Travel: How to stretch your travel budget once the borders open up
After months of unanticipated pay cuts, job losses and stretching savings, we’ll need these tips to cheapen our travel when the world opens up again.
Months, or wishfully, even weeks from now, the pandemic will eventually subside, our resilient world will patch up its bruises, and international flights will, once more, be welcomed across our globe. After ages of being cooped up in our homes, we will sorely thirst for travel. However, after the virus has ravaged our economies, we’ll need to carefully consider plans and itineraries so that they’re catered for by our altered budgets.
Consider visa-free countries
At present, South Africans can access 64 countries visa free, and another 39 countries that allow visa on arrival. Visiting one of these countries will enable saving visa application fees and associated costs which pile up incredibly quickly.
A Schengen visa, for example, which permits entry to one or all of 26 participant European countries, including popular travel destinations like France, Spain, Italy and Germany, costs around R1600 at present (dependent on currency fluctuations, and equivalent to €80). This excludes courier fees if you are opting to have your completed application and passport couriered to you, photo fees, and travel insurance. Travel insurance is a compulsory prerequisite for this visa. A travel insurance quote on a popular provider’s website, for one month’s coverage for the Schengen Area, approximates to €80 (also, at present, around R1600). Before paying for flights and accommodation, you’re likely to already have spent over R3 000.
Compare, compare, compare
Too many contradictory sites and companies claim to offer the best value, all-round packages. Be sure to compare as many as possible in order to ensure you secure the most competitive rates. Additionally, add the cost of the cheapest stand-alone flight ticket and look for separate accommodation on popular booking platforms, including Airbnb, and assess whether the sum of these may be cheaper than tailored packages on offer. You’ll only know after detailed comparisons and research.
Book accommodation with a kitchen
Food is a costly and inevitable expense. Unless you’re travelling in a country where the cost of living is low, eating at restaurants constantly and daily take outs add up considerably. Of course, you probably aren’t going to be willing to cook up gourmet meals, but quick snacks, and even breakfasts can easily be whipped up by yourself and for a fraction of the cost. Stock up on groceries at the local store or convenience mart with ingredients that are easy to prepare, and you’ll be surprised at the ease, efficiency and most importantly, savings.
Travel to a country where the rand is strong
It’s no secret that our economy, like most others, is in grave danger. We’ve recently been downgraded to junk status, and the rand is strikingly weak against currencies like the euro, pound and dollar. Travel to countries like Thailand, Vietnam and India, where the rand still reigns stronger. There is nothing more painful than paying the equivalent of almost R70 for a head of broccoli or R40 for an avocado. Being in a country whose own currency is weaker than the Rand will allow you to occasionally splurge without hurting your pocket, and not to mention, daily expenses will almost be pleasurable and preferable.
Budget travel and cost-cutting is absolutely possible, and there’s no reason that the pandemic should halt our future travel too. Safe (and healthy) travels!
This content has been created as part of our freelancer relief programme. We are supporting journalists and freelance writers impacted by the economic slowdown caused by #lockdownlife.
If you are a freelancer looking for a small fee to contribute to The South African, read more here.