An overseas holiday can come with a hefty price tag, especially for South African travellers. Whether it’s an annual holiday in Europe, or backpacking across America, a limited income and fluctuating exchange rates means that penny-pinching might be essential to enjoying your holiday!
With the South African Rand currently at R11 to the Euro and R9 to the US Dollar, South Africans are under a lot of pressure to stretch their cash as much as possible.
Here are some tips to help you make the most of your money while travelling in foreign countries!
Bargain and budget
1. Shop for great deals such as flights, hotel accommodation and transport options. If you do a little research, you’ll find that there are a number of ways to get to where you want to go for less. Visit a travel agent for great package deals, but also compare these to online specials and deals from budget airlines. If you plan properly, you can still travel with reliable transport and stay in safe accommodation for a fraction of the standard rates.
2. Have a financial plan. While it may seem stuffy to have a budget while on holiday, planning how you will spend your money or how much money you will spend a day will ensure that you have enough cash to see you through to the end of your trip.
3. Manage your cash properly. Pay in cash when you can get your cash from an ATM, which is often cheaper than going into the bank or cashing travellers’ cheques. Just remember that ATMs come with transaction fees and that walking around with large amounts of cash can be risky. Draw and store your cash wisely. A Cash Passport is a great way to store Forex safely and it can be topped up via internet banking.
4. Use your loyalty cards. Loyalty programmes ensure you get great deals and discounts. If you are a full-time student, you can apply for an International Student Identity Card, linked to a number of loyalty programmes, which will allow you to experience many tourist attractions for half the standard entry price.
Sleep smart, eat smart, travel smart
5. Accommodation can be one of the most expensive costs of any trip. If you’re willing to rough it or if you are travelling in a group, stay at a hostel, backpackers, or rent an apartment rather than staying in a traditional hotel. Then you will have more money to spend on other things. If you do stay at a hotel, choose one which offers bed and breakfast and try to take some of the breakfast goodies for snacks. Want accommodation suggestions? Check out Tripadvisor.
6. Eat local. Food can be expensive, especially in cities with high tourist volumes. Instead of eating at tourist hot spots like restaurants on the main city square, get off the beaten track and go where the locals eat. Whether small local cafes or community supermarkets, the food will probably be fresh, authentic, and much cheaper. And as an added bonus – you’ll get to see how the locals really live. Buying and cooking your own food will also save you money.
7. Pound the pavement. Instead of renting an expensive vehicle, paying for petrol, and struggling for parking, walk or rent a bicycle. Most European cities, for example, are made for walking and you will see much more than from inside a car stuck in traffic. Use public transport and invest in a weekly pass rather than paying for a more expensive once-off ticket fee. Public transport means less fuss and a chance to mix with the locals.
8. Carry your own stuff. Avoid baggage and porter fees at airports and hotels by using carry-on luggage wherever possible and carrying your own bag – or get your partner to carry it for you. The cost could be as little as a thank you kiss!
9. Chat for less. While it might seem more convenient to use your own mobile when you’re travelling, this can be hugely expensive. Buy a local sim card, unlock your phone, and send text messages to stay in touch with your loved ones. A Travelsim gives you a number and you only pay a set cost for calls in each country you visit. Be aware of data costs overall.
10. Keep it real. Travelling doesn’t have to be a long list of major expenses. There are many things to do and places to see for free, no matter which city you’re in. Walk around and take in the scenery, spend time with the locals, and take note of free shows and events.