For people who compromise with mainstream careers to travel and yet lack the skills, contacts or inheritance to raise enough money to do so on a regular basis, it always helps to know how to save money while travelling. I am trying to list out a few ideas that either helped me save money or I saw others using them, thus making me loath myself. (Do note that these tips are specifically for travels in India).
Even if you like privacy, you can save a lot of money simply by sharing your vehicles. This is especially true in the locations where public transportation is scarce. Especially in some hilly areas, they charge exorbitant prices considering the dearth of options. I have had to shell out excessive amounts in many remote Himalayan locations. So, even if you are going solo, it is better to join other people and save the heartburn.
In case you do not have relatives, friends or Couchsurfers in your intended destination, consider not commercial (read religious) accommodations. Various temples and monasteries offer shelter and basic amenities to visitors at nominal rates, especially in the remote locations. Did you just say you are not religious? Never say that again unless you are a millionaire.
Be shameless and avail free food:
The above also holds good for food. I got free food at the temple atop Kalo Dungar in Kutch. I did put some money in the donation box but nobody will force you to do so. Once I’d ended up in the Sufi shrine of Moluddin Chisti amidst the jungle in Delhi while looking for a haunted house. They offered me sweets for no particular reason. I’m sure everyone knows about the langars too.
Indians are naturally good at bargaining and it is not seen as offensive. Unfortunately I never picked up this skill from my fellow countrymen. I often see other people buy the same thing at much lower price after having bought myself. Anyways, this is one skill people visiting India should learn from the natives. In fact, if you have a deeper look, it is actually an exciting mindgame between the shopkeepers and buyers.
Shun the AC:
People prefer air-conditioned vehicles for comfort and safety. They are decidedly much more expensive too. But especially in India I do not really think we get value for money. The AC compartments in trains are as crowded as the rest. The semi-sleeper AC buses make no sense at all. They do not have enough rooms to spread the legs and all I get in such buses is a heavy dose of claustrophobia. In a more philosophical sense, I also feel that the AC detaches from the location you are visiting. Shun the AC, soak in the breeze (unless it is the peak of summer) and embrace the road.
Get those coupons:
This is common knowledge that in this day and age nobody pays the maximum retail price. Flight, buses, cabs, hotels and everything else is available at discounted rates if you know where to search. So, just go through the internet deals and coupon sites and save the money for a good drink (which is expensive in this country due to high taxation).