Recently, Nutreats asked me to contribute a few tips for Budget Travel to an article on their website. See the full article here.
Set a savings goal and commit to your trip
Sometimes we need just one push in the right direction to start working and saving towards that dream trip. Whether it’s going buying a ticket to a massive music festival overseas or making the commitment to book flights or accommodation before a certain date, it will motivate you to cut down spending on unnecessary expenses like clothing sales, eating out or that daily coffee habit.
What helps me is to compare whatever I want to buy in that moment to what I COULD have spent it on for my travels e.g. “That dress is amazing but damn that would be a quarter of a flight ticket, or a night’s accommodation in Paris.”
Weigh up your options
The internet is right at your fingertips and once you start planning, you will be faced with information overload that [can be confusing].
For European trips, I have found that planning it by yourself without a travel agent can save an immense amount of money. Plus, you will be able to explore the beauty of each city you’re visiting on your own terms. Nothing ruins the experience like rushing about to find a tour bus about to leave and you haven’t taken in the sites yet.
For Island trips, I always investigate and compare prices should I book directly with the hotel and book flights myself vs what the agent offers. All-inclusive is a must for island trips as their functional currencies for tourist are mostly in USD or Euros. Do not forget to ask the agent for the correct details so you can compare apples with apples.
You will also need to check whether you want to visit your destination in or out of peak season as out of season can also save a lot of cash.
My go-to booking websites
I’ve always used booking.com to book most of my accommodation for Europe. Over the years I’ve done reviews for each place and have managed to work my way up to their “Genius” member level which enables me to book special deals and accommodation with massive discounts. With the rise of Airbnb, you can get away with booking places in your biggest cities for a steal, so shop around.
For flights, I’m a huge fan of Skyscanner and have managed to book flights numerous times to Europe return per person for under R5500 each! This does require some planning and a degree of flexibility around your travel dates but once you see those green marked flights in the app, be sure to book them. African airlines such as Taag and Ethiopian Airlines have upped their games immensely in terms of their service offering so don’t doubt them because they are not the Emirates or Qatar’s of the world.
A huge tip I can give is to NOT search your SAME flight dates to see whether the costs go up and down over a few days. With cookies on your browser, it tracks your activity and it will push the demand for those dates up, and so the prices too. If you are happy to pay the price, book away.
On your trip
Use Public transport as much as possible and walk if the distance is short enough. Exploring a city on foot can be one of the best experiences about travel while immersing yourself in the day to day activities of the locals. Do your research to see if there’s a travel card for a week that will allow you on trains, trams and buses that’s specifically for the locals. In Paris, we got offered a “tourist deal” but it ended up being double what the local public transport card was.
Avoid eating in tourist districts where you will most likely pay a premium just because it’s in that district. You will be surprised to find hidden gems on the outskirts of the cities. When renting self-catering accommodation, you can shop at the local supermarkets and eat some meals at home or prepare snacks for a picnic to be enjoyed at parks and other tourist sites.
My Saving Strategies
Pay off your debt asap
I’m talking about personal loans, credit cards and store credit especially. The interest rates on these short term tools are ridiculously high and the potential of landing up in a debt trap due to this, happens to many younger folks in their 20’s. Always put a portion of your salary towards your debt to pay it off faster, and if you are fortunate enough to receive a bonus over the holidays, use the bulk of it to pay off your debt. If your debt’s managed efficiently, start saving a portion of your salary every month, not only for travel purposes but also for rainy days.
Change up your transport
Fuel is one of the biggest expenses for households these days with our petrol price increasing each month. With that the cost of food and general groceries increase too and as soon as you know it, you have nothing left at the end of the month. With car repayments increasing due to our economy and that interest rate, just keep in mind that the vehicle you drive depreciates over time so never see as car as an “investment”. Rather look for alternatives ways to commute such as public transport or a scooter.
The single biggest life changing decision I made a good 6 years ago, was to start commuting on a scooter. Yes, it takes getting used, yes, it is dangerous at times, but it teaches you focus (I took an advanced driving course when I started riding), saves you a lot of time and of course money. My commute to work and back is 32km every day, my tank of fuel which cost me R70 lasts about a week. Compare that to your average weekly spend on fuel and you will be shocked at the difference. The value this has added to my life has been priceless.
Unsubscribe from store emails
At the start of 2018, I made the decision to unsubscribe from a lot of online websites’ newsletters. These alerts tempt us to spend because items are on sale and it’s hard to resist a good deal. By unsubscribing, I’ve spent less on clothes and items I don’t need (ONE DAY ONLY!) and started saving more towards my bigger goals such as our annual trip overseas and my studies.