ET Unpublished Article
Thank you for the mail. Have given my answers below. Few are in detail. Just choose parts which you feel are relevant.
How many places have you visited on a shoestring budget?
Have backpacked across 40 countries on a shoestring budget
How many days in advance do you plan your trip?
Basically I start my planning in Sept - Oct for the coming year. I map out all the long weekends which are coming up in the next year which helps with my leaves etc. I also put out the long weekend calendar for all my followers https://www.outofofficedaku.com/longweekends2022 with suggestions on which days they can keep leave to make it a long holiday weekend.
Also I am not stuck on any particular country specifically except if I am planning Europe which needs prior planning for the visa process etc. I have covered a few countries just because I got a cheap flight and I had not visited it. Flight cost is the biggest expense on a trip. So that also helps save me money.
Your most expensive trip?
All my trips are basically done in the same cost overall. I do make necessary changes in case the country I am visiting is costly. Like on my visits to Sweden and Finland where the hostels are also priced at Rs. 2500 per night and food etc is expensive I compensate it with living in hotels which offer basic food stuff for cooking. That’s a good Rs. 2000 + saving in such countries. And I look for hotels with a full fledged kitchen where I can cook instead of spending on restaurants expensive food.
Buy stuff from supermarkets and cook. It costs 1/4. Also buying fresh cut veggies etc in supermarkets post 7 - 8 pm they have those in 50%+ off which is again a saving.
Having said that I do try all local delicacies without keeping a budget but save cost where it’s possible.
For a 30 days trip to Europe + Balkans + Istanbul I spend close to 1.70 lakh which includes the flight + visa costs + hostels + Internal Transportation + food + drinks + attractions etc
Your least expensive trip?
It would be the Philippines as it was just one country I visited as had got a superb deal with Singapore Airlines + wanted to fly on A380. Saved much on air fare cost + no visa.
Have you faced any challenges in regards to food, language or culture during any of your trips?
“Be Flexible” is the Myntra I always go with on my trips. Every barrier has a solution if you’re a little flexible.
I am an eggitarian & have traveled in China & Japan without having any issues. Language would be an issue in communication when ordering food so I had got food cards in local language made via my Hostel receptionist. Would show them the cards which had all the non-veg food items I did not consume. They would happily show me the veg combination options they could offer. Some even would let me in the kitchen to see and choose.
Supermarkets are my favourite place in any country. If nothing works just get some bread + cheese + veggies + ketchup and you’re ready with a nice sandwich. Alternatively pasta or rice with sauces also are next best option. Cook in hostel & enjoy.
For meals in countries which are costly like the Scandinavian etc I search for Turkish Joints. Value for money tasty food and they also have vegetarian.
Google Translate etc apps also help a lot in day to day communication. But I make sure I learn the basic greeting in the visiting country’s local language such as Hello, Thank You etc which helps the locals also feel like he’s making an attempt to communicate. They happily then speak on the app.
I have never had any issues with cultural changes. A few locations did face racism but it was always from 1-2 persons in which if you fight back name shame them then there are always others who don’t support such behaviour and they treat you really well.
Five things that are your essential travel companion
- My day bagpack which I use once I am in a particular city
- Packing Cubes ( Make life really easy whether your backpacking or carrying the full suitcase. Everything remains organised and saves space)
- My water bottle (30 days in Europe and re-filling your drinking water bottle is an average 10K saved)
- Power Bank
- Mobile Handset with internet
Any travel mishap/blunder/gaffe that you'd like to share?
I was visiting Seychelles and had rented a car. Had made sure it had all the insurance etc. They never explained the local road signs/ rules etc. Basically the bus stand there did not have any board on the side to signify that the bus will halt there. I didn’t know. I was driving behind a local bus and suddenly it came to a halt and I crashed the car in the rear of the bus.
While I knew it was all covered the car owner tried to take advantage of it and wanted me to pay for all the expenses so that he could claim a no claim bonus and save premiums etc.
Also it was long back when tourist self driven cars were just launched so the police also did not know how to handle such cases. Me, the car owner and the police were all sitting and reading their rule book to find out what’s to be done about it. It was really funny as we did not find anything and after a few hours I was let go with just writing down my experience on a piece of paper. The owner did try to get hold of me in other ways, etc, so he could take money but wasn’t successful. I never did hand him my passport with whatever he tried.
Have you ever lost something on a trip?
Not lost anything particularly but in Rome I was really careful to pack all my stuff in the day bag and had my metro 3 day tourist pass in my pocket. In the crowds it was pick pocked.
I make sure I check & book hostels which have separate lockers near the reception area. I keep my valuable stuff + passport in that before leaving for the day. Helps keep them safe.
What's the best part about travelling for you?
Traveling is all about getting out of your comfort zone in a new territory. It’s helped me in many ways. Learning so much about the different cultures + how people across the world live + what they eat + how they pass time etc. The different products in their supermarkets etc. Also, as a person, you learn to tackle challenges, get ways out if things don’t work. Plan new things on the go.
Three places on your next travel destination and why.
There are many on the list. Top 3
- Train journey from Portugal to Vietnam. For the thrill of it, you cross so many countries, landscapes and rail networks on the way. This was planned for 2020 but got cancelled
- Faroe Islands. This place has been on my list for long because of how remote and beautiful it is. And they got helicopters, which run as buses between the islands.
- Antarctica. A costly affair but someday will visit the southernmost continent
Do you travel alone or with friends/partner(s)?
I am a Solo Traveller and have been to all countries alone. My parents did join me in one of the countries (Singapore) on my Asian backpacking trip.
Have you traveled with a stranger? If yes, then how was the experience?
Not really travelled with one but did have bar hops with friends made at hostel. It’s lovely to go along with people from different countries and know their ways and things they do + a lot of knowledge exchange.
You also learn some serious lessons. Never go drinking with the Japanese. Where you end your drinking they haven’t even begun and it’s an insult if you don’t give them company till the end.
Also, do share the reason behind keeping your travel account on Instagram anonymous: A. the reason behind it, B. the purpose of the account.
My main Twitter Account is @dakuwithchaku where I earlier used to post flight deals. Later made a separate account just for my travel content. Setting Outofoffice mail is the best part when you’re about to go on a holiday so that’s the reason I added outofoffice + daku from my original handle. That went on for all SM handles.
I wanted to have a specific handle which would only focus on my travel content hence the name + also Twitter handle had the same id so it's easy for people to search and relate
B: I put my posts in a curated form for every country which will help a traveller see and enjoy + plan a trip if needed. I do give out lot of hacks in my stories etc which later are saved in highlights for travelers to refer.
Website/Blogs : https://www.outofofficedaku.com
Some blogs which have helped travellers
DIY Schengen Visa - https://www.outofofficedaku.com/post/schengen-visa
Winter Wear - Cheaply Done - https://www.outofofficedaku.com/post/winter-wear
In case of any clarifications or more details please let me know. Still need more or anything specific to how to book hostels cheaply or money saving tips in Europe etc then also let me know.