25 ways to save money on travel
Whether you plan to travel locally or explore distant shores, there are tons of different ways to save money before and during your trip. We’ve rounded up some of the best advice out there to make your next holiday a more affordable reality:
Before you go
- The first thing to do is eliminate your debt so you can actively start saving towards your trip.
- Your trip will include transport, accommodation, food and activity expenses. Spend some time figuring out approximately how much your vacation will cost and start saving towards that.
- Open a Holiday Fund account. A regular cheque account won’t help you with that added interest boost – rather look for an interest earning savings account. Our Tax-Free Investment is a good option if you plan on saving for a year or more.
- If you need advice on how to save, check out our blog post: Top tips for saving.
Choosing your destination
- Many South Africans have yet to explore our own beautiful country, so don’t hesitate to look local for your dream holiday. If this means no flights and the option of rather driving with a group of friends, it could make your trip more affordable.
- Keep an eye on local Facebook pages that highlight special deals and travel packages.
- It’s easy to find holiday package deals for international destinations such as Zanzibar, Thailand and Bali. These deals often offer a once-in-a-lifetime value for money experience.
- Visa costs can sometimes add a nasty surprise to your travel budget so if you’re looking internationally, opt for destinations that don’t require a visa. There’s a long list to choose from – did you know South Africans can travel to 102 countries visa-free?
- Road trips are a fantastic way to see South Africa, and if you’re travelling with friends it will help you keep costs down. Split the costs of petrol for your trip and save. Before you leave, check that your car is in a safe, roadworthy condition to ensure you all arrive at your dream destination safely.
- If you’re booking flights, try to be flexible with your dates and times. It’s cheaper to fly in the middle of the week and out of season. If you’re booking flights during school holidays, you can expect to pay more.
- Students enrolled at a South African university or college can get special prices through organisations like STA Travel.
- If you have gear and you don’t mind roughing it, camping is an affordable way to explore any area. If you don’t have camping equipment, look for “tented camps” – these tents can sometimes be more affordable than a brick-and-mortar structure.
- If a hotel is more your vibe, look for an all-inclusive deal at a three or four-star hotel.
- Self-catering options are a great way to save. Airbnb is becoming increasing popular and you can find great local and international accommodation listed on the site.
- Booking engines like com and Where To Stay are useful for finding a range of accommodation types at varying prices. There are many similar websites, so it would be useful to chat to your friends to see if they have any particular recommendations.
- Backpacker hostels are perfect options for the budget traveller, giving explorers the opportunity to meet like-minded individuals. These hostels usually offer dorm-style rooms with four to 10 beds and shared ablutions. There are a number of these hostels across South Africa, and in fact all over the world.
- Bunk with friends and family who live in that area. Don’t be afraid to ask – they might let you crash on their couch for free. Just remember to do your share, tidy up after yourself and maybe treat your hosts to a good home-cooked meal.
- Alternatively, consider doing a house swap with a family in another area, an option that is gaining popularity around the world. Visit houseswap.co.za to find out more.
While you’re on holiday
- Don’t always eat out. If you’re staying in self-catering accommodation, prepare most of your meals at home. If you’re staying in a hotel and only one of your meals are included, consider filling up on sandwiches, fruits and other on-the-go options. Picture it – sitting next to a peaceful river in your holiday spot, eating freshly baked bread, cold meats and cheeses. Nothing better!
- Of course, no holiday is complete without at least a few visits to local restaurants. Remember, in most destinations, the closer you are to the City Centre or tourist attraction, the higher the prices will be.
- Do some research before you go and take advantage of Free Days to visit local museums and other tourist attractions. For example, did you know that every year in September South African National Parks (SANPARKS) offers free entry to national parks around the country?
- Your age can save you a penny! If you’re under 18 or over 60, don’t be shy to ask for special discounts.
- If you’re travelling internationally, chat to your bank about the most affordable option for access to cash when you’re overseas. In most cases, it’s more affordable to withdraw money from an ATM than to trade your Rands for FOREX. Some ATMs offer different rates of exchange, so try different ATMs before agreeing to a conversion rate. Did you know you can also use your African Bank credit card to pay for international purchases?
- Most international destinations offer excellent free Wi-Fi connections in public spaces. Consider using this free Wi-Fi for keeping in touch with family and friends (using WhatsApp, Facebook, etc.) rather than buying costly air time. Remember to make sure Roaming is not activated on your local cell phone contract, or you could be in for a nasty surprise when you get home. If you’re unsure about this, contact your cell phone data provider before starting your trip.
Where possible, walk everywhere you need to go. It’s a fantastic way to learn about a place. If walking is not possible, research your options before making a commitment. Public transport is almost always the cheapest choice. Rome2Rio is a useful website and mobile app that helps you figure out the best way to get to your destination, whether it’s by bus, plane, train, ferry or car – and it includes approximate prices too!
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