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Planning a trip this festive season at the last minute? Here are some hacks to save money

As festivals approach, so do the woes of making last-minute travel plans. From flight bookings to hotel reservations, travel plans are best made in advance. Having said that, it may not always be possible to plan a trip early, or when you are in a financially comfortable position. A sudden social or family gathering, or an unexpected holiday can call for a spontaneous trip. And this may turn out to be financially challenging if you don’t have disposable funds.

Here are a few hacks that can help you travel at the last minute a little more cost-effectively.

Travel on the day of the festival

Most people try to reach home/travel destinations the day before the festival or the weekend before. Ticket rates are typically high on these days because of the rush. So try booking your travel tickets on the day of the festival to get them for cheaper. Also avoid flying in to major cities on Monday mornings and flying out on Friday evenings as the rush of business travelers at those times causes a spike in the rates. Sign up for price drop notifications with flight aggregators/ search engines to get information you can use.

Use flight map apps to pick cheaper destinations

Use flight map apps to compare flight rates to airports near your destination. It might be cost-effective to fly to an airport a few hours away from the location and then rent a cab from there. If you haven’t set your mind on a specific destination, you can key in the kind of destination you are interested in such as ‘a beach destination’, and then look for flights to the most economical locale.

Use that credit card

Use credit cards to book your air tickets, hotels and to make other purchases to earn discounts and cashbacks. While you get to purchase first and pay later, credit cards allow you an interest-free period of up to 55 days. You can use this time to arrange for funds. In case, you are unable to pay the bill entirely before the due date, you can pay it off in the coming bill cycle. Interest will be applicable only on the outstanding balance. You can also convert the dues into EMIs.

Take a personal loan

Still short of funds? Don’t dig into your long-term investments unless they are redeemable. Instead take a personal loan, which is easier to get and requires no collateral. This prevents you from having to put your home or other valuables on the line to get a loan. You can convert the loan amount into a prepaid card, debit card, traveler’s cheque etc. The interest rate ranges between 11 and 20 per cent annually.

Use schemes offered by travel operators

Some travel operators allow you to travel first and pay after you are back. These travel operators finance through tie-ups with non-banking financial corporations and financial institutions. And the schemes finance up trips that cost up to Rs 5 lakh, and include tickets, sightseeing, food, and accommodation. The repayment period can be between one to five years. The interest rate ranges between 11 and 20 per cent annually, similar to that of a personal loan.

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