Nothing is cheap nowadays, you say? Well, perhaps you are right. Actually, you are definitely right! But, believe it or not, there are ways to travel at minimum cost. I know this because it is the only way I have ever travelled; on a serious budget.
Flights, especially from South Africa, will almost always be one of, if not, the most expensive part of your trip. This certainly doesn't look set to change any time soon, even with the great deals you find with Flight Centre. And we ordinary folk can’t influence the price of international flights much. So let’s take a look at a few things we can control while we travel.
Make a budget
Allot a certain amount of money to each day of your trip and don’t go too far over that sum, if possible. It’s easier said than done, I know. I almost always go over budget but I like to have a vague guideline to keep track of how (and where to) my money is fast disappearing.
Look for alternative accommodation
There are so many accommodation options out there these days; see couch surfing, house sitting or renting an apartment. If you prefer something a little more traditional, broaden your search. Whether you are looking for a youth hostel, a bed and breakfast, a hotel or self catering options, there are always good deals if you are willing to take some time to find them.
Use public transport
Coming from a country like South Africa where a public transport system is virtually non-existent, you will be amazed and surprised by the efficiency and convenience of trains, taxis (tuk-tuks, jeepneys, rickshaws too) and buses in most south-east Asian and European countries. Moving around in this manner also gives one a great idea of how the local people live.
Sample the local food. I cannot stress this enough. Sometimes, you’ll find that the little street restaurant in the alleyway serves some of the most delicious food you’ve tasted. Besides, eating the local food of the country you’re visiting is half the experience. Also, find out what the deal is with tipping at restaurants. In some countries, tipping is expected. In others, it is offensive. And in many places, a service charge is already included in the bill. Be careful not to pay more than you have to.
Self-catering is an option for longer stays too. There is no need to eat every meal at a restaurant. Choose one meal a day to eat out and the rest of the time, shop at the supermarkets for easy foods to keep at your accommodation.
My great travel weakness is over-packing. Pack as little as possible. Work out what you really need and leave the rest at home. This will save on baggage costs, especially if you are flying with budget airlines.
Do your research. Read as many travel and personal blogs as you can before you leave for your destination. It is great to get an idea about a place from other like-minded people. You’ll also find great tips about what to see and what to avoid, how to move smoothly through tricky immigration situations and which areas to stay in.
Think about travelling in the low season. You’ll find some really great deals on flights, accommodation and tour packages. The places you are visiting might be less crowded too, an added bonus.
By: Philippa Francis