6 ways to ride cheap like a real Indian!



The clock is ticking, 48 hours more and I would be free from the world of IT, if only for a short time. I’m real busy with the exit formalities, probably doing more work than I’ve ever done in the last 4 years! I have a lot of ideas to write about, but none of them sound interesting at the moment.

What’s the point of doing something when it isn’t fun? But the fact is that there’s a very fine line between being lazy and being uninspired. Last Friday was the first time in last few months that I skipped my daily article, and that was awesome! But it’s far too easy to continue skipping, with one excuse or the other. You gotta man up! 

So this is an idea that I’ve been exploring in my head since quite a while. I’ve seen a lot of India, but there’s still plenty left. Now that I’ll be jobless, I guess travel will be much more serene and much less hurried. I want to really see the places and the people, not just zip past them like a ghost. These are my suggestions to ride cheap like a real Indian, which I’ll try to apply to my future travels!

1. Travel slow:

This is something that I really need to start working on. Maybe it’s because I’m young, maybe it’s the greed to see new places, or maybe I’m just too fucking stupid, but all my trips till date have been a whirlwind of madness and haste. I just zoom from hotel to hotel, stopping only for food/piss, clicking a few photos in between. Not only is it just plain pointless, it’s also costlier.

The thing is, most people believe the opposite, they think that if they reduce the number of stops, they’ll save on the hotel cost. It almost sounds logical, until you realize it’s not exactly true. Traveling like an orangutan jumping from one branch to the next leaves you with very little time at the end of the day to find a cheap, suitable accommodation, which forces you to pick whatever you find first.

You have to understand that a 20 day trip will always require you to have 20 night stops, going slower or faster isn’t going to affect that in any way.

I understand that most people are bound by the number of leaves their owners grant them, but all that means is that you need to plan with your brain and not your heart.

Not only that, you are pushing your body and your bike beyond the limit, which leaves you prone to accidents, exhaustion, and other serious shit. Travel is meant to be fun, that’s kinda the whole point, but if it becomes a job, if it converts you into a crappy truck driver, it’s time to hang up your boots.

2. Get a small motorcycle:

The whole world seems to be doing the opposite! I see these super duper adventure motorcycles pouring in from all manufacturers, giant, 250kg behemoths that I probably will have to climb up with a ladder. A large cost during any motorcycle trip is fuel, and buying massive, cumbersome, needlessly powerful bikes doesn’t help in any way.

The other reason that you should get a small motorcycle is because nobody is doing that! There was a time when I saw people on a R1200GS and thought that was cool. Nowadays every fucking cunt has one. Everywhere you look there’s somebody carrying their entire house on 2 wheels all over the world.

There’s nothing unique about it anymore.

A small motorcycle is not only easier on your pocket due to low fuel consumption, it’s also cheaper in parts and repairs. And then there’s that feeling of childish fun that a sub-150kg bike brings in! My Duke 390 has been a perfect partner through all of my travels till date, but I feel even that is too big for my requirement, not to mention its low fuel economy. Get the point?

3. Couchsurf:

Not something that I’ve tried yet, but have heard a lot of people do and looking forward to it! Hotels are not only costly, they also suck in the connection department. You ride all day on the highway, find a hotel by the side at night, and then carry on the next morning. You see none of the city, feel none of the people. Might as well travel by air.

Couchsurfing.com is where all the fun is, and it’s obviously much more useful for foreigners than locals. Like if I want to find a place around Kochi for night stay, I’ll probably contact the friends I have there. But for a German guy who knows nobody in this part of the world, couchsurfing rocks.

There are other services as well like Airbnb that I don’t exactly understand but will try to explore. It goes without saying that no matter how good the people you meet in your travels, don’t cross the limits of friendship!

It’s all good fun until it turns ugly.

Also, from time to time you will want to have some privacy and some material comforts that someone’s house cannot provide. Don’t hesitate to get a hotel then.

4. Get a tent:

Again something I have to try, something that not many Indians seem keen on doing. There’s obviously nothing better than carrying your own accommodation, and even a one-man tent with a sleeping bag is quite enough to have a good night’s nap. However you can’t just pitch your tent wherever your heart desires, and most people, especially the Police, may be quite wary of it.

Tents present one more problem – natural bodily functions. It’s splendid to sleep under a billion stars, but what to do when you gotta take a dump in the morning? Logically speaking, carrying a big container of water should solve most of these issues, but we all know these things are much harder than they sound.

For a guy like me who needs water to clean his lenses every morning, camping presents a bigger hurdle than to most. I’m perfectly fine with shitting in the open, I actually prefer it over a dirty loo, but then again we are a country of 1 billion people, finding a remote enough place is a task in itself.

5. Be open to help:

This is one area where I find most Indians to be shy, almost egoistic. I guess it’s in the way we are brought up, we are always suggested, nearly forced to be independent, to the point that taking help from someone else is akin to begging. I don’t see any merit in that, although I still feel weird doing it at times!

Peter, a friend of mine from Goa, has helped me with a GoPro, a night stop, food, and whatnot since the 1 year I’ve known him. He has no reason to do any of that, but he still does. One approach from my end may have been to deny all of it, but the fact remains that I need it, and I’m not ashamed of taking it!

There are a huge number of people around the globe who want to help others for no discernible reason.

For example if a traveler comes over to Mumbai and asks for a place to stay, I’ll try my best to make him comfortable at my bachelor pad, no matter how disgusting and dirty it maybe. It’s upto him to decide if he wants to accept the offer, and I don’t see why not!

6. Don’t overthink:

This is a pathological condition for us Indians, we just can’t stop thinking! We intrinsically hate randomness, detest unpredictability. We gotta have each and every little detail of our trip planned out, no matter how small. Hotels need to be prebooked, sightseeing needs to be preplanned, almost like you need to send an excel sheet of your productivity during the journey to your manager.

Many people will tell you booking hotels online will save you money. What these people won’t tell you is that tiny little homestays that cost half of a hotel room don’t show up on Tripadvisor, for obvious reasons. This is another area where traveling slow helps, you have all the time in the world to find a place that fits your requirements.

Stop treating your journeys like your appraisal sessions, you don’t need to know the answers to all the questions, you don’t need to prepare for any rebuttals. Pick a destination, enjoy the road, enjoy your stay, embrace the order in the chaos.

If all your travels do is increase your blood pressure and irritate your bowels, it’s time to rethink your strategy.


Kinda feels good to have another sixer on the website 🙂 Anyways, these are my recommendations to reduce your travels costs on a motorcycle, and I’ll be putting them all to test the next few months! If you have something to add, something you’ve experienced, let me know in the comments.

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  1. FilteringBunny

    Safe travels mate!

    1. AK

      And you!

  2. akhil prasad

    Hypermiling techniques.
    Cheap- almost free accommodation for the night @ Restrooms in Coco petrol pumps, Truckstops/dhabas if you carry your own sleeping bag.

    1. AK

      They are sleep-able places Akhil? Most petrol pumps that I see have horrible infrastructure.

  3. mithun

    Great pointers. I have rarely hesitated to ask for help when needed be it from a trucker..or a dude in a bmw who dropped me off at the nearest town fr medical help..it helped that i didnt look like a highway robber..most indians do help..i do u good god will do me good approach..selfish but as u would say who the f cares!

    1. AK

      Haha, yeah! I don’t understand why people are so scared of taking help from others

  4. akhil prasad

    I have travelled extensively in KA/AP and come across pretty neat places
    A1 Plaza near chitradurga
    Kamat neat shira or coco petrol bunk near gooty are a few mentions.

    unlike hotels/lodges, these are not extensively documented and hence difficult to find. Most Company owned/run pumps that have truck bays definitely have basic needs.

    Most reliance fuel stops had these facilities, but unfortunately they have locked down.

    PS – I have even come across a place which had a mini theatre complete with a snackbar.

    1. AK

      Awesome! Gotta try this approach as well 🙂

  5. Christofer

    Nice article. Kudos. Sleeping at petrol pumps in a sleeping bag. Nice Idea. Akhil having a smaller bike may not necessarily mean better fuel efficiency. Especially at highway speeds. The R15 returned an average of approx 32km on my last highway run which was almost the same as the Ninja’s fuel efficiency.

    1. AK

      True! I’m talking REAL small bikes, not small engines covered with a huge fairing 🙂

      1. Christofer

        You mean a 100cc bike on the highway.. The engine would be over worked. Don’t you think. The D200 may be a good idea. But high up the rev range the fuel efficiency would go down right?

        1. AK

          Yes it would be over worked, which is why I’ll ride at only 50 kmph 😀

          D200 is a good bike, but I prefer the 390 over it. Not just because of ABS, but also because the mileage isn’t that different between the two.

  6. Srinivasan

    “My Duke 390 has been a perfect partner through all of my travels till date, but I feel even that is too big for my requirement, not to mention its low fuel economy. Get the point?”

    Right words. That’s why I am holding back buying new one. Hope Duke releases 125 ABS in India. Stating India does not have market for premium bikes is a lie when they sell 390 in India. The truth is it will kill Bajaj products!

    Want to buy a bike with ABS. Hope some good bike comes out. With ABS.

    Any idea about Trigger CBS?

    1. AK

      The cheapest one is the Apache ABS, and it’s not a bad bike at all! Don’t think Trigger will ever get it though 🙂

  7. Dr Manish Airan

    hello friends, planning a long road trip in May this year. Kindly guide me in buying a good helmate, riding jacket, gloves and any other accessory u think think will be required. Pls do mention about company and model. My budget is around 15k.


    1. AK

      Hey. In 15k I think you can go for an MT helmet, which will cost some 4k bucks. Riding jacket go for Spartan Helios, some 6k. Gloves try DSG Phoenix, 2k bucks. With the remainder, buy Cramster Bionic Knee Protector and shoes with steel toes.

  8. Adam Z

    Very interesting read for an American who has been touring the USA every summer since 1986. I discovered your blog when someone posted a link on the UTMC forum and have been enjoying skipping around random old posts, very fun and informative.
    My Riding cheap in the USA has always included a lot of tent camping. Not wilderness camping, mind you- that is a very different thing that I also enjoy. Here, it is easy to find a well equipped campground anywhere not within 100 km from a large city. State and national parks usually have camping areas with at least toilet facilities and potable water for a quarter of the price of nearby low-end motels. Campgrounds run as family businesses mostly cater to the camping trailer/recreation vehicle crowd, but usually have a grassy spot close to the restrooms for tent camping, and such places often have swimming pools, laundry facilities, and hot showers. Such places are twice as expensive as a primitive campground but still half as much as a sketchy motel.
    Most of my touring has been on 1000cc motorcycles, probably a quarter of my trips with the woman I was seeing at the time as a passenger. My wife has ridden her own bike for the last seven years, so the days of carrying two people, a week worth of clothes, two sleeping bags and a tent on one bike are distant memories. One of my college friends rode from Michigan to Washington (about 4000km) on a 350cc Kawasaki and we all thought he was insane to take such a small bike. My Honda Shadow 1100 gets about 25 km/L and my Moto Guzzi California 1100 barely breaks 21 km/L. But that is inthe context of American pavement and speeds. On the rural routes here, 100 to 120 kph are often the posted speed limit, and 120 is a normal highway speed limit. 20 over the posted limit is normal anywhere without a high police presence. My bikes would not make any sense in India.
    Other than that, most of what you wrote is familiar from my own traveling. Two wheels going to the far horizon is fundamentally the same anywhere.

    1. AK

      Lovely comment mate! Things surely are different in that part of the world 🙂