High-end is out, and budget travel is back in favour with Coimbatoreans

Africa or Antartica, Machu Pichu or Melbourne… That was last year. But Coimbatoreans, caught in the throes of recession, are looking at more inexpensive ways to holiday this summer. Many of them continue to go abroad. But, high-end, customised tours have drastically come down, say tour operators.

Instead, group tours, where travellers stick to a schedule and tick names off their to-see list, have become very popular. They seem to prefer ‘predicable’ destinations where they can experience a new culture but in the midst of familiar people, language and food, says a tour operator. It is the younger travellers who want to go off the beaten track, to places with no network access, and where luxury is defined as waking up to a sun rise over the mountains, rather than waking up on an uber-soft mattress.

April used to be a busy month for travel agents, who worked without a break, constantly looked up new destinations and offered bespoke packages. Couples came in asking for adventure trips, with bungee jumping and parasailing thrown in. But, this year has been very average, says a travel agent.

New hotspots

Austerity is in. So, are the value-for-money mid-level destinations within the country and abroad. Singapore and Sri Lanka, which were budget travellers’ delight, have taken a backseat. The new hotspots are Turkey, Greece and West Asia, says Tony Nayagam of Aloha Travels. Within the country, the Andamans, with its turquoise waters and near-white beaches, is back in favour, even though the airfare is expensive.

Nirupa Raj, manager, Ashok Travels, says a surprise destination this year is the U.S. People opted for a week-long sightseeing package (New York, Washington and Niagara) in the U.S. They managed to buy reasonably inexpensive tickets, and stayed with relatives. “This way, they cut costs on hotels, and still managed a U.S. holiday,” she says.

At home, Kerala, Mysore and Coorg are popular, says Y. Nagarajan, branch manager, Pricol Travel. Those with a slightly higher budget head to Kashmir or Ladakh where the weather is great right now.

Some travel companies offer offbeat journeys where holidayers can stay with villagers, share their meals and experience their tough but beautiful lives. Such trips are most unusual, leave you with priceless memories and are yet within your budget.

Rural rhapsody

Breakaway offers city slickers a chance to experience rural life, with its farm tours. These trips can cost anywhere between Rs. 3,500 and Rs. 6,000 per person for a night. These are quieter getaways and ideal for families and group tours. The rate includes accommodation, food and some farm activities.

High on the hill

Kalap is a village in the upper Garhwal village region of Uttarakhand.

Head there for a holiday among pine and deodar forests. Kalap offers two packages to the village — the three night-four day Kalap Experience for Rs. 14,000 (plus taxes) or a six night-seven day Nomad Trail (on till June 15 this summer) for Rs. 28,000 plus taxes. In the latter, you travel with the shepherds to high-altitude grasslands.

The charges are inclusive of accommodation, food, trekking and porters. For details, e-mail visitkalap@gmail.com.

Travel Tips

- Stay in state-run hotels.

- Opt for B&Bs during your holidays abroad

- Fly low-cost airlines