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Journalist, Author, Columnist. My Twitter handle: @seemagoswami

Friday, October 20, 2017

Save yourself!

A long weekend doesn't always need to result in a long, long, credit card bill

So, I missed seeing you last weekend. And what a long weekend it was! Between Navami, Dusshera and Gandhi Jayanti, you could take four days off to enjoy some downtime with family and friends. And I am guessing that there were many of you who grabbed the opportunity with both hands and took off for a mini-break, either in India or abroad.

Bangkok must have been a popular destination, given its proximity to India and all that scrumptious shopping and fabulous food. The wildlife resorts in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh would have been the choice of many young families, a chance for your children to see a tiger in the wild before the entire species is wiped off the earth. Some of you would have headed to the mountains to get away from the heat of the plains. Others would have hot-footed it to the beach to enjoy the sun, sand and sea.

But wherever you went, I am sure that you had a brilliant time. Your bank balance, though? Not so much. Between the price gouging that airlines indulge in during such times and the premium that hotels charge for periods of high occupancy, your savings account must be feeling rather sorry for itself.

If you are feeling a bit bankrupt as you sit down to read this, take comfort in the fact that you are not alone. There are millions of middle-class folk like you who are experiencing the same buyer remorse.

Don't despair though, as you brood about the credit card bill to come. Help is at hand. I am here to tell you about the many ways you can enjoy your next long weekend without busting your entire travel budget for the year. (And no, I am not going to bang on and on about how you should book your flights and hotels a year in advance because, honestly, which sane person does that?)

So, here, in no particular order of importance are my tips to enjoy a low-cost long weekend.

* Choose a destination that you can drive to. Not only will this help you save on airfare, the journey itself will become a fun break. Instead of queueing up for hours at an airport, disrobing down to your underwear at security (okay, I kid, but only just), sitting cooped up in a tiny seat while a blood clot travels through your arteries, and eating tasteless airline pap, you could be having an adventure on the road. You can play Carpool Karaoke with your kids as your favourite music blasts out load. You can snack on those delicious aloo parathas you packed for the journey. You can feast your eyes on an India you rarely ever see. And who knows, maybe your loved ones will finally be distracted from their mobile devices long enough to have an actual conversation with you. Or you can just enjoy the blissful silence with only your own thoughts to keep you entertained. It's a win-win, whichever way you look at it.

* If you're anything like me and long drives aren't really your thing, then might I suggest a staycation? This means that you don't even have to leave town. You can just choose a nice hotel in or around your city and move in. Yes, the hotel rates will still be steep given that it's a long weekend, but given that you are saving on airfare and other transportation costs (you can still use your car for instance, rather than pay for taxis) the cost won't be backbreaking. So, pack up your troubles and check in for a stress-free weekend where you don't have to fix your own breakfast or make your own bed. Carry your own liquor along, though. It will save you a fortune.

* The simplest solution, of course, is to just stay home. But only if you promise not to do boring things like catch up on your chores. This is not the time to clean out cupboards, vacuum carpets, or chuck out all the gunk that is cluttering the house. If you spend all your times doing mundane stuff like that, it will be a complete waste of a long weekend. And we don't want that, do we?
No, we don't. You should be taking this time to do all the stuff that brings you joy, but which you can't fit around your normal schedule. Try out those recipes from Nigella Lawson's new cookbook. Begin binge-watching a new Netflix series (I recommend Designated Survivor, if you haven't had the pleasure yet). Dive into all those new titles you have downloaded on your Kindle and not had the time to read. Get a therapist to come home and give you a massage or an manicure-pedicure. Invite friends and family over for a potluck supper. Or just enjoy your own company, listen to your own thoughts, commune with your own innermost feelings.

And while you're doing that, you can congratulate yourself about all the money you've just saved. You can, of course, thank me later.

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