Travelling internationally is often a costly experience. Destinations in Europe, America and Asia are far away from South Africa, which usually means long flying times and connecting flights to get to your destination of choice.
The truth is that cost-conscious travel doesn’t have to be less fun and there are ways to stick to a budget when planning a trip abroad.
Cost-conscious international travel during Youth Month
This Youth Month, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines shares eight tips on cost-conscious travel abroad while ensuring that your overseas experience isn’t compromised.
1. Choose your destination carefully
With the South African Rand taking strain as the country continues to tackle various challenges, destinations abroad are naturally more expensive than here at home. However, there are many destinations where the exchange rate gets you good value, or somewhere that has a lower cost of living than here in South Africa. Asian destinations like Thailand and the Philippines, European destinations like Poland, Romania, Italy and Portugal and various American states are economical places to travel to.
2. Book in advance
Planning a trip a few months in advance can certainly be helpful to keep costs down. It is often cheaper, and less stressful, to book transport, accommodation and activities well in advance. Statistically, flights booked approximately five or six months ahead of travel are the cheapest and hotel prices increase as rooms get booked up. There are also several travel apps you can use to compare prices and make sure you are getting the best deal.
3. Travel light
When booking international flights, airlines like KLM Royal Dutch Airlines have cheaper alternatives to cut costs. The airline offers a Light ticket option for passengers seeking the lowest possible fare. This option ditches the checked-in bag and passengers fly only with hand luggage. Drinks and meals on board all KLM flights are still included in the ticket price for all passengers, so the overall flying experience isn’t compromised. This is a great way to save money on airline fares.
4. Avoid those pesky tourist traps
Big cities and tourist hotspots are often a lot more expensive than straying off the beaten track! While these hotspots may be tempting, oftentimes prices are incredibly inflated as a result of the bustling tourist scene around big cities. Avoid going to restaurants on a main strip, buying expensive souvenirs close to popular tourist attractions and book a hotel a little further out of the city centre.
5. Travel off season
The summer months bring in a flurry of tourists to major cities around the world. As a result, the demand for accommodation, travel and entrance to attractions increases significantly. Travelling to destinations in quieter months will have a major impact on the overall budget of a trip. Sure, the weather may not be the best, but this decision will help save you a whole lot of money. In addition, exploring a city without all the crowds makes off season travel well worth it.
6. Be prepared to share
When travelling, one of the biggest costs in addition to the flight is accommodation. However, opting for a hostel instead of a hotel is one way that will save travellers a whole lot of money on their adventures. When visiting a popular city, there is often so much to do and see. Hostels are the perfect place to set up a base and sleep at a minimal cost. Hostels are also a great place to meet people from all around the world and enjoy some great conversations while sharing travel tips. Additionally, most hostels even include free breakfast and WiFi in the price per night.
7. Take advantage of free experiences
Another top tip for cost-conscious travel is to look for free things to do wherever you’re heading. It could be that certain museums are free on certain days or that local events happening in the area. Many cities also offer “free walking tours” which are a great way of seeing the city you are visiting. While these tours are free, tour guides do make money off tips, so it is customary to give them some cash at the end of the tour. That said, it is still a cost-effective way to get insight into the city you’re visiting.
8. Don’t eat out every night
When travelling on a budget, eating out at restaurants every day can become incredibly costly. However, while you should enjoy some meals at restaurants, make use of ready-made meals at supermarkets or cook for yourself at your accommodation to keep the overall cost of your trip down. Even if you want to immerse yourself in the culture of your chosen destination, many supermarkets offer delicious, cheap meals that will ensure you are fed for cheap. Most hostels also have kitchen facilities available for everyone to use which means you can cook meals for yourself at a fraction of what they would have cost at a restaurant.