Image via Envato Elements
Image via Envato Elements
You don’t need to be rich to travel. Getting creative about saving money and learning how to become financially responsible goes a long way. And yes, that may mean skipping on a few luxury expenses during the month.
Before you start looking at dream destinations, accommodation and cheap flights, you need to assess your financial situation. Set a day aside, get a bottle of wine or your drink of choice and go through your expenses, rand by rand.
You’ll soon see where you are wasting money (that’s why you need the bottle of wine). Once you know where everything is going, you can start budgeting properly and start saving for your dream travels.
We can’t stress the importance of this enough: make a budget and stick to it. Do the research and if your dream destination is out of your budget, consider staying at backpackers and hostels instead of fancy five-star hotels.
Let’s say you’re planning a big international trip 12 months from now. Calculate roughly how much the trip will you cost you. It might seem scary, but now you only have to save one-twelfth of that every month.
Additionally, ask Uncle Google which tourist traps to avoid and where the locals eat. It will more than likely be cheaper than eating a place catering to tourists. Find street food to savour instead of expensive cafe snacks.
Make a shopping list for everything. And by everything, I really do mean everything. I know it’s a pain – you want to feel like an impulsive wayfarer, but make your lists and thank me later.
If you don’t, you’ll end up spending more than realise, and will probably buy things you don’t even need. Remember that every cent saved goes towards your travel fund.
If you need added motivation to curb your spending, simply put a picture of your dream destination in your wallet or where ever else you keep your money. Hopefully, you’ll think twice about spending every time you see that photo.
Everyone wants to get a travel discount. The easiest way to save a few bucks is to book your trip as soon as possible, and to shop around for deals. Out-of-season rates are always lower than peak periods.
Travelling out of season means you can still get to visit all those luxury destinations but at a fraction of the cost. Prices usually hike up over Easter, Christmas and New Years as well.
And if you’re an introvert like yours truly, out-of-season travels mean fewer tourists and less crowded destinations. So, win-win.
If you use an online travel agency (OTA) to book a hotel, you might not get the best deal. They charge commissions on room bookings and some hotels add additional fees when you book through an OTA.
Instead, call the hotel itself and asking if they can beat the price. It might not always work, but it could save you a few rands – or dollars – especially because hotels won’t usually offer OTAs their best rates anyway.
When you deal with the hotel directly, it will also be easier to cancel a reservation or make a change when you need to, without having to deal with the extra admin of going through an OTA.
BusBud analysed more than 220 000 Airbnb listings around the globe and compared it to average hotel rates. In Paris, for example, the average hotel daily rate was $214 for a hotel, but only $110 through Airbnb.
If you want to travel to Spain, you’d pay about $132 for hotels, but only $73 through Airbnb. Headed to Berlin? Airbnb rates there are $65 compared to the $128 for hotel rates.
Most of the destinations in Europe had cheaper Airbnb rates hotels. However, Airbnb rates in the United States are higher than hotel rates. Curious.
This is more of a curb-your-spending tip than a save-when-planning tip, but I reckon it’s important enough to be added to the list. Sign up for a prepaid credit – at Payoneer or MasterCard’s Travelex for example – and thank me later.
A prepaid credit card gives you all the benefit of a regular credit card except, well, the extra credit. You simply transfer funds to the card, and use it on your travels.
The benefit of using a prepaid credit card is that you can’t overspend and end up in the red, unlike a normal credit card. It also helps you to spend responsibly, because it’s your money on that card. When it’s gone, it’s gone.
But budget carefully and stick to it. You don’t want to return from your trips with mountains of debt. It is recommended to use credit cards with no foreign transaction fees.
And even if your card has a fee, it will still be a better deal than converting currency at a kiosk, according to WalletHub. In fact, using a credit or debit card is likely cheaper than converting at most banks and credit unions.
“Why waste the time exchanging physical currency, not to mention risk carrying it around, when a credit card will handle everything automatically and give you the best exchange rates.”
Metered taxi services are fun and all, but when you want to save money, public transport is your friend. Or better yet, walk! It’s good for you. When I was in Swaziland, I travelled through Mbabane, Matsapha, Manzini and Piggs Peak.
I’d park someone place central for the day and explored everything the cities had to offer on foot. You get to see so much more, and it’s good for your health. My Fitbit tells me I averaged about 16 000 steps a day.