Ever been bitten by the travel bug but couldn’t make it happen because of financial constraints? Read on to find useful tips to plan and execute a trip that won’t break your budget.
Buy holiday package deals and coupons
Package deals are bundles’ that consolidate the best prices of airlines and hotels. Hotels and airlines may have lower prices they do not publish and share these only with tour agents. They may also include other add-on items like recreational activities, sightseeing trips and other bonus incentives.
Packages are a great way to save money, time and energy when you do not want to spend too much and too long planning your trip. Select one that matches your needs and budget. Websites such as CouponsHQ, Tours of Australia and Escape Travel offer great package deals and coupons and help you search according to your preferences.
Travel during the off-season
Rather than travelling during popular seasons like summer and Christmas break, travel in the off-season so you can score great discounts and deals online by tour operators who are trying to encourage travel during the lean season.
However, be cautious! Some seasons are not advisable to travel in because of excessive rain, tornados, cyclones, extreme heat etc. Watch for the storm seasons and be smart about choosing when to travel. A bargain is not a bargain in peak typhoon season.
Experience over destination
The cost of airfare has increased by nearly 22% due to rising fuel costs over the past decade. Many people can no longer afford to travel to faraway, costly destinations especially if their family is large. The solution? Focus on cheaper destinations close by and research the different recreational activities you and your family or friends can do together.
Stick to local, low-cost airlines for domestic travel
For domestic travel, stick to the local, low-cost ones that offer cheap flights between cities. For example, for travel between major Australian cities, use airlines like Tiger Airways, Jetstar and Virgin Blue that are almost always cheaper than, say, Qantas. They may not be as glamorous but will get you where you need to go. Compare flight costs before you book your tickets.
Always weigh your baggage before leaving for the airport and make sure it falls within the airline’s required weight limit to avoid paying an additional fee for it. That includes carry-on luggage which more airlines are becoming quite strict about. If it adds an extra $100 each way to your airline ticket, pack light instead and leave your excess baggage at home.
Watch out for freebies
There are certain museums, parks, art galleries and campgrounds all over Australia that offer free entry and can be a lot of fun for families. Keep your eyes peeled for free passes; free entry, free tours and you’ll be well within your budget.
Stock up on groceries
To avoid eating out too often on your vacation especially if you’re travelling with kids, stock up on basic groceries like bread, milk, cereal, peanut butter, instant oatmeal etc. If you never eat out for breakfast at home, you can save a lot by eating a quick breakfast in your hotel room before you leave for the day.
Save on Hotels and Couch surf’
It’s a new trend that is saving intrepid single people a lot of money and it’s called couch surfing’. It’s an online group of hosts who offer free beds (or couches) to travellers, and travellers looking for free beds. In Australia, Sydney has nearly 13,000 couch surfers and Melbourne has more than 15,000. It is also a great way to meet new people and get ideas for fun activities from local residents.
Avoid Roaming Charges
Swap your home SIM for a local SIM if you’re travelling abroad to avoid being charged for international roaming. It’s unnecessarily expensive and completely avoidable. Why come home to a big cell phone bill as a souvenir of your vacation? Avoid it entirely or purchase a local pay-as-you-go phone on vacation if you must stay in touch. Remember to use Skype and Google+ Hangout’s online to stay in touch with family back home.
The Exchange Rate Advantage
Make best use of the exchange rate and plan trips to countries where your currency can go far. For example, an Australian dollar will get you a lot more in countries like Thailand, Argentina and India than in England or America. Make the exchange rate work to your advantage.
Be flexible when it comes to destinations and, to a certain extent, dates. Do not be rigid on where you want to go because you may miss out on some fantastic deals. Flexibility can take your dollar much further than you can imagine. Say you want to go to Jamaica but there’s a better deal to fly to Hawaii instead. You still get the sun, sand and sea but for a whole lot less!
Go for a Walk
Walk as much as you can! In some cities, public transport is expensive and can be completely avoided by just walking everywhere. Another advantage of walking is you get to imbibe all the local sights and sounds that you would normally miss if you just rode past in a taxi or bus. Walk, look around you and absorb what you can. And in doing so, save a few bucks.
Don’t let your budget crimp your travel plans. The world is a big and amazing place full of opportunities to see and do exciting things. Learn to be creative and research your options to find the best deals at the best prices. Hunting for travel bargains is part of the fun, when you tell your friends where you went and how little you paid.
Map of Cape Town Photo Gallery