Himachal Pradesh is a haven for solo & budget travellers from all over the world. Every year, thousands of tourists visit Himachal Pradesh. Himachal Pradesh is full of possibilities for budget travellers, backpackers and explorers. From camping in the outdoors to cooking at community kitchens, from volunteering in a school to hitchhiking your way across Himachal Pradesh, you can always save a little extra cash- cut down on three primary travel costs, save as much as you can on accommodation, internal transport and food. Whether you travel solo or travel with your partner, saving money on the three key elements (stay, meals and travel) is possible with a few tweaks in your plan. Adopting simple changes such as the timing of the bus, the date of your travel, or the mode of travel will reduce your budget substantially.
This article is a compilation of conventional and unconventional ways to save money on your trip to Himachal Pradesh. Keep reading if you want to plan a budget trip (solo or as a couple) to Himachal Pradesh.
How to save money on your trip to Himachal Pradesh as a solo traveller
How to save money on accommodation in Himachal Pradesh
Book your stay in Hostels
Travellers Hostels are cheap, clean and convenient for solo travellers. Though hostel culture in India is still evolving, Himachal Pradesh has the most backpacker hostels in the country. You can get a bed for as cheap as 200 INR per night. Some of the most popular destinations for backpackers and solo-travellers are Manali, Kasol, Mcleodganj, Bir, Tirthan and Jibhi. Some of the top hostel chains in India are Zostel, GoStops, Hosteller, YHAI and Backpacker Panda. Plenty of other options are available in Himachal Pradesh. It is best to book offline to get a good deal.
Look for Volunteer travel opportunities
Volunteer travel is a barter of skills to help the local community, business, and/or hostels, in exchange for food/accommodation or both. Himachal Pradesh is full of volunteering opportunities, from teaching to farming, and waste management to animal rescue. Finding volunteering opportunities in Himachal Pradesh is very straightforward. A simple google search will give you the list of organisations looking for volunteers. The process for applying is simple, and the chances of getting selected are high.
You can reach out to the following organisations for long-term and short-term opportunities.
You can find various other smaller organizations after reaching Himachal Pradesh. If you want to look for opportunities online, check out volunteer portals such as Workaway and Gooverseas. If you’re staying in a hostel, it is likely that they have volunteer programs at their property. Check it at the property or on their website.
Pitch a tent wherever possible
There are dedicated camping spaces near all the major cities in Himachal Pradesh. You can find a campsite close to the main town and a water source. You can also reach out to hotels and homestays to let you pitch your tent in their garden or terrace. They will let you pitch your tent and give you access to the washroom for a minimal price.
How to save money on Food in Himachal Pradesh
Prepare one meal at home
You can save a lot of money by preparing one meal of the day at home. Making breakfast and coffee/tea at home is a great way to cut down on cost. Most hostels, homestays and Airbnbs come with a kitchenette. A community kitchen is another way of saving money on food. Community kitchen is a concept among hostellers, where backpackers living at the property cook the meal together. It is not only cost-effective but also a submerging experience of the world cultures & cuisines.
Eat at local diners
Cafes, restaurants and speciality-cuisine joints are pricey. Look for the local diners and small restaurants in your town. Explore where the locals go. Eating at local diners enhances the essence of travel and exploration. The food is affordable and healthy; the hosts are welcoming and the food is cooked with love.
Share a meal
Sharing a meal reduces the food expense by almost 40 per cent. The meals served in most restaurants are curated for two people. Look for cafes and restaurants with sizable meals to cut down on the food cost.
Ask for monthly plans at the restaurant
If you have a go-to in the town after a couple of days, ask if the restaurant can provide monthly meal plans. Small cafes and restaurants are open to these ideas. Inquire at multiple cafes you like and see how you can work it out with them. You can also get customised meals to save money.
How to save money on commute/travel in Himachal Pradesh
Use Public Transport
Public transport is the best way to explore Himachal Pradesh. It is not only cheap but also safe for solo travellers. All places in Himachal Pradesh are well-connected by the state-run HRTC buses. Sometimes, it is hard to find a direct bus from smaller towns, in such cases, look for connecting buses.
Travel at night
Plan your transitory journeys during the night to save money, time and resources. Travelling at night has multiple benefits. The night flights are cheaper and it will save your accommodation cost for the night. If you’re travelling on a bus, it is easier to get a better seat at night.
Having flexible dates is another way to save money. Find the convenient trains, buses, or flights to your destination city and check the schedule.
Rent a scooter to travel around
Taxis are expensive across Himachal Pradesh. If you want to travel around, renting a scooter/bike is a very feasible option for two people. Rent the scooter for a longer period, a week or a month, to get a cheaper deal. The price ranges from 200INR to 800INR, depending on the location and condition of the bike.
Scooter/Bike also gives you a lot more mobility than public transport. The fuel cost per month depends on your plans. The average cost of fuel for local travel is 150INR per week.
Do your research beforehand
Research is very essential for planning a budget trip. Do your research before booking flights/buses online. Check for the cheapest rates, discounts, and connecting transit options. Make sure to check the frequency of the connecting bus before you book. Read blogs and articles to find out more about the prices and cost of living in that town. This gives you an idea of what is the right price and how to negotiate.
Check for discounts & coupons before booking
Before booking your flights or buses, check multiple websites for discounts and coupons. There are special websites to check all the available discount codes across multiple websites.
Another less-comfortable but more fun way of travelling across Himachal Pradesh is hitchhiking. Himachal Pradesh is probably the only place in India where it is safe, fun and possible. Hitchhiking is a special, lesser-known way of travelling around in India and an experience of a lifetime.
Tips to plan a one-month trip to Himachal
How to save money on accommodation in Himachal Pradesh
Book accommodation offline
There are very few online portals that offer monthly deals. In Himachal Pradesh, there are homestays, guest houses and hotels everywhere. It is likely that the owner will quote a very affordable price for long stays. Contact properties directly, explain your requirements and get a reasonable deal. If you want to be on the safer side, book a backup stay for the first couple of nights.
Stay in Homestays instead of hotels
Homestays are designed for long-stays and offer a homely experience to travellers. They are cheaper, more comfortable and more experiential than hotels.
Find a stay away from the city centre
Accommodation near the city centre or near the major attractions is on the costlier side. Find a stay away from the main city to save cost and avoid the bustle of the city.
Travel during off-season
Everything is expensive during the peak season in Himachal Pradesh. Summer and spring are the most crowded and the costliest months to travel almost throughout Himachal Pradesh. Ideally, plan a trip between September- November. The weather is pleasant everywhere and the peak season is receding.
With warm & hospitable people, magnificent mountains ranges & deep valleys, majestic rivers & lakes, vibrant culture & diverse heritage, Himachal Pradesh is one of the most surreal places for all types of travellers. Himachal Pradesh has always welcomed long-term, budget and solo travellers with love and offered countless options to make it possible.
Budget hostels to small cafes, cheap public transport to multiple travel modes, there are several options for budget travellers in Himachal Pradesh.
A budget trip is often more than just about saving money. It is a journey of exhilaration, thrill and adventure. Be it a solo voyage or exploration with your partner, Himachal Pradesh, is your place to plan an exceptional budget trip.