1. Consider all costs
When choosing where you want to go on holiday, think about your spending money when you arrive. For example, recent research points to Thailand as a great spot for day-to-day bargain hunting.
Travel agents need to compete with the web, so use this to your advantage. Research prices, then barter with the agents to create a package that includes a discount or freebies like an extra night in a hotel, or insurance.
3. Get covered
Check out comparison sites, such as hippo.co.za, for deals on travel insurance and take it out as soon as possible in case you have to cancel your holiday or flight. Prices vary depending on your requirements, but we looked for couples’ cover to Italy and the difference between the cheapest and most expensive cover for the same package was over R200!
4. The new craze
With sites like airbnb.com or homeexchange.com you can rent someone’s house or flat to stay in while they’re away – it’s more personal and much cheaper than a hotel.
5. Bargain-hunting websites
If you’re looking for a cheap package deal at the last minute, try holidayfactory.co.za. If you just need a flight, go to pricecheck.co.za. For hotels, check the ‘Best Value’ section on tripadvisor.com.
6. Know the new cheap destinations
There are exciting destinations where the rand can still get you far if you know where to look for the best deals. The Phillipines, Indonesia and Vietnam are popular for bargain hunters, as is India. If you’re looking to experience the more budget side of South America, go for Brazil. Visit thompsons.co.za for great ideas on package holidays.
7. Stock up
Holiday must-haves, such as sun cream and mozzie spray, tend to cost more in tourist resorts than at home – so try to buy before you go.
8. Book car hire before you go…
…not when you turn up. This can usually save you 25% when pre-booking through a comparison website. Try skyscanner.net, which is easy to use and tends to find good prices. And make sure you set the currency to rands.
9. Check special offers
For quick and affordable specials, sign up at flightcentre.co.za for an email alert on the top travel packages on offer. For example, a 10-day Greek island-hopping holiday could cost as little as R11 590, but you do need to be flexible about your dates. They also run flash sales offering some fantastic deals – but they get booked quickly. Also try suretravel.co.za.
10. The cheap way to pay
Use a 0% on new purchases credit card if you won’t be able to pay off the bill in full – then you could have a couple of interest-free months to pay back your holiday. Or, if you’re sure you’ll pay off your credit card in full, get rewarded by using a cashback credit card or rewards card, such as an FNB eBucks card.
11. Travel light
Budget airlines aren’t always the cheapest as some have lower baggage weight restrictions – meaning you need to pay for heavier items. Check first, then pack the bare minimum so you don’t have to pay for excess weight.
12. Save on calls and data
If you want to go on Facebook or check emails while abroad, turn off your 3G and use free WiFi. Also, check what your service provider offers for overseas calls and SMSes, or buy a local SIM card when you arrive.
13. Grab a voucher
When we checked, groupon.co.za had a 50% discount on a seven-day tour to Budapest, Vienna and Prague – so why are you waiting?
14. Calling home…
Download the Viber app to get free voice calls and SMSes between Viber users, worldwide. It will even check your contacts list and tag the friends who have also signed up to Viber. Or, get free calls with the Skype app – you can also load credit and make calls to landlines back home.
15. Cut overseas credit card fees
Avoid carrying excess cash and get a pre-paid currency card like the Travelex Cash Passport. It incurs minimal fees and can be cancelled if it’s stolen. These cards are the new traveller’s cheques. If you’re planning to use your debit or credit card abroad, check out the fees charged for doing so before you go.
Tip: Look for cards that offer you fee-free top-ups!
16. Travel out of season
You can save a lot of money (a whole holiday’s worth, in fact) if you’re flexible and can travel in the low season. Plan well, and the weather will still be perfect.
17. Avoid rip-off airport parking
Don’t just park in the closest spot to the terminal! Most airports offer long-term parking. Do your research and find the cheapest parking for the amount of time you’ll be gone. Visit acsa.co.za.
18. Get a better exchange rate
Airports, hotels and informal exchangers offer the worst rates. Buy foreign currency online and pick it up at the airport, or get it delivered free to your home or office. Contact your bank for a competitive rate. Or you can order euros or US dollars at travelex.co.za and pick them up at the airport the next day.
19. Ask for lower rates
Consider staying in one hotel or lodge for a few extra nights. Many places offer a third or fourth night free. If you’re staying in a different hotel within the same group, ask for lower ‘circuit’ rates – which apply if you’re spending a long time within one group. But do ask – these aren’t always advertised.
20. Get the apps
Only use these apps abroad if you have access to free WiFi!
- XE Currency, free. Immediate currency conversions based on the most recent rates. Great!
- iTranslate Voice, R16. We love this. Speak to your mobile for instant translations in 36 languages!
- TripAdvisor, free. Look up hotels, restaurants and things to do wherever you go.
- AroundMe, free. Find out what to do at any destination, from local restaurants, to bars, car parks or banks nearby.
- WiFi Finder, free. Download locations offline to take with you to find WiFi spots. With over 650 000 locations, you’ll find what you’re looking for.