A wall map of India hung in my bedroom has been luring me for so many years to tour the length and breadth of the nation. Every time I made a plan, I had to retract as financial constraints stood in my way. A few off days this November rekindled the desire and soon I sought Google’s assistance to take out the most cost-effective tour in India. There were confusions since I had made up my mind to go solo. Luckily, optimism cleared all obstacles. Starting from Thiruvananthapuram Central Railway Station, with break points at Mumbai, Jaipur, Delhi, Haridwar, Rishikesh, Agra and Puducherry, the 20-day trip became very memorable.
Amar Jawan Jyoti at India Gate.
I depended mainly on rail transport for a budget travel. My choice was to take train trips during the night since it helped keep my accommodation expenses low. Saved day time was a brownie point.
Thanks to my co-passengers who ranged from Army officers to chaai-walas, wherever Google failed, they came to my help. All over India, the swarm of auto-taxi walas and their ‘amazing packages’ was a common sight. I wittingly avoided them upon realising it was profitable only for them, not me. My local transport was in metros, sub-urban trains, share autos and local buses. Hitchhiking did help me a lot and their generosity towards a ‘stranger’ made me feel overwhelmed. But, make sure to play the cards right. I chose not to hitchhike at night.
Accommodation usually guzzles a large part of the travel expenses. Relying on retiring rooms and dormitories helped save my pocket. Drinking water could be a less-expensive necessity on long trips, even if one relies on the cheaper Rail Neer. Refilling bottles with the free or affordable refills at the railway station, this expense can nearly be wiped out.
When in Rome, do like the Romans do. Trying local cuisines is part of knowing a new culture. Make sure not to miss the local varieties. Street foods are superbly delicious and pocket-friendly. Prioritising hygiene is good to save the stomach. Being a vegetarian, everything went fine for me. But think twice if you are a non-vegetarian.
Light luggage helps in easy travel. Laundry facilities are available even in budget hotels, even though it can’t be assured. Keep in mind that there will be times when legs will be the only mode of transport. Make sure to carry a lock even if there aren’t any valuables in the pack. Some cloak rooms accept luggage only if they are properly locked.
Safety at check
Sad but true, places of worship have become breeding grounds for fraudsters to flourish. Make sure to double check their intentions over your beliefs.
Watch your guides
Rely on tourist guides only if one finds it too difficult to understand things. Double check their credibility not to get misguided. Many tourist places have on offer detailed descriptions. Audio guide is a good option. I had difficulty understanding the scientific instruments at Jantar Mantar in Jaipur but a close reading of the description really helped.
The entire journey was at an expense of Rs 4,600. It might or might not work for others, but I am sure that it will give an insight that a smaller pocket is not a constraint to travel ambitions anymore.