Even though travel abroad is not on many people’s minds at the moment, what with the Coronavirus shutting down airports and borders daily, that needn’t stop you from making travel plans. And with the South African economy being in recession, doing it on the cheap isn’t a bad idea either.
Here are a few tips to get you on your way.
1. Plan your travel in advance and book early
The earlier you book, the less you pay. Many elements of travel – accommodation, flights and car hire – work on the basis of supply and demand. So the earlier you book, the lower the demand will be and the lower the price. Subscribe to travel and airline sites to get early alerts on special deals.
2. Travel off-peak
Time your travels to avoid holidays – school, public or international – as well as major sports events or festivals, all of which boost demand for, and thus the cost of, booking.
3. Go for freebies!
Choosing accommodation that includes breakfast means there’s one less daily meal to budget for, so you can spend more on fun activities like visiting museums, a comedy show, concerts, or bungee jumping if you’re an adrenalin junkie. Hotel buffets are also a boon for families with hungry, growing youngsters.
4. Eat and shop locally
Take a break from big-name restaurants and look around for affordable markets frequented by the locals, especially if you’re staying in self-catering accommodation or a B&B. Not only will you save money, but you’re likely to discover more exciting and authentic flavours to enrich your travel experience. Carrying a goodie-bag of snacks and water will also help avoid splurging on fast-food for hungry kids.
“Save, save, save!”
5. Talk to the locals
When making your way around the beautiful place you’re visiting, take a leap of faith and get some valuable local knowledge about the best hangout spots, and where to get the best value for your money on food, clothes and local tour guides. Side note: For safety’s sake, always verify the information you find online or at your accommodation.
6. Consider travel stokvels
Financial saving schemes in South Africa are informally known as stokvels, where group members pay a specific amount for an agreed time to gain monetary or non-monetary returns. Travel stokvels are the buzz at the moment. You simply deposit money each month so you can travel later in the year. Expert tip: Make sure you join a reputable group, where you can monitor and retain control of your savings.
7. Plan group trips
Travelling with loved ones or friends can be pretty cost-effective. Typically, when you book as a group, you get a discount on flights and accommodation and sometimes on group holiday activities.
8. Go where you know people
Travelling to destinations where there are people you already know can enrich your holiday experience. They might offer to be your tour guide to cool spots with the best, most affordable food and have insights into the local culture. Show your appreciation for their generosity with a small gift.
9. Consider a travel package
Choosing a travel package can generally help you save and it makes planning a lot easier. On certain airlines, like kulula.com, some flights are combined with car hire and/or hotel accommodation. If you’re struggling to find accommodation or don’t entirely trust the online reviews, selecting holiday packages from credible service providers can help remove the guesswork. You can also specify parameters like whether you’re travelling solo, with a family, or looking for a perfect honeymoon spot.
10. Save, save, save!
There’s no better way to prepare for travelling than setting a budget aside and saving. If you plan on taking international trips, you also need to consider the local currency and other expenses like visas.
“It’s just a matter of planning it right and this includes choosing how and when you travel, as well as matching your destination to your budget,” says Shaun Pozyn, Head of Marketing at kulula.com. “Travel is always possible and in the words of regular vagabonds, ‘Work. Save. Plan. Travel. Rest. Repeat.’”