With the cost of living skyrocketing, we’re all having to re-evaluate what we spend our money on, and all too often, travel and leisure activities don’t make the list of must-haves. If you are an avid traveller, try these clever tips to help you bring down travel costs and have some spare money to spend on fun activities once you reach your destination.
Swop locations and opt for self-catering
Picture a girls’ weekend away to do shopping for a wedding, a milestone birthday or an important anniversary. Normally, people head to the big cities so that they have access to a variety of shopping malls and big brand names in clothing, jewellery, and gifting.
Instead of booking accommodation in city suburbs, opt for cheaper options in the surrounding townships, then Uber yourself around or use public transport.
Head of Marketing and Communication at online booking platform Jurni, Tshepo Matlou says, “If you and a group of friends from out of town are planning a shopping trip weekend to Sandton Mall, for example, consider staying in B&Bs and self-catering accommodation in nearby Alexander, which will be much cheaper.
“If you stay at a property with self-catering options, you can cook your own meals instead of eating out. A backpackers’ hostel is even affordable and some even often provide inexpensive meals,” he adds.
You can then reinvest the money you saved back into the reason you are there in the first place and get better quality items or more.
Take advantage of off-season offers
It’s smart to plan your travel as far ahead as possible, so that you have time to compare transport and accommodation costs.
Matlou advises, “Do as much research as you can to compare different prices, and if possible try to book flights, long-distance bus trips, and accommodation during the low season. Off-season flights tend to be a lot cheaper and accommodation is offered at discount prices.”
Bear in mind that certain activities can hike prices in a region, even if it’s off season. For instance, coastal properties are cheaper to book during winter, but a big sporting or cultural event in the area can see prices shoot up during that time.
Find free activities
Travelling to the countryside is a cost-effective option if you consider the fact that South Africa’s wealth of scenic wonders and diverse ecosystem provide a smorgasbord of free activities. Think hiking trails, beach walks, mountain climbing, stargazing, and exploring ravines and caves. Certain times of the year are ideal for this – for example the coming early spring months are the perfect time to see the incredible Namaqualand flower spectacle, and dry weather spells are ideal for night-time stargazing. South Africa’s clear skies means we have amazing stargazing locations, most relatively short drives away from major cities. In fact, South Africa’s ancient connection with the night sky and excellent star viewing opportunities is one of the reasons we have the Southern African Large Telescope (SALT), the largest single optical telescope in the southern hemisphere, based near Sutherland in the Northern Cape.
“Rural tourism is one of the assets that Mzansi should be pushing for everyone, locally and internationally, to explore. Many South Africans don’t know about some of the best rural treasures that their country has to offer – destinations that only Mzansi has to share with the world. It is for this reason that we encourage the hundreds of accommodations on our platform to leverage natural attractions and activities around them and highlight them so that travellers can better understand what is available to them before they book with us.”
Research the areas you are travelling to learn about any free activities in the area. Small towns often have seasonal festivals that are fun for the whole family to go to. The coming spring and summer months see a host of festivals across the country, such as the Magoebaskloof Spring Festival and the Hilton Arts Festival, both in September, the Hermanus Whale Festival in October, and the Ficksburg Cherry Festival in November. Look out, too, for farmer’s markets, museums, and artists’ galleries and studios that are free to pop into.
Carpooling saves money and provides security
With most of our cars barely dragging themselves along on the roads due to the exorbitant petrol price, a cost-effective option for enjoying out-of-town travel experiences is carpooling.
“Carpooling is a smart way for people to share travel expenses when they’re going to the same destination, and improves the safety aspect of the whole trip. It’s a better option than using public transport because you can stop and take pictures and enjoy the scenery and activities en route your destination,” advises Matlou.
Compare costs online
To have an idea of what you should put aside for you to have a comfortable travel experience, try to benchmark the prices, activities, and attractions online. Even if you are going out on a weekend trip with your friends, comparing prices will help you budget, so that you can allocate money to the right things.
While the high cost of living has many restrictions, the above travel hacks can help you explore Mzansi in all its majesty at a fraction of the price.