Ever so I often I receive emails in which people are asking about the kind of budget that is required for a trip to Ladakh. And almost every time, my answer is the same, it depends.
Travel expenditure depends on various aspects and varies widely depending upon your taste and preferences. For instance, one can have a stupendous breakfast for Rs. 15-20 or can spend hundreds of rupees on it; it all depends on the thickness of your wallet and your taste.
When I usually calculate budget for my trips, I base it on the assumption, that on average, I’ll be spending between Rs. 300-350 (US$ 7-8) a day on food, accommodation, phone calls (in case my mobile isn’t working) and internet access. I have found that I am able to stay within this budget, even while traveling solo (accommodation cost increases significantly).
For a budget of Rs. 350 a day, I can usually get a clean double bed room with attached toilet and 3 meals a day. And even if I have to spend a night at hotel which costs Rs. 500 a night or have to shell out Rs. 200-300 for internet access, I can still remain well within my budget, thanks to days when the total expenditure is less than the budgeted amount.
This is especially true while traveling to a place like Ladakh, where you can get a bed to sleep on, in areas like Sarchu and Pang for a mere Rs. 30 a night and get stupendous meal for Rs. 20-30. In fact, in remote places like Suru and Zanskar Valley, you can get a double bed room with attached toilet at J&K tourism bungalows for Rs. 100 a night!
Most significant portion of my travel budget is allocated towards fuel bills, which usually come out to be Rs. 1.3-1.4 a kilometer, thanks to the decent mileage (~40kmpl) I get from my motorcycle. Usually you will get almost the same average that you get in plains, if your vehicle is in good condition and you don’t rip her too much.
In case you are traveling using buses and taxis, it can be even less or can increase significantly if you are planning to hire an entire taxi on your own.
So if you are planning a trip to Ladakh, then first decide the kind of money you are willing to spend on it. Then try and figure out, how much money would be required for transportation (fuel bill, cost of public transport) and then, try and allocate a daily budget that would be enough to cover for the kind of accommodation and food you want. This will help you arrive at a ball park figure and you can then decide to increase the budget or lower the destinations/days to suit your pocket.
While traveling, keep a log of daily expenditure, as it would help you keep track of how much money you have got left and based on it, you can choose to splurge or cut back.
However what ever you do, do keep in mind that you are on a holiday and sometime it is best to live like a king/queen for a few days, then to spend weeks as a peasant.