Budget Travel: Fort Williams & Isle of Skye

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Last month me & my hubby went for a 9 days trip to Highlands & Isle of Skye. It was one of those most awaited trips of the year, and being the summer season a hot favourite destination for many tourists and travellers like us. Being Scotland and famous for it’s weather, everyone wants to enjoy the sunny days and as the forecast changes people plan their holiday to this majestic land. Lodging becomes expensive, infact in many cases you will not be able to book one as the cheaper ones will be booked out a long time ago.

Travelling does not have to be expensive if you are flexible and plan well in advance. I will say planning Well in Advance adds more fun to your most awaiting trip. Of course we can always have unexpected expenses in our travel.

We had an awesome trip in Skye and fort williams with an expense of £250 per person that included our food, lodging in camps, travelling and sight seeing for 9 days. Hereby I am sharing with fellow readers my budget details for the trip.

PS: Our trip included more of hiking, walking and enjoying the serenity around. Our aim was to soak the beauty around and live in the nature. We camped in the beautiful valleys of Scotland.

How to get Around: There is public transport available, but it is not so frequent as population around Fort Williams and Isle of Skye is not very dense. It is a good idea to rent a car to get around these islands. I am not sure the cost of renting a car because we had our own so we had expenses only for fuel. We visited Fort Williams in Highlands and Glenbrittle, Aird of Sleat, Elgol, Dunvegan, Portree in Isle of Skye. Travelling from one place to another is not time consuming while on Isle. It is a small island, and it will not take more than 45 mins to go from one town to another.

Accommodation: One of the best part of camping in Scotland is that you can camp for free in various places. And Yes believe me you can camp in some of the most beautiful foothills, into the woodlands, near to a lake or may be in a field next to a quiet road. We wild camped in Isle of Skye for two days near the foothills of Black Cuillins. It was the most beautiful place I have stayed in during any trip. We stayed at two beautiful campsites:

Glen Nevis Holidays – You can not imagine a site better than this in fort williams, right at the foothills of Ben Nevis (Britains Highest Mountain). Ideal location for hikers or walkers. Clean toilets, washing area, bathrooms and a food cart shop in the site. Link- http://www.glen-nevis.co.uk/ – £10/night pp.

Glenbrittle Campsite – Another most beautiful site, I have never stayed in a campsite beautiful than this one. For those who are not willing for wild camping yet, this is an ideal site to get the taste of it. Link – http://www.dunvegancastle.com/content/?page=s20 – £8/night pp.

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Food- After lodging the next big money saver is Food. For a camping trip or self catering trip, try to pack as much as you can back from home. You can always buy milk, bread or fruits from a local store. But most of the food you can pick up from your home itself instead of buying new packets for the trip. Believe me packing up spices, sugar, tea/coffee, jams, biscuits, energy bars, cereals, ready to eat food packets, snacks to nibble on, cling film or air tight packed for sandviches so that you can carry your lunch along with you as well. Read to eat packets will save you some money on stove fuel as well. So pack food according to your needs and carry it along.

Sight Seeings: We walked around to see places. For rainy days we kept some distillery and brewery, castles on the list as well. Well these are the places worth spending money on instead of an expensive hotel or a restaurant. I have already written my posts on various places I visited while in Scotland, please go through the Scotland page from drop down menu. Walk, Cycle or Drive – You have lots of place to explore and discover. I am going back to Highlands and Skye next summer.

Elgol Lake Shore

Elgol Lake Shore

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PLAN IN ADVANCE, summer is popular, lots of people want to go there, and everyone is planning same things, you would not want to miss anything from your list.

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Budget Travel: Dalhousie

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“When one is travelling, one must expect to spend a certain amount of money foolishly.” – Robertson Davies

One of my motto while travelling is to travel on budget. A certain amount of money should always be kept in buffer for emergencies and some unexpected things that comes along the way. In my last series of posts on Dalhousie, I did mention that we planned an economical back packing trip around beautiful hills of Himachal Pradesh. Here is the planning for my 5 days trip to Dalhousie with accommodation, restaurants, transport sight seeing. We visited Dalhousie during winters, but if you are planning in summer, I must tell you something : PLAN IN ADVANCE, summer is popular, lots of people want to go there, and everyone is planning same things, you would not want to miss anything from your list 🙂

How to get to Dalhousie – There are a lot of way to get to Dalhousie via car/self drive, bus, train or flight. We opted for train as it is the most cost-effective and convenient way to reach Dalhousie. Pathankot’s Chakki Bank railhead is the nearest railway station from Dalhousie. Once you reach Chakki Bank, you can take a local bus ride to Dalhousie. It is a frequent service. Note: Bus Service starts at 5am in the morning. So if you are arriving by early morning train, you can choose to sit in waiting room at station or take a taxi. For a 4 seater car taxi it might cost you INR 700 and for a 6 seater taxi it will cost you around INR 1400, depending on the car and the no. of people.

Accommodation – Dalhousie is very popular summer retreat hill station, so undoubtedly during peak season hotels & cottages prices are very high. Things are not that cheap during winter as well. So we decided to stay in a youth hostel at Banikhet, 10-12 kms from Dalhousie.A lovely hostel with nice big rooms, comfortable bed, clean toilets, and a lovely view of the hills around. They are also listed in YHAI (Youth Hostel Association of India), do not have website of their own so providing the details below:

YOUTH HOSTEL BANIKHET
C/O Hotel Sahara Inn, Dalhouse Hills,Banikhet – 176303 Himachal Pradesh.
Contact Person: Mr.Subash Sharma Phone:1899-254527; 9418010527 Email: saharainn.hotel@yahoo.com

The owners are very very helpful and good people, always ready to help. A Double bedroom will cost INR 1050 per night for 2-3 people, they have options for dormitory, standard bedroom as well.

Food/Restaurants: I love Indian food, and there are many options in Dalhousie and Banikhet. Since Dalhousie is a popular destination, once again the prices in the restaurants are high too. Some restaurants claim to be the best and oldest in town, but in actual food does not taste good. We were victim of such restro on our first day in Dalhousie. Hence we decided to give a try to a small vegetarian restaurant called ‘Vaishnav Dhaba- Pure Veg’ near to our hostel in Banikhet and that was our food joint for breakfast, dinner for next 5 days. Absolutely delicious and mouth watering food. Every meal per person will cost you around 60-70 INR. It is opposite to Banikhet bus station.

Transport for Visiting Places: You absolutely do not need taxi to see places around dalhousie, unless very necessary. You want to save some money, get up a bit early and board on a local bus to various places like Dalhousie, Khajjiar, Kalatop,Lakkar Mandi. A bus ticket will cost between 10-40 INR per journey. It is very cheap as comparable to taxi which will cost you per journey around INR 1500 and above. Since it is a hill station with a low population, you might not find frequent service. You will have to morning buses and return by 6 or 7PM as life takes a halt in evening time on hills.

Places to Visit: I have already written posts on each visit of mine. Please browse through all Dalhousie posts from drop down menu to get more details.

As always do let me know if you are looking for further information. I will be glad to help you in planning.