You have read those articles a thousand times – 10 Things to do in Goa, 15 Secret Beaches in Goa, 25 Awesome Things to do in Goa.
Yet all those articles are written keeping Siddharth Mallya in mind – someone who can make chai by burning a few extra 500 rupee notes from his wallet.
In reality, there is nothing offered to people like you and me – the perennially broke, ever-desiring wanderer. For let’s face it, all of us are broke in our lives. The degree might vary – from first world to third world problems – but deep within, we are all scrounging up ways to save money.
And then there is Goa. Goa is awesome if you are loaded. Or if you are white-skinned. However, if you’re an Indian, and have to do a silent prayer to the Almighty everytime you look into your wallet, Goa is cruel towards you.
Goa squeezes out all you’ve got, making you feel like a battering ram on the day you return home. Most often, the first few weeks after a Goa trip are sent in sanyasi mode – having chai instead of coffee, and samosa instead of sandwiches.
There is some amount of personal sacrifice we all go through every time we visit Goa.
But all that is going to change now. Here’s the ultimate guide to having a good time in Goa without burning a hole in your pocket, or having to sell your mother’s wedding jewellery. Read on, and make merry!
1. Find Shacks and Tent Houses
Most travellers make too much fuss about where to stay in Goa. And after hours of indecisive browsing, they select a place that charges them one kidney for three days and two nights.
You should avoid such traps. Most of our time is spent outdoors anyway. Goa has a huge number of shacks and tent houses right on the beaches. Some of them charge as low as 300 rupees a night, and are located right on the beach, with a shack attached to them for food and drinks. You might have to walk around and search for a bit, but every single beach in Goa will have these shacks.
2. Do not book hotels online
If you are Bill Gates and cannot stay in beach shacks, and absolutely have to stay in a hotel, don’t make the mistake of booking hotels online. Unknown to you, Google analytics and SEO are playing their part. Do this as an experiment – go to any travel website and click on a particular hotel. In a few hours, you’ll find the prices shooting up like your blood pressure.
Most hotels quote higher prices and lower rooms available when you book online. So get off your ass, hire a bike, and do the rounds of hotels in the beach you want to stay at. You’ll save a lot of money.
3. Buy Your Own Booze
This is another neat little secret I learnt after spending months eating chai-samosa.
Most people rush to Goa with the knowledge that booze is cheap over there. Yet they order booze from shacks and hotels, who duly charge them more than what they’d have paid for at home. In order to avoid this trap, the day you arrive in Goa, buy your own booze. I have a ritual of waking up in the morning and trudging off to the nearest liquor store to buy my daily rations. You won’t believe the amount of money you could save with this small trick. Carry your booze around, and sip on it every time you feel the need. If you’re a smoker, look for Goa’s own Win cigarettes. They are light, and won’t burn a hole in your pocket (can’t say the same about your lungs, though!
4. Eat cheap
Have you ever noticed the difference between an Indian’s plate and a foreigner’s plate in Goa? Most foreigners order a sandwich/salad and that’s it. We Indians somehow end up ordering two starters, three drinks, a main course, and dessert – even while chilling on a shack!
And most of the food we order in shacks are the same kind of food we eat at home – chicken and paneer and pasta. The next time you travel to Goa, eat cheap. Look for hotels that the locals eat in. Try out Goan cuisine in smaller hotels – they have amazing rice and fish meals that will give you an insight into the local cuisine and culture. Also, fuck Paneer Butter Masala!
5. Try local liquor brands.
Let’s face it. We all thought Vijay Mallya was cool at some point of our lives. Then, the news of his airlines came out, and now he is simply uncool. And yet, all of us continue adding to his coffers by drinking the same drinks – Kingfisher and Tuborg and Blenders Pride.
The next time you are in Goa, try out some local Goan brands. There is one called Cabo, a rip-off of Malibu, that costs about 400 bucks a bottle. Another called Voodoo, a drink with 98% similarity to Bailleys Irish Cream. I always make it a point to carry a bottle of Cabo with me in Goa. And every time the waiter asks me what I’d like to order, I smile at him like Jesus Christ!
6. Hit the right parties, look out for posters
Instead of the done and dusted clubs at Baga and Anjuna, keep your eyes and ears open. There are an amazing number of hidden parties that happen on weekends in Goa. You’ll find posters stuck on trees, by the side of shacks, or on your way to the beaches. Try out these parties.
They generally are less noisy and crowded, and you won’t get molested by a bouncer while entering. Also, most of these parties have no cover charge at all, so you can party your ass off without donating your organs!
7. Avoid the popular beaches
Google will keep suggesting Baga and Anjuna to you, because that’s where the major businesses are. But you need to bring out the explorer in you. The next time you travel, look up lesser known beaches – Morjem, Vagator, Calangute – all of them offer amazing places for one-third the prices that you get in Baga and Anjuna.
8. Use the internet wisely
It is a known fact that the internet offers more than just porn – use it wisely. If you are travelling with your family/partner/children, and are scared off coming across as a cheapo, hunt around in internet forums for deals and offers. A lot of websites offer discounts, coupons and deals that are waiting to be taken. Spend your post-work hours wisely, and scoop up as many deals as you can.
So there you have it folks! Use the above tricks and you can travel to Goa even on a shoe-string chappal-flap budget.
Once you have saved all the money using the above tricks, do remember to send me some money as commission. For what can one do, we are all looking to make our cut in life!!!
Have a fun trip!