Let’s face it. We’ve known about this Independence Day long weekend for quite a while now. Between friends and family, you’ve discussed where all you could go – be it within the country, or even a whimsical trip out to a nearby foreign destination. But between long hours of work and everything else that put a demand on your time and energy, somehow you’ve just not managed to book anything or do much of a research. Fear not, that is exactly why we’re here.
Just because you haven’t booked anything yet, and well, the weekend pretty much starts this evening for you, does not mean you have to spend the next three days sitting at home, twiddling your thumbs and kicking yourself for not acting sooner. There is a way out that can take you on a mini adventure while ensuring it doesn’t break the bank. After all, for a three-day vacation, you don’t really want to spend much do you?!
While choosing your destination, remember a couple of things —
1) If you’re driving out, then make sure you leave a bit early this evening. Many roads get jammed late towards the night at the beginning of a long weekend because everyone’s heading out.
2) Think out of the box. Sometimes opting for foreign locales could actually work out in your favour, and turn into a great trip. There are a lot of last-minute deals that can be availed when booking flights on the same day. I’ve found sites such as Skyscanner and MakeMyTrip to give the best options. For instance, if you’re in Chennai, flights to Singapore, Bangkok or Kuala Lumpur aren’t that expensive even if you book last-minute. From Delhi, check out Kathmandu.
2a) While booking flights, check airfare using the incognito browser, sometimes the rates on that are much more economical than when you’re searching on your regular browser. Moreover, if you book through a new ID, most websites give a first-timer discount, which can add up to quite a bit of saving.
3) Don’t always book hotels, try out hostels or homestays instead. Many a time hotels hike tariffs during peak season. Homestays not only give you a chance to experience local flavor and meet some great people, but you also have a better chance of getting a place to stay at a reasonable price. Try sites such as Airbnb, Heybnb, Booking.com and Stayzilla. Some of them even offer zero cancellation fees, which is great.
3a) When searching for a place to stay, opt for those that give you a breakfast deal, or have a basic breakfast spread for all boarders.
4) According to a recent survey by popular travel website Tripadvisor, the best places to go for a three-day weekend were these: Pune, Jaipur, Chennai, Kolkata, Bangalore, New Delhi, Hyderabad and Mumbai. The surveyors considered parameters such as accommodation, lunch and dinner costs, money spent on attractions such as museums and other spaces, and taxi fare. Though we realise many of these places are your metro cities, but why not explore another metro? Think of this – airfare is likely to be cheaper to these places because of the flight frequency, you will have a fair amount of things to do, and there will be the familiarity of being in a metro city and not having to search out amenities.
5) According to the same TripIndex report by TripAdvisor, the cheapest international destinations for a three-day weekend are Hanoi, Cape Town, Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok. So, at least three of those destinations fare well in terms of return flights as well as local expenditure.
6) If you stay in one of the major metro cities, then the experts at Skyscanner have some options for you:
>>From Delhi: There’s Shimla (check out the spired Christ Church, the Ridge, and the Mall. Don’t forget to stop by the Gaiety Theatre), Kathmandu (this is one you can combine Patan and Bhaktapur with as well. Drive down to Nagarkot and this is a great option for those interested in hiking or paragliding) and Dubai (shopping!) — all three are easy to get to and have enough local options. There are also Corbett National Park, Kesroli Fort (I would have said Neemrana, but that’s full!), Lansdowne and Orchha-Khajuraho.
>>From Mumbai: There’s Goa (bum out on the beach, eat and drink, visit the Dudhsagar Falls – ’tis the rights season for it!), Ahmedabad (check out the stunning Jama Masjid and Adalaj Stepwell, Auto World Vintage Car Museum and the Calico Museum of Textiles are interesting, Manek Chowk and the Law Garden night market are great for shopping and food) and Hyderabad (Biryani! Then there’s Charminar, Falaknuma Palace, the Chowmahalla Palace and the Salar Jung Museum. Make a day trip to the Golconda Fort.)
>>From Kolkata: There’s Port Blair (there is a lot to do in the Andamans where history and natural beauty combine) and Kuala Lumpur (shopping options, a great night life, with awesome street food are excellent reasons to go there).
>>From Chennai: There’s Kochi (a visit to the Fort Kochi area is a must! And Pai’s dosas), Colombo (visit the serene Gangaramaya Buddhist Temple and take a breather at pretty Beira Lake. Spend some time at the National Museum and the Independence Memorial Hall), Singapore (a bit similar to KL, there will be lots of shopping options as well as street food. The ethnic hubs of Chinatown, Little India and Arab Street are must-visits) and Bangkok (Take the river cruise, visit the several monasteries and do not miss out on the White Marble Temple – it is stunning!).
7) The folks at Expedia, a holiday booking site, is offering a number of discounts that you could check out. According to its marketing head, Manmeet Ahluwalia, “Expedia is offering up to 50 per cent off on the long weekend for hotels in Goa, Rajasthan and Kerala and internationally to Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Singapore, Dubai, Vietnam.”So, checking out the offers here wouldn’t be a bad idea.
8) If you’ve decided on where you’re going then download a couple of apps that will help you decide what to do there. TripIt and ThrillCall are good options to check out what’s happening locally. Revv is a good app to look for cars on the go.