Okay, so I need to admit that we are obsessed with travelling and exploring South Africa. As a result we make it a point to travel as often as possible. Exploring exotic places doesn’t have to cost a fortune and you certainly don’t need to win the lottery to travel around the country – not if you know how to watch your finances. The mindset that travel is expensive needs to change. As South Africans we live in such a beautiful country with so many travel options available to us. Today we are sharing our budget travel tips to help you plan a holiday on a budget.
12 of our budget travel tips
1. You need a POA
Travelling spontaneously is great, if you have the luxury of time and money to spare. That being said, for most of us travelling on a budget is the way to go, which means we need a plan of action. Do your research. South Africa has an abundance of hidden gems and they might even be on your doorstep. A rough idea would leave less to chance avoiding unnecessary or unplanned expenses.
2. Save your money
Now that you have a plan you the moola. People say its difficult to save and while that may be true, it’s also about priorities. For our family, travel is a priority so we make a point to save for our travel shenanigans. Neither of us smoke and we are social drinkers, therefore don’t buy alcohol regularly. That in itself is a huge saving. When shopping we do our research first and we aren’t into branded clothing and gear for instance. We also maximise how and where we shop. I work from home so that in itself is a huge saving on petrol and work clothing expenses. The boys are home-schooled so we don’t pay for text books, transport, uniform and fundraisers for instance.
3. Rewards programs
Almost all brands have rewards, so find out how to work them to your advantage. Learn to maximize your benefits and use them to your advantage. For instance, we bank with FNB so we make it a point to maintain level 5 on our eBucks status monthly. This scores us maximum discounts and eBucks. We use our benefits like visiting the Slow Lounge and allow the kids to at up a storm. This was we don’t need to pay exorbitant prices for airport food. We also us Avis pickups and drop offs. As Discovery Vitality members we make it a point to maintain Diamond status as it is a huge money saver. It gives us 35% discount on flights, car hire and accommodation at some of the most sort after hotels and resorts around the country.
4. Travel Sales
The travels sales are life, especially due to the pandemic. Its a win win situation. You get to travel and the travel industry can start booming again. There are currently some amazing deals on flights and accommodation. Surf the net and find the best deals online. Our recent trip to East London only cost us R2400 in total for return flights for the 4 of us. That was an incredible deal which go on a Kulula sale earlier this year. This takes me to the next point.
5. Book flights in advance
Airlines ‘release’ their flight seats up to a year in advance and the closer you get to your departure date, the more the prices increase, especially in the last month. Last minute flight bookings cost an arm and a leg therefore its best to rather plan, plan, plan.
6. Travel out of season
Avoid trips during the school holidays, festive holiday periods like Christmas; Easter and over long weekends. You can expect to pay premium prices over these periods. Rather travel just before or just after these time. You will be amazed by the deals you will find. This is a huge reason homeschooling works for us.
7. Road trip
Get into your car and hit the open road as loads of adventures await you. Road trips can actually be a great way to explore on a budget. That said, road-tripping isn’t always cheap. The price of petrol and toll fees is ridiculous, but road tripping means that you can take as much food, luggage and even your pets along. Map out your route and explore some of the towns you drive though. After all, life is a journey not a destination.
Airbnb have incredible places at a fraction of the cost. Resorts often offer kids under 18 stay and eat for free. Why not pitch a tent (that is if you are into that kinda thing). Bare in mind that camping equipment can be expensive if you don’t already have all the gear. Another amazing alternative is backpackers. South Africa has an abundance of backpackers scattered around the country making budget travel possible. There are backpackers that accommodate families. We have stayed at several backpackers and found it to be rather educational for the boys. Most importantly don’t feel bad to call and asked for their special rates.
While in Coffee Bay we stayed at Cottages @20 which I found on Bookings.com We honestly didn’t expect much but found an absolute diamond in the rough. Review coming soon so make sure to subscribe to the blog so don’t miss it
9. Beach holidays are cheaper
Avoid popular tourist destinations as they tend to cost more and prices are often geared towards the budget of foreign tourists. We absolutely love the bush however it comes at a pretty penny, Very few establishments have rates specific for locals and this is something SA needs to consider because every South African should have the privilege of exploring and experiencing this beautiful and diverse country. Beach vacays are the best and you don’t need to pay a cent a days soaking up the sun while the family catches a wave or two.
10. Cook your own food
While not everyone wants to self-cater, it is a huge money saver. Cheap lunches can be bought in a supermarket or even a local fresh food market, but making it yourself will certainly be cheaper. Self-catering means getting bang for your buck. Take you own snacks along too because feeding hungry kids can be super expensive. Aim to eat where the locals if you do eat out.
11. Pack properly
Make sure you take everything you need so that you don’t have to shop while you’re away. No matter where you’re heading, take at least one pair of long jeans, warm hoodie and waterproof jacket for unpredictable weather incidents.
12. You don’t need the souvenirs
I’ve always been huge on my souvenir collection, but quickly realised the money I spending could be better utilised. Now I typically like to reserve my travel budget for tours and other experiences. I do, however, save small mementos from my trips, like ticket stubs and postcards.
We sincerely hope that our budget travel tips help you explore more of South Africa.