“So you are now an avid traveler, you must be a millionaire now” this is what I get to hear all the time from my friends. They keep following me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and last but not the least my blog. They keep enquiring about my next destination and many of them have actually chosen a destination for their vacation after reading my blogs. And for some, I have to even prepare a personalized itinerary.
What people especially friends fail to realize is that I have a full-time job, my wife also has a full-time job and we have an eight-year-old school going daughter. We are just like any other average middle-class Indian family with things to take care off. We have to pay electricity bills, monthly food expenses, pay the maids and not to forget the massive school expenditures. Keeping all these in mind I also have also purchased life insurance policies just to be sure that there is a fixed back up.
I have selectively chosen insurance which has flexible premium paying options such as term plans so that I can secure my loved ones future while planning a trip without any worries.
So how do I manage to travel so much? The answer is not a single one-liner but a combination of many factors. And the reason that I am writing this blog is to help you make a planned approach thus enabling you to travel often and disconnect from the regular chores of life from time to time. This not only will help you in your daily routine but also will help you to refresh yourself and inject some new energy to perform better.
Since I have a corporate job and my wife is a school teacher thus our holiday patterns do not match. My wife gets a big summer break and a winter break whereas for me I get a fixed set of holidays per year which I need to plan and use. If you take a calendar in your hand I am sure you will find many weeks which can be used as an extended holiday option. I often tend to use these but the only problem that I face is that like me many another plan at the same time thus there is usually a rush across trains and flights. To avoid this, I book my tickets in advance and in some cases book ticket to a particular railway junction first and then look for nearby destinations.
This works quite well when you have the online flight ticket sale. I once purchased Rs. 500 flight tickets around four months in advance and then later around a month before the actual departure did I finalize of the final destination.
My wife and daughter have almost similar holiday patterns thus it’s easy to plan a vacation during summer vacations or for that matter winter vacations. On the downside popular destinations get overcrowded so I always go to unknown destinations thus avoiding the mad rush.
To ensure availability of train ticket I always book from the start station to the end station as the quota of tickets is always more in these than having to book the destination station somewhere in-between the total train journey. It becomes slight expensive but in the long run, you don’t have to wait and watch you waitlisted tickets go down one step at a time.
As a corporate employee, I can take an annual vacation which I plan ahead at the beginning of the financial year and make sure to accommodate the best vacation of the year for this. I get to avail by LTA (Leave Travel Allowance) so the extra cash in hand gets used for this special vacation.
If there is a chance to travel for some work, then I keep my itinerary open. I let my work schedule as it is but dolook for some offshoot destinations on the way that might fall between my hotel and my place of work. If the official travel involves a weekend and you get a day off, then that also can be utilized by visiting short nearby destinations. Just keep in mind that you should not tire yourself out as you are on an official visit and work is the first priority.
A good idea would be to wake up as early as possible and take a short stroll around nearby tourist attractions before heading to your work. Trust me it works magic since you feel completely fresh and also in the early morning there tends to be very fewer tourists thus you get to enjoy a clear view.
Speak to friends or refer to weekend destination blogs and I am sure you will not be disappointed. Finally, if your office permits then extend your stay after finishing your work. Get hold of some cheap B&B and have a really cheap short vacation.
Keep a basic saving every month if you are really into travel. In my family, this is practiced both by me and my wife. This way it does not become a burden during the actual vacations. LTA reimbursements from offices vary from office to office thus do know from your accounts as to how long does the money gets reimbursed after applying for LTA.
Use Credit Cards wisely, initially, I had some bad experiences as during vacation you lose track of the final expenditure and this comes to haunt you in your next payment cycle.
I use a combination of both cash and cards while traveling within India. Do an online search and get to know nearby ATM’s at your vacation destination. I had once had a horrible experience in Darjeeling where all ATM’s had run out of cash and the ones that had money had over two hundred people standing in a queue.
When carrying cash, I divide the cash between me and my wife that also we keep some in our purse or wallet and some hidden away. I have made a practice to carry emergency cash which is not used and stored secretly and is to be only used during a complete emergency. For international destinations, I prefer carrying a combination of Forex cards and foreign currencies.
I have had previous bad experiences when it comes to medical expenditures in my family thus the first thing that I ensured when I got into a job was to buy medical insurance for all my family members and to top it up from time to time with the rising medical expenses.
When traveling abroad I do not opt for the cheapest term insurance but the one that suits my needs. One that offers long-term cover for my loved ones, and has a claim settlement ratio of above 95%. You can also opt for term insurances which also offer riders such as accident cover so that in case of an accident, your finances are secured.
If you have term insurance, then use the online term insurance premium calculator which most of the insurance sites now must choose the policy that best suits your lifestyle. This is a necessary and a fixed payment that you have to make every month thus plan ahead.
I try and keep a day off after a long vacation before attending office this way you get to restart your daily house lifestyle and do not get to attend office where you still find it difficult to adjust back. The same applies to your child also give them a day or two to adjust back else they will find it difficult to directly attend school the very next day. Your vacation is like a quality time that you will be spending and not a time in prison so keep some plans open and adjust them as they come.
These are my personal suggestions at the end of the day it’s you who are taking the vacation thus you are your own best judge. Have a great trip and do share your thoughts as a feedback.
About Aegon Life:
With a complete product suite of life insurance plans, superior technology, and customized service, Aegon Life Insurance Company Limited launched its pan-India operations in July 2008. As a joint venture between Aegon – world’s leading financial services and Bennett, Coleman & Company – India’s leading media house, Aegon Life Insurance adopts a local approach to facilitate customer interaction. Our vision to be the most recommended new age life insurance company has enabled us to leverage digital platforms that bring transparent solutions to customer needs. Our financial planning and investment solutions include term life insurance plans, pension plans, unit-linked insurance plans (ULIPs), health insurance plans, child education plans, and more.