Tips to travel on a budget

Image: Pexels

The plummeting rand and soaring airfares have made the idea of jetting off on an overseas holiday a pipe dream for many South Africans.

According to Marlies Kappers, head of marketing at Direct Axis, by combining careful planning and some insider tips you could find yourself turning your dream holiday into reality sooner than you thought.

Airfares are going to account for a chunk of your budget

The secret here is understanding how airlines manage their seat sales.

The price of airline tickets per cabin is determined by the terms and conditions attached to it. The more restrictive the conditions the less you pay.

For example, if you are flying in economy but you want to be able to change your date of travel at a minimal cost, you will pay much more for the ticket than someone in the seat next to you, who opted for a less flexible type of ticket.

You get the best discount by booking well in advance as airlines try to sell the cheaper, less flexible tickets first. They know these seats will sell quickly.

To make sure customers do not change their minds at the last minute and leave them with unsold inventory, airlines charge substantial penalties for any changes to these cheap bookings.

The closer it is to the departure date and the fewer seats are left, the more people pay.

Try and book during times of low demand

Prices tend to be higher during school holidays or around major sporting events. The festive season should be avoided unless you are happy to travel on Christmas Day or New Year’s Eve, when demand is typically low.

The internet is a powerful tool for travellers and will let you compare airfares

Carriers flying via a stopover point often charge less than those that operate directly.

Be sure however, that this is not a false economy as you may need to spend money on something to eat and drink during a long layover. Transfers also increase the chances of lost luggage.

When considering your route, visa costs are something else to take into account

You can usually find information on visa requirements and costs on the country’s website.

The internet is also a good way to find and compare accommodation

Once you have narrowed down your choices it is worth double-checking they deliver what the website promises on review sites such as TripAdvisor.

Once you’ve got your trip booked, plan what you are going to do when you get there

Pre-booking activities can save you money and also makes it easier to stick to your travel budget. Doing things on a whim when you get there can be expensive.

While the internet is an invaluable tool for today’s travellers, there is no substitute for first-hand experience

If you know someone who has visited your dream destination, glean all the information you can, both good and bad. Find out about the experiences not to miss as well as the rip-offs.

Use all the knowledge you’ve accumulated to put together a daily budget

Remember to include accommodation, sightseeing, food and a small contingency. If you do not spend the spare money, use it to treat yourself or put it towards your next trip.

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