For those who are new to traveling in India, might consider planning a trip in the country as a herculean task. An industry that was once ruled by travel agents and tour guides, has now evolved dramatically with DIY digital platforms and apps – making trip planning not only easier, but also cheaper.
Booking your own commute, accommodations and navigating a new a city yourself has completely cut the so-called agent cost, making travel much user-friendly in the country, with a lesser chance of been ripped off your pocket with not-so-worthy tour packages. Not to forget that it has also become much faster to book yourself in India with the whole digital revolution pushing in.
But on the hindsight – with a plethora of options to choose from, hundreds of online portals, and thousands of possibilities, there’s a serious need for some streamlined process to plan a trip. Here is Team StreetTrotter’s step-by-step guide of must-have platforms for traveling smart in India:
#1 – Booking a flight:
The process of booking flights needs a lot of specifications to be taken care of. Apps like Make My Trip and Yatra.com make this a lot easier by having a comparative display of the available flights. The upper bar has a graph that keeps showing how prices go up and down on different dates so you don’t have to keep switching pages.These apps offer frequent updates on confirmations, timings and notifications on SMS and e-mail, and constant flight statuses are also available. The process of cancellation on these apps is also very easy – sometimes with or without a cancellation fees.
#2 – Booking a Bus:
The Redbus.in website has really been the best and the most effective way of booking your way around buses in India these days. On this app/website, buses to and from most destinations are available. It offers a series of cash-backs and discounts, and one can easily rate their rides to make choosing easier for future travelers.The app itself is easy to use and and there is a big range of buses for the same journey to pick from, be it a tourism board bus or a private bus – local or luxury. You also have a choice to filter your results on the basis of pick and drop locations, timings, facilities, ratings and number of stops. The app also sends tickets on SMS and e-mail.
#3 – Booking a train ticket:
There would be hardly any traveler in India who wouldn’t have ventured on the IRCTC site once in a while for train bookings. The website has recently improved its booking interface with faster service and more options. On this government run website, you can select from a number of trains for the same journey, choose the class or compartment you’d like to travel in and occasionally book a meal.One minor drawback of the site is that if there are no direct trains between two destinations, the site just displays a “no trains available” message and does not suggest any options of change.
#4 – Booking a Cab
UBER India and OLA are without doubt two of the most useful apps in these times of fast travel, not just for travelers but also for general quick/cheaper travel options. The app operations are easy and with numerous offers and discounts time to time. There are many different kinds of rides to choose from, on the basis of fare, size of the vehicle required, or duration. You can also pool your ride with a fellow traveler. On these apps, you can leave your rating after every ride and every time you’re booking a ride you can see the average rating of the driver.
One slight drawback is that these apps don’t have a specific customer care number that one can call in case of an emergency. Complaints and suggestions operate on mail.
#5 – Booking a Hotel/Accommodation:
When booking hotels or any sort of accommodation, Booking.com is one of the most effective ways to do that recently. It’s fast; has millions of stay options to choose from, and filterable results on a range of criteria. The site provides easy bookings, pay at property options, cash rewards, occasional discounts and a chance for comparative selection.GoIbibo and Trivago are other similar platforms and they also offer more or less the same services.
#6 – Booking a budget Hostel:
If you are traveling on a budget, hostels are the new cool options for a great stay and are pretty fun to be at. You can interact with fellow dorm mates and know much more about a place than you’d get to know otherwise. Hostels usually have an included breakfast and a beautiful common room and options in the dorm sizes etc.From personal experience – the GoStops chain, Moustache, and Zostel are some great options for a trusted hostel stay around India.
#7 – Keeping all reservations/itinerary in one place:
The Google trips app is a very handy thing to have when you plan a trip – so one can get free from the hassle of finding booking conformations or tickets time and again. This app automatically accesses all your bookings sent to your gmail account and organizes them in one place under separate heads. It also suggests day plans for you, by nearby places’ reviews and ratings.Local suggestions and tips also can be seen on the app and one can utilize their day accordingly. The app also offers offline access so that Internet connection does not hinder your accessibility to bookings and plans – especially an easy access to all your flight details and PNR numbers in case of emergency.
#8 – Navigating in a new city:
When out in a new place, with no idea of the place whatsoever, Google maps can really be a handy tool. The app shows the fastest routes to go around a place, shows estimated traffic, and shows ways according to different mediums of travel. The best part of the app is that you can also download offline maps in advance to destinations which you know will have network and connectivity issues.The app can also be connected to OLA and UBER very easily and you can directly book cabs after estimating the distance. Also, you can set reminders on the app to leave on time for a destination that you’d have searched.
#9 – No cash? Making payments digitally:
One of the most widely accepted modes of payment in India these days after cash and card is paytm transfers. It’s easy, fast, and once you add money to your paytm wallet from your bank account, you can just ask for the number or code of anyone you have to pay, and you can send the money instantly. Cashless transactions are much preferred these days in India and are much safer too while traveling. Also, because of it being a multi-functional app, through paytm you can do quick phone recharges, book movie tickets and can also book flights, buses and trains and avail a lot of discount on some basic shopping.
#10 – Picky about food? Where to eat:
Wherever you are, Zomato shows you all the places to eat near you and you can order food for yourself on the go or book a table on any of the featured restaurants. The app has a lot of discount offers and with the constantly increasing ratings and reviews, you can pick your places better.The app also suggests the estimate cost of eating at a place for the number of people you’ve specified or two by default. This app operates in many other countries including Australia, UK, US, Canada, Singapore and others. TripAdvisor is a similar platform that provides platforms for reviews and ratings of places near you.
#11 – Going dutch? Split your cash quickly:
When traveling with a group, sometimes it becomes one big task to keep splitting bills and payments. The Splitwise app does all the math for you and, in a group, keeps individual record of how much money each person owes another. It keeps the travel hassle free and every ones finance is accurately taken care of.So, go ahead and get your hands on all these apps before your next trip and take the adventure up a notch. And if you are looking for more – check out this post for more handy apps while you travel.