How to travel on a budget - Part 2

“When preparing to travel, lay out all your clothes and all your money. Then take half the clothes and twice the money.” Susan Heller

Luggage consisting of large suitcases rucksacks and travel bag

Save on extra baggage costs

  • Carry a luggage scale with you and check the weight of your baggage before going to the airport to see that your baggage is within the airline’s acceptable limit. You may need to leave those hotel soaps and shampoos behind.
  • Carry a collapsible cloth bag in your luggage to accommodate the extra shopping you did. I had to buy an extra bag on holiday once or twice but now I always carry a collapsible cloth bag with me. Cape Union Mart has great collapsible knapsacks that fold into a size smaller than a knapsack.


Save on laundry

Do not use the hotel’s laundry service unless it’s really urgent or it’s free. Find a cheap self-service laundromat where you can do your laundry while on holiday. If you can’t find one, then wash your clothes yourself. I always carry some washing powder/detergent on long trips to wash essentials. If there is a bath tub I wash the clothes in there and if there isn’t I use the wash basin. Washing clothes also enables you to carry less luggage by wearing the ones you have with you more often.

Save money on food

  • Stay in self-catering units if you can. There will usually be a supermarket nearby where you can stock up on groceries and other essentials to make your own food. This is particularly useful when travelling with children – who get hungry every hour - or if you have specific dietary requirements which you will best be able to cater for. It will be much cheaper than eating at restaurants.
  • If you’re not an early riser, having a late breakfast and then an early evening meal allows you to save on one meal a day. Even if you are an early riser, have some coffee and rusk when you wake up then indulge in your hotel’s breakfast buffet as late as they will allow you to.
  • Eat where the locals eat. Avoid the tourist trap restaurants in the busy tourist areas and see where the locals eat. The décor may not be the best but the food will be more authentic and the prices much more attractive. If you’re happy with the hygiene, experience the street food too.

Save money on transport

If the country you’re travelling to has a good public transport system, use it, by all means. We use the buses and the metro wherever we can. The schedules and routes are not difficult to figure out. Avoid taxis if you can. They are expensive and/or are likely to defraud you. If you have to use a taxi, make sure it’s metered (and the meter is on) and the taxi driver has agreed to charge the meter price. Typical taxi woes include taxi drivers changing the price once you’ve reached your destination, telling you that they quoted you in US dollars which are much stronger than the local currency you thought you were being charged in and charging you extra for luggage which you were not told beforehand. I, and people I know, have been victims of these scams. So now, I avoid taxis as far as I can.


Save on communication

  • Do not put your phone on roaming unless you are fully aware of the charges and are willing to accept them. My husband learnt this the hard way when he tried to use internet banking on roaming while in the Middle East. He incurred R4500 worth of data charges. I've heard of other people getting data charges of R50000 too.
  • If you are on MTN or Vodacom you can put your phone on SMS roaming. Sending an SMS will cost you around R2,75 and receiving an SMS is free.
  • Communicate with your loved ones using email and Skype. Most hotels have free wi-fi these days. If you have to phone someone on a phone, buy a local SIM card with airtime.

Save on travel agent fees - DIY

If you know what you’re doing, do-it-yourself. Unless they’re selling a pre-packaged special deal for specific dates, travel agents usually add a high mark-up. They do remove the hassle factor though - usually - so you’d have to weigh the pros and cons. My Malaysia trip cost me R21 000 for a family of four for accommodation in four cities over three weeks and transfers from city to city.  Travel agents were quoting me R35 000 for the same arrangements using similar hotels.

If you decide that you would prefer to go with a travel agent, then consider doing it this way - book your flights yourself, then find a reputable budget travel agent in the country you're visiting (via a reliable travel forum) and ask them for a quote. Chances are that they will be cheaper than a local travel agent.

Read Part 1 on "How to travel on a budget".

Do you have any tips on how to save money when travelling? Please do share them in the comments below.

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