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“There is no such thing as a free lunch” 

This is a popular adage that holds true for most aspects of life. The World Wide Web, however, may make some of us feel that we can get a lot of information and insights for free. In India, if not for free, we do try our famous JUGAAD to get things done for very cheap. In the pursuit of free or cheap advice, we need to also factor the hidden costs that we may be ignoring. Assume that you need to plan your next vacation or plan something new to do. How and where do you start to look for novel activities, experiences, and places to explore? You research on the internet and/or ask your friends and family; doing so must be going well for you – isn’t it? Believe you me, more often than not we have heard horror stories of the experiences basis the itineraries drawn up from such an approach. Let me tell you why:

There’s a plethora of information out there on the internet and the recommendations are not always homogenous. Then there are pictures that cannot be ignored when you narrate travel story and advice – after all, A picture is worth a thousand words. Or are they? After all, we live in the times when almost everyone has a DSLR/other high resolution cameras. Any location can be made to look picturesque and any activity can be made to look enthralling. So how do we choose basis the information available on the internet?
Ask yourself –How often has a very high rated restaurant served you with food that has at best been average for you? I can speak for myself and my friends & family – this happens quite often. The reason is a no brainer – the taste & preferences of those who would’ve rated a particular restaurant highly may be different from yours. It’s also possible that they ordered different dishes and their expectations of quality maybe different. The same theory applies to advice on travel – while your expectation from a vacation could be lots of adventure sports, your friend/family advising you may enjoy sightseeing and other sedentary activities.
So you have several questions before you head out. Where should I go? Where should I stay? What about my elderly parents? Is it kid friendly? What about food? How shall I commute? The list could be quite long, especially if you want to plan a fail proof experience. Then again, we must re-visit the popular adage - “There is no such thing as a free lunch”. Why would one spend hours to advise you without any incentive? Would you? At best, you would get very generic advice that may take care of only some of your questions. Now let’s look at the cost of the FREE ADVICE that you may rely upon in case your experience turns out to be a disappointment:
Priceless Leaves
For most working professionals, the Paid Leave, Casual Leave, etc., all look good on the company’s intranet. The reality is that often, one must beg, borrow, and steal to get what she/he is entitled for. The vacation is like Gold Dust - in-fact, it’s priceless.
Monetary Costs
This is the most obvious one as both domestic and international travel is often very expensive. With a very high proportion of middle class families in India, the first question we ask is KITNA LAGEGA (How much will it cost). There is, however, an unfortunate propensity to be Penny Wise Pound Foolish. Are we heading out like headless chickens just to save on the initial cost involved in planning? In a separate article, we shall delve in the economics of why investing on proper travel panning may actually save you a lot of money.
Time Cost
If only you could turn back time; unfortunately, you cannot unless you are Doctor Who. Most of you have a hectic schedule: 9 AM to 8 PM job, 6 days a week, and not to mention the commute time to office and back. Do you really have the time to research the deluge of information on the internet? Also, what’s the value of that time for you? As Benjamin Franklin famously said – Time is Money!
Opportunity Cost
Quite often, we regularly keep aside some money, cutting down on several expenses that could give us immediate satisfaction. If one were to factor the short-term sacrifices, the value of that money saved becomes much higher.
Psychic Cost

The unhappiness caused by a possible disappointment of a poor experience can often be very damaging. We take a break to get away from the daily stress of city life, to resolve issues or repair relationships, to get perspectives, to escape the summer heat, or just to have fun. Whatever your reasons are, the stakes are just too high. Besides the above costs, there’s always the Fear of Missing Out or FOMO. Are you missing out on experiencing novel things to do or places to go to? Imagine the disappointment if you were to realize after coming back from a vacation that you could’ve explored other novel things to do and discovered places as a part of your itinerary.

So ask yourself again – how expensive has the pursuit of FREE Advice been for you? I leave you with the following quote that will perhaps capture what I have been alluding to:

Everything comes at a price. Everything in your life. The question you have to ask yourself is, what price are you willing to pay? — Paullina Simons
Contributed By: Avishek Sarkar, Founder at GoPo

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