Express News Service
A hashtag can take you to a new country. If you are as smart as Telugu traveller Tanniru Sravan, you can even enjoy Serbia for a week at `1,000, all-inclusive. Sravan just ticked the 30th country off his travel bucket list this May. “Hashtag #SerbiaTelugu on Instagram connected me to a Telugu gentleman who even picked me up from the Belgrade Airport. Through him and Couchsurfing app, I met Alex T who not only hosted me, but also cooked Serbian food like Djuvec Rice for me in his kitchen,” recalls Sravan about his trip last December. This veteran vacationer swears by travel tools and hacks which enables him to visit a new country almost every two months on a budget.
Sravan is not a travel blogger who takes freebies from brands. A native of Sri Kalahasthi in Andhra Pradesh, he is a techie currently living in Swindon, UK. He moved to Britain in November 2013 and has been bitten by wanderlust ever since. He has been recording his travelogues on his YouTube channel titled Travel With Sravan.
What’s the science behind smart vacations? How does one decide where to travel next? “Cheap flight tickets or special events like La Tomatina festival in August in Spain, Tulip blooms in May in Amsterdam, and New Year fireworks in London dictate my destination and dates. For example, I chose Serbia in December for my Christmas vacation. Most countries had travel restrictions due to Covid. Serbia was the only European country that had no such rules for visitors. It was also one of the few countries that do not require Indians to get a visa.”
Serbia is special for this 32-year-old travel buff since it was his 25th country to visit and the 80th flight he has taken in his life. “I didn’t know anyone in Serbia , but after five days there, I made friends in Serbia, Russia, Indonesia, Turkey and Dubai. They have all promised to be my hosts in their own countries,” he says.
But, there is no such thing called a free lunch. Surely, he needs to buy gifts or souvenirs as thank you gifts when he leaves? “It’s a myth that everything costs money. Human connections and services matter. There have been occasions when I cooked an Indian meal for my foreign host, cleaned his house, or taught them video editing skills. These were enough to win them over and allow me to be their guest,” he shares.
Sravan also happens to be a Couchsurfing brand ambassador. Couchsurfing provides a platform to connect with locals in every part of the world. This allows him to build a travel support community. “It’s like renting your home on Airbnb, but this is for free and we exchange information about our cultures, and interests. The rest is up to you.”
He says that one can travel comfortably if you like to experiment with local street foods. “Plan well and for between Rs 1,000 to Rs 10,000, you can manage your accommodation, food and transportation in over 100 countries for sure,” he assures. This June, Sravan is on his way to Rathlin West Light Seabird Colony in Northern Ireland where he is excited to meet puffins, guillemots and razorbills. “From hacks to hashtags, the journey begins,” he concludes, ready to get back to his packing.
✥ Get your leave approved at least eight weeks ahead. That will give you time to wrap up your work and travel in peace. Plan now to use the August 13-15 weekend. By taking leave for four days (Aug 16-19), you can holiday for ten days, from August 12-22.
✥ For best flight deals, check multiple websites in incognito mode so that the algorithm doesn’t show expensive flights based on your Google search desperation.
✥ Skyscanner and Hopper apps are good to get notifications about flight prices going down.
✥ Accommodation: Hostelworld and Booking.com are good tools.
✥ Couchsurfing is the best way to meet people and ask for tips.