Ever since I watched Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara, I added Spain to my bucket list. I have been craving to experience La Tomatina in Bunol and dance to Senorita, if not with Hrithik, at least with the Spanish natives.
But I am not a Wall Street professional like Hrithik’s character. I am an Indian 20-something private sector professional, who will need some extensive planning, financial and otherwise, to make Spain happen.
Luckily, I have chalked out a plan for my trip, which has all the essentials you need to keep in mind before and during the travel. In fact, I also intend to use the same financial strategy for any trip that I plan in the future.
The 3-step plan
Step 1: Decide on the places to visit and things to do
Step 2: Figure out how much will it cost me and what are the other necessary costs
Step 3: The financial plan for the trip
Step # 1: Places to visit
Let’s first focus on all the exciting things to do in España!
Barcelona – Day 1 & 2
I would like to start my trip with Barcelona. The city has so much to offer in terms of its modernista architecture and the street life. Apparently, Barcelona is just about the right size to be discovered on foot, or better yet, by a bicycle.
I would dedicate my second day to exploring museums and heritage sites in the city. By now I would have had a taste of the Spanish art and architecture, so I would like to chill a little. I would hit the next pub I spot and then head to Tablao Cordobes – Barcelona’s famous Flamenco destination! You can make your bookings online and tap to the beats of the exhilarating dance form.
My next destination would be Madrid. I prefer trains to buses, to save the travel time and to enjoy the scenic views. You may however, choose your preferred mode of transport.
Madrid – Day 3 & 4
Madrid is rich when it comes to historic attractions, entertainment, and cuisines. Like many capital cities, Madrid has a combination of historical and contemporary architecture. Make sure you get a glimpse of the Madrid’s Royal Palace as well as The Paseo de la Castellana, Madrid’s financial centre. Madrid’s Art Triangle is a must for every visitor. Explore the Museo del Prado (natural science), Reina Sofia (art museum) and Thyssen-Bornemisza (Western art history).
After soaking in the cultural depth of the Spanish, you are now ready to get a bird-eye view of the place. Take a walk to the Círculo de Bellas Artes and view the skyline of Madrid.
Seville – Day 5 & 6
My next stop would be Seville. I plan to take a bus or a train (Rs. 5,000) to Seville from Madrid. Start my day with Real Plaza de Toros. This is Seville’s very own bull fighting ring and has a related museum. The bullfight season ranges from the Easter Sunday in March to October 12th. I suggest making the entire trip in August, as the Tomatina festival happens on August 30th every year. A bull fight viewing can cost you about Rs. 5,000. After all these fun activities, if you have the time, do check out Alhambra Palace, a vision in itself and a must-see for all tourists.
Step # 2: Figure out how much will it cost me
Money Required in Spain:
- Accommodation cost in the 3 cities: On an average, Rs. 75,000 (depending on choosing services such as Airbnb or budget hotels)
- Food and shopping: Rs. 50,000
- Intra-city travel: Rs. 50,000
Money required to get to Spain:
- Return tickets: Rs.45,000 – Rs.60,000. There are many airlines to choose from, with some providing a good deal. I am assuming that I will have to shell out close to Rs. 45,000 for this, provided I book in advance.
- Visa application fee: Rs. 6,000 I need to acquire a Schengen visa. There are a number of documents required to obtain it – you can find the list here. You can go to any of the Visa Forwarding Service (VFS) centres around the country, carrying the required documents and if you apply during the off-season, February to August, you are likely to get the visa within 15 working days. I will need a Short Term Visa which should cost Rs. 5,851.
- Travel Insurance: Rs. 8,000 Acquiring the Visa needs travel insurance, which should cost Rs. 8,000 and cover damages of up to $50,000.
Total Target Amount Required: Rs. 2,49,000/-
Step # 3: The Financial Plan
- How much should I save each month?For goals such as these, the time I need to save the required amount depends on how much I can save each month. Based on my salary and savings rate I can manage to save about Rs. 8000 each month for the trip.
- How many years should I save for?In 3 years, I can save more than the required amount which amounts to about Rs. 2.88 lakhs.
- Where to save and invest this amount?Considering the period involved is less than five years, a short-term debt fund would be a good choice as I can gain the benefit of higher returns compared to my bank account. If my debt fund generates 8% returns, I can accumulate up to Rs. 3.25 Lakh. The idea behind saving more than the actual trip costs, is to take into account inflation and possible currency fluctuations. So while the planned expenses are Rs. 2.5 lakh, I have a buffer of Rs. 75, 000 for the unexpected.
Pro tip: If you can wait for one more year, you can avail indexation benefits on your first year’s investments and pay much less tax on gains.
Keeping in mind that the money you invest today, will grow by the time you withdraw, here’s a table that can help you organize the withdrawal process.
How to withdraw the money required
Backpacking has its own charm. Planning everything in advance, nevertheless, helps you save a lot of last-minute spikes in prices. Book travel tickets 3 to 6 months in advance, and apply for your visa early to avoid peak season rush.
While booking accommodation, make sure you have evaluated all the available options and choose one that provides you maximum value for your hard-saved money. You must always spend more on traveling and seeing the attractions of a city, instead of spending too much on your stay, especially if you only go there to crash at night.
Managing this planning and saving can be cumbersome and taxing. There are plenty of free and efficient apps available online to make and merge your itineraries for a trip and keep them consolidated in one place. So start saving up for the trip of a lifetime!