I have been travelling for a few years now, more so in recent past. Infact, the love for travel began back in junior school. Luckily my parents let me go on every single trip, be it day trips or longer ones to new destinations. Even though they weren't big on travel, I got to explore the country-- Yayy for me!
And over the years, I found joy in travelling alone. Initially it was because friends were busy and couldn't take time off but over time it has become something that is all mine. I infact even hesitate to tell people am travelling for fear that they will want to come along or latch on.. Maybe I am just being cautious, because I firmly believe that if you can travel with someone, then that relationship is set for life- be it a friend or otherwise.
And the one big takeaway for me with the whole travelling alone is that I have learnt so many lessons, discovered so many things not just about myself but about how to travel smart and wise, considering am into budget backpack travel and not the lavish kind.
Few weeks back, I was working out of a cafe, rather editing pictures from a recent trip when a friend pinged me on chat. We hadn't spoken in a few months, and it was a pleasant surprise to hear from him. We started chatting and here is how the conversation went..
He - Hey, how are you doing?
Me- Hi, am good, whats up.. This is a surprise. ;o)
He - Ah well, I do think about you woman, just that life happens and then work happens, etc etc..
Me - Hmmm..
He- So, are you in town or somewhere new/exotic? Gotta say, am so jealous of you/your life...
Me - hahah.. shuddup... dont put kannu now...
He- Nah, never.. am happy you are doing what you Love.. back in Chennai?
Me- yes, been 3 days since I got back.
He - So where all did you go this time?Spill the beans.
Me - I was exploring in and around Gujarat this time.. Familiar places and few new ones as well. We started with Ahmedabad, then explored the regions around- Adalaj, Patan & Modera before moving ahead towards Bhuj and Rann of Kutch. It was a fun packed road trip alright. Also combined plenty of textile based village/NGO visits.
He - Oh wow, sounds exotic alright. How do you manage finances when travelling? Am assuming you went through a group and they charge a fee + taxes...
Me - Well, this one was actually a reccee, which means we were checking out the region, the accommodation etc so we can put together trips and bring people. But yes, when we do that we will charge them a fee plus what is called GST.
He- Wait, what is this GST?
Me - Uff, well unlike earlier when we had million different kinds of taxes, today it has all been consolidated and we pay just GST [Goods & services tax].. If you wanna understand this better, head over to the GST section on the site, it has all the info you could ask for...
He - So, you pay GST on pretty much everything..
Me - Yep and you gotta file GST returns periodically as well.
He- Ooh., interesting~~ Things seem to have been streamlined in India now...
Me - Ya, and what is cool is that when booking hotel rooms, if the tariff comes to under Rs8000, then am charged only 18% whereas if it is beyond this rate the GST is around 28%.. This way you can look at staying at high end hotels that give you good deals as well. ;-)
He - Hmmm, and what about food? does GST apply there as well?
Me - yep, in that you will see two components at the bottom- CGST and SGST- one goes to the center and other to the state, the total GST percentage is divided up equally between the two.. And on top of this, some places add Service charge[10%] as well- which is basically tips.
He - oooh. okok.... Wow, so much has changed since my last trip home... What about flight and train tickets? how do they work these days?
Me - they work the same as before... you can choose your mode of transport based on the travel duration, your comfort and fears.. hehe
He - Shuddup monkey.. I mean how expensive are they these days?
Me - ahh that.. well, if you book ahead they are cheaper... Under the new taxation laws, the tax on the economy class is 5% while business class is 12% when it comes to flights ... For trains, GST is applicable to all categories of tickets at 5%..
He - Gosh, okay!!
So, how do I find out about GST returns filing?
Me - That is for businesses, but then you can check the site I mentioned earlier. It is quite indepth and easy to follow. Infact, they even do the needful for you, all you gotta do is provide necessary information and documents.
He - Wow, good to know... Ok, this is enough for today, more later.. head is swimming with info... What were you upto when I buzzed?
Me - Cool.. Was editing pictures from the recent trip..
He - Lucky bug~~