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How to save money travelling in India

01 Aug 2017

Guest post by sistersistertravels Find them on Twitter: @sistersistertrv - Instagram: sistersistertravels and their blog -

Exchange your money on arrival

Before we set off travelling we thought we'd plan ahead and exchange our money in advance. However, once arriving at the front of the queue at the Bureau De Change we found out that India is in fact a closed currency, meaning you can't get it anywhere out of the country itself. 

Therefore, we decided to exchange our money at the airport after landing. Although this may seem strange as exchange rates are always worse in airports, it was a much safer and easier way. It also meant we'd had some local currency when hopping in our transfer to hostel.

Indian dress

Stay in hostels and guest houses booked prior

As India is a generally cheap country to travel it can be tempting to splash out and spend every night in a 5* hotel with room service. However, although it may seem a lot cheaper when comparing it to English prices, on a travel budget it will all quickly add up. In addition, staying in hotels means you miss out on meeting fellow travellers and the real 'travel' experience! 

Now we're not saying you can't stay in hotel at any point, we have to admit we let ourselves have a little bit of luxury at the end of our stay in India, but by this point we knew how much money we had left and how much we could spend.

One top tip we swear by is booking accommodation in advance, therefore you don't get ripped off on room prices when rocking up at the door. We loved using, we found it fast, easy and had a great selection.

India Buses

Take the local buses and trains

Yes the lazy traveller may come out in all of us every once in a while and a nice air-conditioned car may be very appealing at points, but they are insanely pricey compared to the local buses and trains and half the experience. The taxi prices are 5 times if not more the price of a local train and probably 10 times that’s of a bus. 

Air-con is pretty much the only benefit of getting a taxi, as behind the glass windows, you don’t get to experience the energetic vibe of the locals. When travelling on buses we watched people and animals cram on filling every little space and when you didn’t think there was any more room more arrived. Then when you really thought there wasn’t anymore room you would hear the banging of footsteps on the roof where people were perching.

Not only is taking the buses or trains a logical financial travel move but it is also a much better way to see the country you are in! And who doesn’t want to say they sat next to a goat on the bus!?

In addition, if you’re clueless as to where to get them from our Guest House staff were more than happy to take us there free of charge!

Never except the first price

Whether it comes to Tuk Tuks, Saris or Curry never ever pay the first price you are quoted. People in India live for bartering and its pretty good fun to get stuck in. 
In our experience many people went eye wateringly high for they first price but with a little gentle and good-humoured bartering their prices normally halved within minutes. Plus, if you still not happy with the price a good old “well I’m going to go and check some other stores” followed by taking a few steps backwards normally does the job.

However, don’t let bartering take over your trip. Yes, sometimes you will need to pay more than you think some is worth, but you're travelling and it happens. You’ll probably experience this with a Tuk Tuk or two but if you got to go, you got to go, don’t let it spoil the ride.

India colours

The South is more expensive than the North

When travelling we found that the South of India i.e Goa was more expensive than the North i.e Rajasthan. This is probably due to the fact that the North is a road less travelled by tourists and travellers, whereas Goa is a popular destination for yoga retreats and all-inclusive holidays. Therefore restaurants, shops and accommodation hike their prices to make the most of the busy trade. 

However, don't be put of the South due to the higher prices, we had an amazing time in Goa and well worth a visit! Just be sure to plan for the higher prices when budgeting for your trip. 
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