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Monday, January 16, 2017

Why you should travel more post demonetisation?

Demonetisation! This has been the buzzword in India for the last 2 months and it still continues to have good impact on the people of this country. This article is not about ‘Demonetisation’ in itself, but the impact it has had on the travel industry and how it has affected travelers like you and me. I made 3 trips post demonetisation, 1 family trip, 1 holiday and 1 work trip. During these trips, I did grapple with the demonetisation effect, but I also figured out that this was possibly the best time to be traveling, if you prepare and plan well. Well, these are the reasons why I suggest traveling more post the demonetisation era.

Why Travel More?

1) Easy to get Train Tickets

Attractive domestic Travel post Demonetisation

Even though Indian Railways has the largest rail network in the world, I have always found it difficult to get reservation tickets on the normal mode and not tatkal mode. However, post the demonetisation, things seem to be super different. I took 6 different trains (from premium to regular) during the peak Christmas – New Year holiday season and booked myself normal tickets on all of them. In fact, I was surprised to find tickets available on many classes on most trains. If you love train journeys in India, you will not find a better time to book your tickets.

2) Smaller Crowds

As a frequent traveler, I have to weave my way through crowds almost always and I don’t like it one wee bit. Nowadays, post the demonetisation, airports, train stations, bus stations and popular tourist attractions and destinations are seeing much smaller crowds. This means shorter queues at the airport and fewer people at the tourist destination. Personally, I am loving it. While everybody is sitting at home and mulling about the effect of demonetisation, this might be the best opportunity for you to enjoy quiet travels.

3) Raining Discounts


The entire hospitality industry has taken a beating post demonetisation. While the luxury hotels have seen the biggest drop in occupancy, even 3 star hotels have seen a 15 to 25% drop. This has led to hotels throwing in huge cash discounts or giving more freebies. Likewise with airlines, tour operators and travel agencies. This might be the time to get your travel bucket list into action as the load on your bank account will be the lowest.

4) Just Spend as a regular Tourist and do Social Service

The common man who survives on a cash economy suffered quite a bit post demonetisation. I am talking auto rickshaw drivers, taxi drivers, tour guides, street hawkers, small restaurants, trinket shops and many more. Even good, honest people saw tough days. As a traveler, we have the opportunity to avail their services and help alleviate some of their financial suffering. It is easier to go into a place that accepts digital money, but I would happily pay cash to add an ounce of joy to someone’s life. Social Service has never been easier.

5) Overcharging has come down

Overcharging is quite the norm in India’s tourist circles. I am sure all domestic travelers have experienced this at some time or the other. However, post the demonetisation effect, overcharging has reduced by leaps and bounds in the tourist circles. As a lot of people are struggling for steady cash based income, they have resorted to living a honest life and charging a fair fee. I saw and felt this almost everywhere right from auto and taxi drivers to souvenir shops, street hawkers and other people living on cash based income.

6) No Need to Break the Ice. Just utter the word demonetisation

Are you a shy person who doesn’t know how to break the ice? Well, all you have to do these days is utter the word ‘demonetisation’ and voila the conversation begins. Demonetisation is such a hot topic these days that everyone seems to be interested in it and want to say something about it. Whether you are in a plane, a train, a bus, a car, an auto rickshaw, in a restaurant or any public place, you are not too far away from a fun discussion. Such discussions are a great way to get closer to the local way of living and adds a special experience to your holiday.

How to Avoid Pain Points

1) Carry enough cash to last you the entire trip

I learnt this the hard way when I traveled to my village right after the demonetisation announcement and did not find a single working ATM for 5 days. On my next couple of trips, I did find working ATMs, but either the withdrawable amount was too low, the queues were too long or there was no money.

To take my money, I did not stand in queues at my bank as I find it atrocious to stand in queue to take out my hard earned money. Rather, I studied cash loading behaviors at ATMs near my home and withdrew cash when there were no people around.

Irrespective of the trick you opt for, do have enough cash in hand when you are traveling, especially if you are traveling deep into the country or into the rural side, which is still grappling with paucity of cash, unlike the larger cities where things have gotten better.

2) Foreign Travelers – Come Prepared with Enough Rupees

It is a shame that foreign travelers to India have to bear the brunt of India’s demonetisation. Newspapers carried articles where European tourists danced on the streets to pay for their food and boarding after finding it difficult to exchange their money or withdraw money from ATMs. I experienced this personally when my French friend who was traveling with me struggled to get her money exchanged. We went to the head office of State Bank of India in Jaipur to exchange her Euros and we were told that they were out of cash. Most of the ATMs we tried were out of cash. Airport forex counters had strict limits. And when we did manage to exchange the forex, we got poor exchange rates. Thankfully for my friend, I was carrying enough cash and hence we tided over the problems.

If you are a foreign national planning to travel in India, do keep enough Rupees with you in person and enough foreign currency to handle all kinds of emergencies. If you have a local friend, transfer money to their bank accounts and request them to withdraw cash for you. This will give you the best currency conversion rate. There are bank branches and ATMs specially assigned for foreign travelers. Keep track of them and you might not have to stand in long queues.



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