I am learning to travel less like an American and more globally as of late. You wouldn’t think so by the amount of luggage I take everywhere I go, but that is my father’s influence more than America’s! I am traveling globally by learning to rely less on American travel companies and more on regional ones.
The other day we were looking for flights to Nepal. We have to be out of India for a few days at the beginning of April due to Indian visa regulations, and I am set on seeing Everest before heading West if I can. From the capital, Kathmandu, you can take a 1-2 hour tourist flight,for photo taking and whatnot, around Everest for $150. That’s a deal for a once in a lifetime opportunity! Back to the flights to get there though. I often get frustrated with the primitive look of regional websites, and so I made my way over to the main American travel search sites. Just to see, for curiosity’s sake, what the prices were on the regional sites, the exact same flights were $100-200 cheaper through regional search engines! Then and there I was convinced that I need to leave American search engines for America and embrace our little regional ones!
Something similar happened when we were in the Maldives a few months back. Having hoped for the opportunity to travel to one of the most beautiful places on earth for years, we were always terrified by the outrageous cost of hotels. Some resorts start at $2K per night! When you search “Maldives hotels” you aren’t going to find your economy options, but the luxury resorts with underwater restaurants and ocean villas. Thanks to a regional website, we found a great hotel 1 street from the ocean for $60 a night! Oh, and that included breakfast and tea all day.
If you want to travel internationally on a budget and not stay in roach infested hostels, check out local search engines. The main ones that we use for this part of the world are listed below. If you are traveling elsewhere, do your research or call a local travel agency who can tell you the names of regional travel sites. They are certainly worth checking out before you spend more for the familiarity of American sites!
Indian/South Asian Travel Sites
Cleartrip – Used primarily for travel based in and out of India. This also has Indian railway tickets. Can be used for all surrounding countries as well.
Yatra – Similar to Cleartrip, but Cleartrip is my first preference
Agoda – Hotel bookings. You type in the city and it gives you some great deals!
Make My Trip – Flight and hotel bookings.
It is also worth looking into national airlines. India has several air lines that give great deals between major cities in the region. Booking directly from these airlines will often save you a bundle if you are having difficulty finding regional websites.
One other tip when looking to travel internationally, make Trip Advisor your friend. We have learned, sometimes the hard way, that stars and pictures lie when dealing with hotels. Trip Advisor will give you honest feedback from real customers. An added bonus is that the reviews tell where the person writing the review is from. This gives you an idea if other international travels have stayed at that particular hotel, or if the only person writing is from the same town, and might not have the perspective you are looking for.
*I also try to create a Pinterest board for anywhere we have been with good places to stay or eat, and things to do. Basically, if we have done it, or want to, it will be on those boards.
Here are a few more pictures of the Maldives’ airport and capitol in case the first wasn’t enough to convince you that you need to leave winter behind and travel on a budget there!