Tips on how to reduce your holiday costs abroad

By Staff Writer
By Hennie Pretorius, journalist, Justmoney
 
 
1. Use apps
There is a mobile app for just about everything today. And they can help us save money.
 
Skyscanner is a free mobile app compatible with a variety of mobile platforms. It allows you to search for cheap flights. This handy app allows savvy travellers to compare the cheapest flights and dates to travel. Search by take-off and landing time, airline or price.
 
A second app worth obtaining, which unfortunately is only compatible with Apple devices, is Free-Wifi-Finder. It will help you to find free WiFi hotspots in more than 50 countries worldwide.
 
Data costs are expensive, especially when you are roaming. This app will save you a lot of money, allowing you to communicate with your loved ones for free.
 
2. Travel outside of peak season:
There are many benefits to travelling outside of peak season. For one thing you miss out on the crowds. More importantly, many in the tourist industry reduce their rates to attract more business. You will be able to pay less for flights, tours, hotels and even restaurants.
 
However, off-peak seasons in South Africa do not always coincide with off-peak seasons abroad. Make sure you are familiar with the country of interest’s off-peak season. You can use Tripadvisor to help you find off-peak seasons abroad - for some useful tips on off-peak travel visit smarttravel.com.
 
3. Compare flight prices before booking
Usually the most expensive part of an overseas holiday is the price of your airline ticket. Make sure you do your research before purchasing your ticket. Booking far in advance often reduces the cost of the ticket.
 
To save time Flightstart offers an online platform where you can compare ticket prices for both local and international travel. Once you have found a suitable flight you can book it straight away. All you have to do is type in a departure city, a destination city and the dates and click the start button.
 
4. Turn off data roaming
Most cell phone companies provide data roaming. Data roaming allows you to access the internet from outside of your home country giving you access to email or even your company’s network.
 
Reduced data rates are usually offered by cell phone companies but are still extremely expensive. Vodacom for example will notify you at every R5000 of data used.
 
Before you decide to travel, check with your cell phone provider on costs related to roaming. It’s cheaper to purchase a prepaid sim card once you are at your destination to use while you are abroad.
 
5. Get sponsored
This tip might not work for everyone but it most certainly works for some. South African newlywed Suhaifa Naidoo, who is a digital marketing manager at Realmdigital, has secured sponsorship to travel across parts of the United States of America over a specified number of hours.
 
Suhaifa will be departing from New York in December 2014, ending in San Francisco. Some of the cities to be travelled through include Dallas, Las Vegas and Los Angeles. To date $2.371 (R25 288) has been raised, with a goal of $6000 (R63 992) to be reached by December.
 
When looking for sponsorship it is important to offer some form of exposure. A blog site works well as long as it is well maintained. Visit Suhaifa at fiftyhoursinacar.com to find out more.
 
6. Couch surfing/house swopping
Perhaps more suited for the young at heart, Couchsurfing started in 2004 when a group of students realised there were people abroad who would be willing to open-up their doors to complete strangers in order to provide a place to stay for those on a tight holiday budget.
 
It connects nine million people in 120 thousand countries.
 
Security is important and a number of tips can be found on their site such as:
 
Always trust your instincts. 
Review profiles and references.
Communicate through Couchsurfing to get a better sense of who they are.
If you feel uncomfortable – leave.
 
House swopping is also popular. Homeexchange has over 55 thousand members. You can register your home with them and benefit from a range of destinations offering houses for exchange, saving on accommodation costs.
 
It is always a good idea to do your research before committing to Couchsurfing or Homeexchange. You don’t want to become a victim of crime.
 
7. Save on bank charges
Knowing how to avoid bank fees and securing a good exchange rate will save you more money than you think. International ATM fees and credit card transaction fees are inflated.
 
Nomadicmatt.com lists some important tips on how to avoid these unnecessary charges.
 
Choose a bank belonging to the Global ATM Network which offers reduced rates when withdrawing from an ATM.  ABSA is one of the South African banks which form part of the alliance.
 
It is also advisable to arrange foreign currency and traveller’s cheques with your bank before you go.
 
8. Save through reward programmes
Sugendhree Reddy, head of personal banking, Standard Bank, points out that South Africans are increasingly financially stretched and tightening their belts more than before.
 
Being able to save through rewards programmes can aid towards saving towards that dream holiday.
 
Standard Bank’s UCount rewards programme enables customers to convert their rewards points into savings, to be used towards a holiday, to book and pay for flights, car hire or accommodation through the UCount Travel Mall.
 
The Avios travel rewards programme is also worth considering. Supplied by Absa, you earn Avios for every rand spent. You receive Avios when filling up at BP with your Avios credit card. You can also earn Avios with your Pick n Pay Smartshopper card. When you have enough Avios you can purchase your air ticket to a destination of your choice.
 
You can visit www.avios.com for more information including a guide where you can use your Avios and an online calculator to help keep track of your Avios.
 
9. Be ready to go at any time
Being prepared for last minute deals is another way to save on holidays abroad. This might be for the more adventurous as it lacks a bit of planning. But if you are able to go as soon as a deal is announced you could save lots of money.
 
10. Follow the rules
It may sound like a killjoy to say this but following the rules could save you money in the long run. For example, knowing the terms and conditions of your travel insurance is essential. You don’t want to end up in a position where your hospital bills are not paid because you went skiing off piste while your insurer doesn’t cover this activity.
 
Going on holiday can be fun. It is even more pleasing when you can do it on a budget that suits your wallet.

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