5 Ways to Save Big on USA to India Travel (and Maybe Even Get a Free Elephant Ride)

As a seasoned NRI (Non-Resident Indian) living in the USA, I’ve had my fair share of cross-continental flights. And if there’s one thing I can say with certainty, it’s that the USA-India route is a goldmine for both airlines and travelers who know how to save. In fact, a report by OAG Aviation Worldwide Ltd reveals that this route is one of the busiest and most lucrative air corridors (1).

I’ve collected all the wisdom I’ve gained from my journeys and distilled it into this masterpiece. So, for all you tired-of-the-mundane-advice-seeking NRIs, let’s dive into the top five ways to save BIG on USA-India travel, with a hint of humor and Altucher-style storytelling.

1. Time Travel – Book Smart, Save Smarter

Booking your flight is like playing the stock market – you need the right timing and a keen eye for a good deal. And if you’re anything like me, you want to save as much as possible without sacrificing your sanity.

The best time to book your ticket is around four months before your departure date. According to CheapAir.com, this is the sweet spot for getting the best deal on international flights (2).

So, if you’re planning to go back to India for Diwali, start looking for tickets right after Holi. It’s like time traveling between festivals, except you’ll have more money left to splurge on sweets and firecrackers!

2. Midweek Madness – Fly Out When Everyone’s Working

Now, I’m not suggesting you turn into a corporate ninja, but booking a midweek flight can save you hundreds of dollars.

Flights on Tuesdays and Wednesdays are generally cheaper since most people prefer traveling on weekends (3). The less popular the day, the less you pay!

To spice things up, you could even create a new tradition for your friends and family back home. Call it “Midweek Homecoming.” They’ll never see it coming, and you’ll save a fortune!

3. Be a Layover Lover – Embrace the Art of Connecting Flights

Direct flights from the USA to India might save you time, but they’ll take a bite out of your wallet. Opting for a layover can save you up to 40% on your airfare (4).

I know what you’re thinking – layovers are a pain. But look on the bright side – you get to explore a new city and experience a bonus adventure!

I remember one time when I had a 12-hour layover in Istanbul. I ventured out into the city, tried some delicious local food, and even learned a few Turkish phrases.

By the time I reached India, I had a new stamp in my passport and memories to last a lifetime – all while saving a hefty sum on my airfare.

4. Fare Alert! Stalk the Airlines Like a Pro

Signing up for fare alerts from various travel websites and airlines is like having a personal travel assistant who’s constantly on the lookout for the best deals. It’s the perfect solution for busy NRIs who don’t have the time or patience to monitor airfares religiously.

One of my favorite tools is Google Flights, where you can set up an alert for your preferred route and receive notifications when prices drop (5). And if you’re really dedicated to saving, you can always create a separate email account just for these alerts, so you don’t drown in a sea of promotions.

5. Cash in on Your Credit Card Rewards – Fly (Almost) Free

If you’re not using your credit card rewards to book your flights, you’re missing out on a world of savings. Most credit cards offer travel rewards, and if you’re a smart spender, you can accumulate enough points to get a free or discounted flight. It’s like finding a hidden treasure chest of miles every time you swipe that magical piece of plastic!

I once managed to get a round trip ticket from New York to Mumbai for a mere $100 using my reward points. I felt like I had pulled off the greatest heist in NRI history. Just make sure you pay off your credit card bills on time, or else you’ll end up paying more in interest than you saved on your flight.

And now, for the pièce de résistance – the bonus tip that will elevate your NRI travel game to legendary status:

Bonus Tip: Travel Light – Ditch the Emotional Baggage (and the Extra Suitcases)

We Indians are notorious for overpacking when we travel. We’re the champions of “just in case” packing – you know, packing that extra shirt, those three extra pairs of shoes, and enough gifts to satisfy an entire village. But here’s the thing – those extra suitcases come with hefty fees, especially on long-haul flights.

So, embrace minimalism and pack only what you need. Trust me, your relatives will survive without that seventh box of chocolates. And if you really want to score some brownie points with your family back home, use the money you saved on excess baggage fees to treat them to a memorable experience – maybe even that elephant ride I mentioned earlier!

There you have it, my fellow NRIs – five ways (plus a bonus tip) to save BIG on USA-India travel, all wrapped up in a package of humor and practical advice. Armed with these tips, you’ll be flying high on savings and laughing all the way to the bank (and the samosa stand).

Happy travels!


  1. OAG Aviation Worldwide Ltd. (n.d.). OAG’s Busiest Routes. Retrieved from https://www.oag.com/busiest-routes
  2. CheapAir.com. (n.d.). When to Buy Flights – Annual Airfare Study. Retrieved from https://www.cheapair.com/blog/when-to-buy-flights-annual-airfare-study/
  3. FareCompare. (n.d.). Cheapest Days to Fly and Best Time to Buy Airline Tickets. Retrieved from https://www.farecompare.com/travel-advice/tips-from-air-travel-insiders/
  4. Skyscanner. (n.d.). Connecting vs. Direct Flights. Retrieved from https://www.skyscanner.com/tips-and-inspiration/connecting-vs-direct-flights
  5. Google Flights. (n.d.). Google Flights – Set up Fare Alerts. Retrieved from https://www.google.com/flights
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Mani Karthik

About the Author

Mani Karthik

Entrepreneur, Mentor & Blogger.
I help business grow & scale. Have helped 15+ companies scale in US, Middle East and India.
I share everything I learned on this blog, so that you benefit. Here’s more about me.

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