost 80-90% of these trips include my family as well. Moreover, most of my short trips happen with overnight or maximum a week's advance planning. So here is what I do -

- I choose a destination and drive without any advance hotel/resort bookings. Once there, I look up locally whatever appeals to me the most and strike a deal, or if unavailable, at the next best. True, it takes some time, and some driving around, but I have usually been able to net far better deals on the immediately available unsold inventory than what is available on any website. Don't try this though, if your family (read - wife) isn't cooperative. For instance, I have done, amongst many many short trips, even a 11 day Rajasthan drive (5 pax), 10 day Himachal Drive (5 pax), 14 day Ladakh drive (4 pax) etc. with ZERO hotel bookings and never had a reason to regret.

- I drive. It's usually cheaper overall and more flexible. My longer trips tend to involve flights though, but again, (mostly) no bookings.

- I invest in Relationships. I tend to build a good rapport with my hosts and stay in touch. This results in good discounts and free upgrades on my repeat visits. And I do make a lot of repeat visits (Nod to - Wife).

Last edited by roy_libran : 20th July 2018 at 10:35.
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Old 20th July 2018, 10:35   #8
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Re: Frugal holidaying tips: What are yours?

Good Thread. My holiday trips have become less frequent purely because of the cost and inconvenience factor. Some of the things I believe can make the holiday frugal.
  • Travel Off Season or just before the season typically starts. For example end of February is always a good time.
  • Plan the trip during weekdays.
  • The above 2 are no brainers if you are single/married with no kids. Once school going kids come into the picture, holiday options get severely limited.
  • I personally like to spend time in the place I stay. So i look for places some-where between a home stay and a resort.
  • Look for references-especially here-for places to stay. Many of the good home stays stay away from the travel sites and manage the bookings themselves.
  • Look for all meal inclusive packages. Otherwise a cheap looking rate will get tremendously inflated because the food is expensive.
  • Drive down- This may not be always related to frugality. Personally for me a large part of a holiday experience is the drive.

My biggest tip. Stay put at home during those long weekends -Especially the common festivals/public holidays. Especially in a city like Bangalore, A majority of the crowd will have headed out. Use the time to explore parts of the city that you would never go to due to the distance/traffic/crowd during regular days or weekends. Plenty of experiences to be had.
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Old 20th July 2018, 10:37   #9
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Re: Frugal holidaying tips: What are yours?

If you get a feeling that you have compromised to save money, then it's not a good thing. The fact is most of us get very few opportunities in life to spend wth family on a holiday. So it's better if everyone has relaxed and comfortable stay. You definitely don't want to end the vacation with your family thinking you are no fun to travel with

Of course this doesn't mean one must splurge. Have a budget in mind but allow a little bit more if things warrant. Especially budget properly for food.

I prefer places that are difficult to access (relatively) and days when people have work and schools.

These things don't apply if you are young backpacking type of couples. In that case, every situation is an adventure.

Last edited by androdev : 20th July 2018 at 10:41.
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Old 20th July 2018, 11:45   #10
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Re: Frugal holidaying tips: What are yours?

My 2 cents

I prefer the Pension/ Boutique Hotel/ Homestay kind of places when on holiday. My wife loves the posh hotels - so it is either/ or!

Food - Free breakfasts - we pig out so that we can be frugal on lunch. We try roadside stuff over lunch and once we are pooped with our sightseeing, we have a good early dinner. Once every 2-3 days, we try somewhere posh or we ask the hotel folks for suggestions. They are a mine of information.

Clothes - Stick to jeans/shorts/ t-shirts in neutral colours in order to mix and match. Wear an undershirt then you can wear your shirt for an extra day. One set of smart clothes if you must.

Water - carry your own water bottles and fill up at water fountains

Guided Tours - We only use these only if the place is hard to get to or you get to be taken to places where you would not ordinarily see. Otherwise, you might barely see everything and you get pushed into the local overpriced emporium. If there are 5-10 of you, worth engaging a professional guide who will give you individual attention and has proper knowledge.

Planning - This is key - You could save a day here and there by hitting key attractions early, taking an audio tourist guide then moving on.

Shopping - Dont bother in tourist trap places. You get the same stuff in another part of the city for 20% less

Car Hire - Book in advance but check prices before the date. I reserved a Hertz car in Orlando 6 months in advance for $300 - I checked and the rate had gone up to $700. I then tried a consolidator - Honk . They bulk buy excess car rentai slots and sell them to you. Only issue is that

1: You need to pay upfront
2: You have no idea who the renter is
3: You will need to stand in line at the rental desk. Your gold card will not cut it

Check if your credit card will foot some insurance claims. Check the reputation of the car hire firm. If you do not take their costly no -excess charge, they will try scalping you on some minor scratch (in Europe).

Public Transport - Invest in day cards or similar. Check out deals where museums and travel cards are combined. Avoid taxis unless you need to transport luggage or be on time unless taxi prices are reasonable like in Bangkok

Money Changing - Carry enough cash for the first few days then understand where you get the best rates. Do not use your credit card - use a forex card

Emptynesters like me prefer staycations during holidays and vacations off peak.
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Old 20th July 2018, 11:57   #11
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Re: Frugal holidaying tips: What are yours?

Become gold member of DAE (
They have global tie up (including Club Mahindra), which lets you book rooms for approx 100usd for 5 days!
You have to book 6 months in advance.
They also have last minute deals which are also priced similar.

Also see zostel.

Last edited by purohitanuj : 20th July 2018 at 12:00.
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Old 20th July 2018, 12:16   #12
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Re: Frugal holidaying tips: What are yours?

My principles:

1. Drive to destinations.
2. Have a club membership (like Club Mahindra)
3. For overseas vacations, use cheap air tickets (you need to be on the lookout) and travel to same country or region to reduce visa costs.
4. Buying passes wherever you can (Museums, rail travel, national parks etc).
5. Heavy breakfast (avoiding lunch or dinner).

Using the above combinations, I completed a 27d trip to USA during April 2018 (2 Adults and 2 kids) under 7L (including insurance).
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Old 20th July 2018, 12:35   #13
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Re: Frugal holidaying tips: What are yours?

Great tips and suggestions. Here are my contributions :

To reduce the expense of holidaying, I follow (At least try to follow)

1. Plan in advance and look for different options.
Look for Different options and multiple vendors.
Bargain for better rates. (Eg. Makemytrip, Instead of booking through website, I always send an enquiry and when the executive calls back, I can customise and bargain hard to get some sweet deals)

2. Avoid the peak season
Advantages : Cheaper hotel rooms, Restaurant charges, Local taxies etc. compared to peak seasons
Disadvantages : You might miss the main event (or attraction).

3. Travel by train if time permits
Advantages : Significantly cheaper, Traveling in train itself is an adventure for some
Disadvantages : Time loss compared to Flight, Train journeys are not everyone's cup of tea.

4. If driving to the destination, stay at a hotel/resort outside the destination (Within 1-2 hrs drive)
Advantages : Significantly cheaper room rates. Staying away from main tourist place and crowd.
Disadvantages : 1-2 hrs added driving.

5. For long-ish holidays, stay in places where self-cooking is allowed
Advantages : Cooking own food is always safer compared to eating out. Saves money too.
Can prepare and carry your lunch/snacks/water.
Disadvantages : You will miss enjoying the local flavor.

6. Plan your holidays with close friends/relatives, if possible
Advantages :Travelling in a group of like-minded people whom you are comfortable with, cut down the cost by a big margin and is very enjoyable too.
You get better deals at hotels for group booking and even at some attractions
Disadvantages : You will have to adjust a lot (in terms of timings, travel plans, food etc)

7. Avoid shopping at tourist locations unless absolutely necessory
You can buy same stuff at cheaper rates elsewhere / online. Significantly cheaper.

These tips might be useful for people who don't have any club membership / Travel credit cards.

Last edited by Asish_VK : 20th July 2018 at 12:45.
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Old 20th July 2018, 12:42   #14
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Re: Frugal holidaying tips: What are yours?

Me and my wife are very particular of the cost of vacation.
I am lucky that my wife does not like to stay in Grand hotels or resorts as she feels for short duration we cannot explore and use all the facilities.
However if you wish to just relax, then the resorts make a lot of sense. I saw this in Mauritius where Europeans preferred half or Full boarding in the resorts. We had booked bed and breakfast only. We generally stay at Botique hotels and we use lot of points and offers.
Within South India we prefer to drive down else take a flight.
We book all the trips by ourselves and not take packages as we feel we get better deal booking ourselves. All our foreign trips are self booked and we did save quite a lot.
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Old 20th July 2018, 13:42   #15
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Re: Frugal holidaying tips: What are yours?

Originally Posted by purohitanuj View Post
Become gold member of DAE (
They have global tie up (including Club Mahindra), which lets you book rooms for approx 100usd for 5 days!
You have to book 6 months in advance.
They also have last minute deals which are also priced similar.

Also see zostel.
Just as reference, got this message today by DAE:
Feel Good Friday Deals Exclusively For You! Last Minute Getaways Starting @ Just $ 59 For 3N. Hurry Call 08049017400 Now & Book / Gift Today.
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