Often have I heard people say, “I love to travel and see places… but I don’t have the money right now; I will [travel], when I have it [the money]”. Little do they know that when you finally have it, you either won’t have the time for a holiday or you will have other responsibilities to take care of.
This is where the very low budget or in management terms, the “lean travel” comes into the picture. The concept of lean travel is to travel at an unbelievably low budget and at the same time, still enjoy a comfortable journey. Much in the lines of the “lean” principle, it is to eliminate the wastage of resources (in this case, money) in areas where the customer (traveller) doesn’t find much value in. This is unlike the “hippie” styled travel where the comfort levels of travel are considerably lower.
Now, how is lean travel achieved? Where’s the catch?
Well, before I start, let me make a disclaimer that this style of travel might be suitable only for young, healthy, adventure seeking individuals who can forego some luxuries to make a large travel possible at a low cost!
If you have travelled a lot, you will agree that it is always the boarding & lodging expenses that form a considerable chunk of the total holiday travel cost. Lean travel tackles this cost first. Rule number one is to minimize the number of stays in your holiday travel plan. Plan your travel in such a way that you visit places of interest in the daytime and travel by night. In India, we are very well connected by the railways. They are not only cheap but also comfortable. There are air conditioned coaches in which you will get a comfortable night’s sleep. So, use them. However, there are a few further rules when you book your tickets in them. Use telescopic tickets rather than standalone tickets when you travel. This way, you can travel at a fourth of the cost that you pay otherwise. As far as possible, travel on trains whose destinations match up with yours. This will give you a peaceful night’s sleep especially if you are of the kind who can’t get up at odd hours.
Another way in which the travel cost can go up is when you plan very late. So plan well in advance. This prevents you from paying up tatkal charges and also the exorbitant prices that the airlines charge you when you buy the tickets late.
Well, that was all the theory part of it. Now the big question is, whether it can actually be done? To try it out, I went on a 21-day, 10,200km journey across India, covering 17 different cities in 14 states. The trip cost me just Rs.18,000/- including the travel, food, accommodation and even the shopping costs. Travel costs included my flight ticket, 14 rail tickets (mostly AC coaches), buses, ferry, etc. I had stayed only in 5 cities out of the 17 that I had been to; used home-stays rather than hotels; used public transports than hired ones. But the travel experience gained was unexplainably great. In all, it was one memorable 21 days that I have had in my life and which I got by spending so less.
Before I end, let me tell you that India is an unbelievably beautiful place. The lesser heard of places, especially in the North like Ladakh and the states in the North-East are a definite “must-see”; not to forget those beautiful places in India which you would have already heard of. And now, with the lean travel concept, “anyone can travel”.