Friday, 1 June 2012

Money Saving Tips for International Getaways

Planning International Getaways
Do you have a passport?
  • If not, get one… soon.  You can start here.  Save yourself money by getting the application completed and sent in at least 3 months before you travel.  Save yourself sanity by taking care of it right away.
  • If you do have one, find it.  Check the expiration date.  Make sure it is valid for at least 6 months after your scheduled return.  Some countries will not let you enter unless this is the case.  If it expires shortly after your travel, apply for renewal.
Buy your airline tickets as soon as you know your itinerary.  People are planning their getaways much farther in advance than ever before, and airlines are raising ticket prices faster than ever.  Prices are higher right now than the were last summer, but likely not as high as they will get this summer.  Protect yourself by buying early… but not so early that you will have to pay outrageous change fees. Buying tickets 3 to 2 Months Prior is advisable. Trust me this will save you a lot of money.
Consider purchasing Travel Insurance, especially if the policy covers flight delays or cancellation. It can also help if your baggage is lost or delayed, loss of passport and very important medical coverage. Trust me you will need deep pockets if you fall sick in a foreign country. The medical expenses are too high. So consider buying the policy to save yourself a lot of money. It cost less than Rs.1000 for a 10 to 12 days Trip. For additional cost you can also insure yourself for trip cancellation & trip delays which will protect you from last minute cancellations of your trip because of unforseen situations.

Can you travel off-season?  The summer months are the most popular for traveling to most foreign destinations, but going spring or fall can often save you some serious cash.  Besides, tourist attractions may be less crowded at those times.  There are exceptions like Spring Break and Thanksgiving week.
Are you open to flying any day of the week?  Sundays are usually the most expensive day to fly, closely followed by Fridays.  Fly on a Tuesday, Wednesday or Satuarday to get the best deal on airfares. 

After Your Itinerary Is Decided, But Before You Travel

Once your flight is booked, check with us about what fees you will encounter:
  • Seat assignment fee
  • Baggage fees
  • Fuel surcharge add-ons
  • Ask about any others

If you must pay for baggage, considering sharing a suitcase with your sweetie and putting everything else in carry-ons.  This is especially helpful if you are likely to return with more than you take.  But make sure your suitcase stays under 20 kgs or you will not save money.
Keep an eye on currency exchange rates for the country/countries you will be visiting.  If the US Dollar gets a particularly high exchange rate one day, it might be a good idea to exchange some.  While it is widely advised that credit cards give you the best exchange rate, that doesn’t take into account additional fees that your bank may charge.  Besides, you may find having a bit of local currency when you arrive in a country keeps things running smooth.
Once your travel plans are finalized, call the customer service number on any credit/debit cards you want to take.
  • Give them your travel dates, and the countries/cities you will be visiting.
  • Ask about currency conversion fees, international ATM fees, & cash advance fees.
  • Be sure to ask if they have any applicable fees you have not asked about.  This will give you the true cost of using your cards internationally.
Know about tipping guidelines.  Not all countries/areas have the same tipping policy as we do in India, so find out how much you should and shouldn’t leave where.

At Your Destination

If transportation is not included in your getaway package, consider using public transportation.  Many cities have excellent subway systems… and even bus systems if you take the time to understand them.  Combining this with walking as much as you can will save you money over taking taxis everywhere.
If your meals are not included in your getaway price, try eating and shopping where the locals do. Ask someone you meet at your destination their favorite restaurant.  It will likely give you a more authentic experience as well as save you some money compared to eating at restaurants that cater to tourists.  It may also make you a friend or two, which could also lead to getting more tips.

If you have any other tips to include, please leave a comment.  If I can help you plan your international getaway, please contact travel & more at

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Last Minute Holidays By Air - Indonesia

Indonesia - The world's largest island archipelago combines mystique, adventure and beauty to make a heady holiday cocktail. Java's Borobudur, a Mahayana Buddhist relic, which includes 5km of Buddhist carvings and rises from a carpet of pretty paddy fields, will be a sight you wont forget in a hurry. Tana Toraja in Sulawesi is home to ethnic Toraja People and a cultural discovery. See the traditional tongkonan houses and be mystified by their funeral rites, which includes buffalo and pig carnages, tall wooden effigies and hanging graves. Head to familiar Bali and immerse yourself in its concoction of temple ceremonies, scenic treks, quaint beach town, shadow-puppet theatre and vivifying spa retreats. Kalimantan's steaming jungles and their reticent inhabitants (proboscis monkeys, sun bears and orang-utans) and the tribal hamlets are great exploration spots. Visit Komodo  National Park, home to the Komodo dragon, the world largest living lizard, and dive in its waters alongside manta rays and dolphins. Hire a mountain bike to scale Sumatra's volcanic craters, mountains and jungles for wildlife sightings, and cycle to the volcanic Danau Toba Lake.

Visa: Tourist are issued a visa on arrival (valid for 30 days from arrival, Rs.1120) your passport must be valid for at least six months from the arrival date, have at least one unused page for a visa on arrival sticker, and a confirmed return/onward ticket.

Monday, 19 March 2012

Last Minute Holidays by Air - Mauritius

Mauritius: On your way from the airport, you'll go past bustling Port Louis with its well preserved colonial relics, museums and famous Chinatown. The Historical Le Morne Brabant peninsula with its 4km shoreline in the extreme south hosts some of the country's best beaches and takes its name from the stunning single-standing basaltic rock that looms over it. Go hikking in the country's sole national park, Black River Gorges, covered in dense forest rife with endemic species of flowering plans and birds and a hauntingly beautiful crater lake. Thumb-shaped Le Pouce Mountain in the north-west is ideal for mountain biking, especially when you pedal your way up to staggerring views of the island and then spend the come-down at swanky party town Grand Baie. Mauritian cuisine is a schizophrenic crowd-puller, refelecting its jumble-sale population and colonial influences - be sure to nosh on dhol purri, gateaux piment (chilli cakes) and spicy camarons (fresh-water prawns in hot sauces). Volcanic Rodrigues Island, 500 km north east, is a getaway from a getaway, with some of the best diving you'll find around here.

Visa: Free tourist visa or upto 60 days. Carry two passport sized photos, hotel confirmations a confirmed return ticket. Your passport will need to be endorsed with Rs.4500 for each day there and should be valid for at least six months from your date of arrival. 

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Last Minute Holidays By Air - The Seychelles

The Seychelles: Nature has been unsparing in its generosity to this cluster of 115 islands in the Indian Ocean. Jungle-wrought before its first human settlements two centuries ago, the Seychelles today are a perfect shoo-in for paradise. You're spoilt for choice when it comes to solitary, celluliod-friendly beaches, and whether you go to the more populated inner islands or the outlying ones, you're bound to feel like you've made a good choice. The inner granitic islands of the Seychelles are its most populous; Mahe is the largest with lovely bays, sun-spangled waters and granite peaks, an island whose beauty isn't hindered by its classy bouquet of vacation opportunities. The Country's interiors are largely made up of the magnificient Morne Seychellois National Park, which embraces the Seychelles highest Peak and is choked with various forest systems. Languish on Praslin island, yet another beach haven that strikes a balance between Mahe's relative humdrumness and the comatose pace of the smaller La Digue island. Its world heritage Vallee de Mai National Park is home to the rare coco de mer palms. Aride and Bird Island northwards are the Seychelles hottest birding and eco tourism hubs crawling with legions of terns, noddies, hawksbills and also green turtles. Wee granitic cousin island too, only 1 km in diameter, is swamped with more than 3,00,000 birds. The Seychelles is a proper dream sequence except it's real and increasingly affordable? No, there is no catch.

Visa: Tourists are issued a visa on arrival for a maximum of 15 Days provided you have a passport that is valid for at least six months from the date of arrival, a return or an onward ticket, proof of accomodation and sufficient funds (approx Rs.6670 Per Day Per Person)   

Last Minute Holidays By Air - Hong Kong

Hong Kong - To Enjoy Hong Kong nuances, and it does have those - you have to submit to it first. Once you have powered through its explosion of crowds, cars and concrete, and your eyes have adjusted to blinding neon, you'll find that below its slick exterior, Hong Kong can be downright soulful. Tuck into dim sums and jasmine tea alongside the locals in traditional tea-houses and smoky canteens in the central district. Visit the ornate Man mo and Wong Tai Sin temples and breathe in the air, thick with burning incence and fervent prayers. Hire a junk, traditional Chinese fishing boat, for a picnic across the beautiful Aberdeen harbor. Ocean Park, a massive theme park with fun rides, aviary and marine shows and recreations of China's past, is perfect for kids. Temple street in Central Kowloon is a delightfully unruly ghetto rife with hawkers, soothsayers, out-of-work opera troupes and food stalls serving what you hope are only rare crustaceans. For bargain shopping and laidback waterfront lunch, visit the popular open air Stanley Market. later, take the 120 year old funicular up to Victoria Peak for unparalleled views of the city's skyline in all its glamour and restlessness, with the rest of China strretching out behind its mountains to the north. A tranquil retreat from the city's buzz is the verdant Lantau Island, home to Hong Kong Disneyland and Hong Kong's biggest Buddhist monastery, where you can reflect over views os the rolling hillside along with a 100ft tall statue of Buddha. Hong Kong's eastern roots, covered with its western makeover, leave you with a destination that's a delight to deconstruct
Visa: No Visa for Indian nationals travelling to Hong Kong for a maximum stay up to 14 days.