Have you ever shopped for woollens when the end-of-season discounts appear in March? Or postponed your purchase of a branded watch for a few months to wait for the annual sale?
You could do the same next time you plan a trip abroad. Over the next few months, for instance: The festive season may be the peak season for the Indian traveller, but it would be off-season in some other countries.
Off-season travel has become a trend among some travellers, especially the young and the retired, who want to see the world but don’t want to spend a fortune on travel. We list the pluses and minuses, and suggest five destinations.
Value for money: Off-season travel provides opportunities to journey at far more economical rates. The demand-supply logic works to your advantage and you get discounts on airfares and hotel tariffs—the two major expense heads. “Airfare and accommodation are cheaper by at least 25-30%, compared to the peak season,” says Sharat Dhall, managing director, TripAdvisor India, a travel search engine.
A search at irelandhotels shows you can book a double room at Grand Hotel, Malahide, Dublin, for €94 in mid-December, while you will have to pay €165 for the same room in mid-April, which is the peak season. Apart from lower tariffs, some hotels will offer you extra amenities such as added meals or discounts on food, or even free bus or cable car rides.
The same goes for airfares. “Airlines now have a system which adjusts fares automatically according to the season, instead of having a flat rate throughout the year. Since customers are hard to get, airlines offer discounts to draw passengers,” says Ashish Kishore, head of hotel and retail business Yatra.com, a travel portal.
All to yourself: “Travelling is not just about the money you spend, but also about the experience,” says Kishore. During the peak seasons, tourist spots are often too crowded for comfort. Off-season travel is for you if you love peace and quiet and want to enjoy the beauty of a place at your own pace. This translates into less rush, smaller queues at airports and museums and an easier visa process. You also get to mix a lot more with the locals.
Do it yourself: As not many people will be travelling, operators may not offer tour packages to many of these destinations. So you may need to make plans on your own.
Not so pleasant weather: “The weather can either be too hot or too cold or too rainy (that’s what really defines off-season),” says Dhall. So you need to pack accordingly and be ready for icy winds or heavy rain.
We are closed: Due to the weather or lack of visitors, you might have to miss out on a lot of stuff that you would have otherwise seen. If you are going to Switzerland in the off-season, you are likely to find some of the ski resorts shut. Cable car services may be closed for repairs.
However, big city attractions would be available throughout the year. Shorter days mean some of the tourist sites will close earlier.
The Internet has made research a lot easier. Go through the official tourism websites and read reviews by people who have already visited the place. Then plan the trip.
Scout around for the cheapest fares and hotels, and the most attractive deals. Some websites offer bigger discounts if you book hotels and air tickets together. Having done your homework, you will be in a position to set off on a great trip—at a price that does not pinch you.
Off-season months: Middle of September-December
Return airfare: Rs33,000-40,000*
Need to know:
• Weather can be damp and cold as December approaches
• Carry a lot of woollens. Shoes that can withstand water and snow are recommended
• Days are shorter. Most monuments may either be closed or stay open for shorter durations.
Off-season months: November-March
Return airfare: Rs36,000-45,000*
Need to know: • Daylight hours are fewer during winter
• Weather can be cold, rainy and windy. Take adequate warm clothing and rainwear
• Spectacular views might be elusive
• Some places might be closed.
Off-season months: October-November
Return airfare: Rs32,000-40,000*
Need to know:
• Weather will be cold, but not freezing. Ski resorts may be closed
• Public transport and restaurants can be expensive, so make your own meals
• Look for hotels that include breakfast
• Check for hotels that offer free bus, train and cable car rides.
Off-season months: November-March
Need to know:
• The weather can be windy, rainy and cold
• Pack warm clothes, scarves, gloves, rainwear and waterproof shoes
• Days are very short, start your day early. Check for closing times as some places close early.
Off-season months: September-November
Return airfare: Rs32,000-45,000*
Need to know:
• The climate varies from north to south. Monsoons are from May to October (north and south) and from September to January (centre)
• Carry rainwear and waterproof shoes
• Take precautions against mosquitoes.
*Airfare to and from capital cities per person
**Accommodation for two nights in two- or three-star hotels
With inputs from TripAdvisor destination experts
The views expressed here are not the newspaper’s opinion and are provided for information purposes only by Outlook Money. Readers are requested to do their own research. Neither Mint nor Outlook Money will be responsible for any actions and outcomes based on information provided here.
Your home loan eligibility is determined largely by your income and repayment capacity. Normally, banks assume that 40% of your household income is required for sustenance and the rest can be spared for various other obligations, including this loan. Say, your monthly household income is Rs50,000 and the sustenance expense is assumed to be Rs20,000. The other obligations are another Rs15000. So, savings would be Rs15,000 per month. For example, on a home loan of Rs1 lakh at 9% interest rate for 20 years, the EMI is about Rs900.
Home loan eligibility = monthly savings/EMI per lakhx10,0000 = 15,000/900x10,0000 = Rs16.67 lakh
NO ‘No objection certificate’; just change your MF agent
Did you know that if you want to change your mutual fund (MF) agent, you do not need a no-objection certificate (NoC) from your previous agent? Not many investors are aware of this, because mutual funds have been ignoring the advice given by the Association of Mutual Funds of India (Amfi) to avoid asking for NoCs. The reason for non-compliance is trail commission. Any switch of agents, and the first agent ceases to get this commission. So far, agents have been able to get away with this practice since Amfi’s advice is not binding on MFs.
Urgent money requirement? Take loan against assets
If you need money suddenly, you can take a loan against assets. There are mainly four assets that work as security:
• Car: You can get up to 80% of its value, but interest rates vary
• Financial papers: Shares, term deposits, Kisan Vikas Patras, national savings certificates, life insurance policies (not term covers) and bonds can be used to take loans. As a percentage of the value of the security, the loan will vary from 40% for shares and mutual funds, and can go up to 90% for fixed income papers
• Gold: It’s a quick option, especially for short-term needs. You can get up to 70% of the value at 12-13%. You can mortgage jewellery, bars and gold exchange-traded funds (ETFs)
• Property: You can mortgage your property (self-occupied residential or commercial property), if you haven’t put it up as security for any other purpose.
Childcare insurance policies, securing your child’s future
There are two kinds of childcare insurance policies:
• Endowment types: In this, the annual premiums are invested in different funds that are usually not declared. The repayments are made at crucial stages, from the age of 18 to 21 every year, with bonuses. The life of the parent as well as of the child is insured. In the event of the earning parent’s death, the policy continues; future premiums are waived and payments are made on maturity in addition to the payment of the sum assured
• Unit-linked plans: In this, the annual premiums are invested in different market-linked funds. The policy’s value is in units and its net asset value (NAV) is declared daily. The policy can be surrendered after the lock-in period, which is usually three years.
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