Tips for travel in India: How to save money on the road!

So you making a plan for another trip in India and looking for some Tips to save money while traveling in India? Well then, you are in luck today! Being an Indian Travel Blogger and having traveled across the country on budget, I have some such money saving tricks, and this post is all about sharing those :)

India tips tricks to save money for travel

1. Get Local

I think all of us understand this term in different ways. For some of us it means living in a city for a long time so that they can understand the place and its culture just like a local. However, in context of budget travel, it’s more about learning from the locals quickly and applying the same in your life. 

Stay with a local - a relative or a homestay
When I started traveling by myself more than a decade back, I started with cities where I already knew someone - a relative or a close friend. It was driven by both an opportunity to meet them and it also helped me save some precious cash. Now that I have more money to travel, I love staying with Homestays - it allows me to save a bit of cash, but most importantly it helps me understand the place better. You can always find them online, but sometimes the best ones are to be found after going to the city itself. Be open minded and your trip would rock!

Eat Local food - ask the locals, or try trip advisor
Eating local food is perhaps the best way to save money when you are in a new place. India has some phenomenal street food, but the cheapest and the best places are usually hidden in narrow alleys somewhere in the old city. Make friends with a local to discover them - I use twitter, TripAdvisor, Instagram messager or even a stranger to ask for recommendations. Talking with strangers has been a strategy which has worked well with me in Africa also. Do try it! Be careful though, and always use your instinct. I won't recommend this if you are a solo non-Indian woman traveling in India.

Use local Transportation
I don’t even have to say this, but please use local transportation, especially in areas where it is good, like Tamil Nadu, Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata and many more places. Avoid an auto-rickshaw if you are unsure about the rates as they can easily fleece you, though at times they are the only option available.

Trains are an experience in India and certainly must be tried! Use this link to book tickets for travel in India by trains - Indian Railways.

How to shop!
When you travel in India, there is no way you will not shop. Shop as much as you can, but again stay loyal with your shopping! Go to local markets where the residents of the city or the town go and shop there. Villages usually have weekly markets which are great places to buy local produce. 

However, if you do have some money to dispense, check out this article on shopping tips in India.

2. Spend smartly with a credit card

I have completely stopped using my debit cards, or even cash when I travel in a big city. My main means of spending money is a Credit card. Why? Because I earn points and it allows me to travel even more, especially with Travel Cards. Check out some of the cards by Citibank.

3. Try new - CouchSurfing, airbnb, Oyo, Meetups

When I was a student in US, there was no way I could afford a hotel, but I still wanted to travel. I attended a GIG Photo walk and met someone there who often hosted travellers in San Francisco and introduced me to the Couchsurfing. Since then I have stayed in many many cities with the locals at no cost at all, and also hosted many back home in India. I made numerous friends and saw the city from completely different eyes, especially during my 10 day stay in New York.

Airbnb is another great way to save some money and stay with a local. I have done it both in India and Europe and the experience has always been great. Recently I also stayed with OYO Rooms, and really liked them. They are very affordable business hotels, but with free wifi, work great for travellers as well.

Meetup is another way to meet locals and learn from them. These can be organised either by a local or a traveler to the city. A great way to learn about the local way of living, making common plans with other travellers and learning tips on saving money locally.

4. Use technology

Apps to save money
I just talked about using local transportation above and one the best ways to do it is by using an array of apps. There are apps which tell you about bus timings etc, but you can go a step further and try out apps for ride sharing also, which can save you both time and money over ling distance travel between cities. Safety is paramount and you must be absolutely sure about your host. 

Google map - walk as much as you can, plan trips better - save the maps on your phone and use them without using data

Use twitter or other social media channels to connect with locals. I also use Instagram for this and find it extremely useful. Most advice is very genuine and reliable.

Of course, if you need to use any of these apps, you need a local SIM as well. Here's a guide just for that: How to get a SIM card in India!

Find cafes with free wifi and just stand outside and use it!
Not many cafes in India have free wifi, but they can be found in bigger cities. My city Pune has a few, and Starbucks is especially good. I often just go near the cafe (without actually going inside) and use their free wifi to search for information. 

5. Plan early or don't plan at all

It’s difficult for me to suggest one of these two as I use both of these techniques. If I am traveling solo, I barely make a booking, but if I am with friends, I do plan but much in advance. There are multiple portals/ apps though which you can make great savings if you plan in advance. You can even set it to give you an alert if there is a price drop on your planned travel dates. Some of these portals that I personally use include Cleartrip, MakeMytrip and RedBus.

And how does no planning help?
Well, if I am alone I often pick a cheap accommodation near a bus-stand or a railway station. Some cities have known areas where hotels are cheap, like Pahar Gunj in New Delhi, but for the rest just use the above advice. Always negotiate the cost originally offered, and in most cases you will be able to find a compromise price which will be acceptable to all.

Bonus Tip - pack your backpack smartly

This is my favourite and something I have learned by making many mistakes. It is really important to pack your backpack because even that can help you save some money. Always keep space for food and water in your bag - chocolates, energy bars, bananas are especially good to carry. Fill your water bottle at the hotel/ homestay/ home and you won’t have to buy water. 

Here's a post to help you with your packing for India: Packing list for India

Do you also have some handy Travel Tips to save money on the Trip in India? Don't keep them to yourself, be generous and share with all of us here :)


  1. Thanks a lot for sharing this post.:)

    Sriram & Krithiga

  2. This travel tips will be of great use.

  3. Great, Thanks for your informative post.

  4. Agree with all of your tips sid...but they are sometimes not applicable for family travel especially with kids.... however budget travel is definitely possible if we are travelling with family..which has given me a good idea to share my travel tips for budget travel with family on the blog

    1. I agree with you. It's quite different when it comes to family...I mist do a post on that as well :)

    2. Yes, a post on travelling as a family in India would be useful to us too!

  5. Thank you for your advices, very interesting.

    Congratulations for your last works.

    Have a nice week end, Joshi.

  6. Very useful tips! I will use them on my first ever solo trip next weekend. Planning on travelling to Bhuj to explore the crafts and food… any suggestions Sid?

    1. Hey Chaitali - apologies for such a late reply! I guess you are back already, but I do hope it was an awesome experience :)

      Do share details :)

  7. Very well compiled post. I follow most of these practices and always love to optimize my budget. It's pretty easy when travelling solo but when you have someone with you, lot of other factors get added.

    1. Thanks VJ. Very true, these work the best when you travel solo...or maybe with one more friend. With a partner or family, things are quite different...

  8. Very well explained! I’m always trying to save money when I’m on holidays, but it goes beyond my budget. Your tips are really useful to save money while in solo/group travel.

  9. great tips...would like to add , if going to shopping, try to accompany someone local to get a better bargain/deal. Can be a friend/relative/fellow Indian traveler.

  10. Thanks Siddharth for great tips.

  11. Great tips.Thank you so much for sharing these tips.

  12. Hey Sid, Dev here. I feel like you have shared my heart in this article. Being a solo traveler, I can actually relate to every bit of it. Haha. Great article though. Cheers.

  13. India is the most traditional country and having the great adventurous places as well. These can make your tour more beautiful, to make you tour in less expenses take the tour package.

  14. Thankss for the Tips sir..
    Any Tips for Manali trip ??


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