Tips on how to reduce your holiday costs abroad

By Staff Writer

Travelling abroad offers many benefits, such as broadening your mind, and allowing you to interact with people of different cultures. In terms of growth opportunities, there are few like it.

However, these experiences, now more than ever, are costly - particularly when it comes to the comparative value of foreign currencies. The following tips can help you to mitigate the expense.

1. Use apps

There's a mobile app for just about everything now, and these can help you save money.

Skyscanner is a free app that allows you to search for cheap flights and compare them by date of travel. Search by take-off and landing time, airline or price.

Wifi Finder is another handy app that will help you find free Wi-Fi hotspots internationally. Data costs are expensive, especially when you are roaming – and, if you have just landed, you may not have any local currency to buy a SIM. Paid hotspots are also listed on the app, should you wish to opt for a faster and more secure connection.

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 – a big plus during a pandemic. Just as importantly, many in the tourism industry reduce their rates to attract more business. You will likely pay less for flights, tours, hotels, restaurants and attractions.

However, it’s important to note that off-peak seasons in South Africa don’t always coincide with those abroad. You can use Tripadvisor to help you work these out.

3. Compare flight prices before booking

Usually, the most expensive part of an overseas holiday is the price of your flights. Make sure you do your research before purchasing your tickets. Booking far in advance often reduces the cost, and gives you more time to find two-for-one offers and other special deals.

4. Turn off data roaming

Most cell phone companies provide data roaming. Reduced data rates are usually offered, but the cost is still extremely high. 

Be sure to check the costs, and/or deactivate the service prior to travelling. It’s cheaper to purchase a prepaid SIM card once you are at your destination.

5. Get sponsored

This tip is certainly not for everyone, but it can work for avid bloggers and vloggers who have, or can develop, a loyal following. It’s important to offer exposure to your prospective sponsor’s desired audiences, in order to make the deal worthwhile for them.

6. Couchsurfing/house swapping

Perhaps more suited to the young at heart, couchsurfing started in the late nineties when a group of students realised there were people abroad who would be willing to open their doors to complete strangers in order to provide a place to stay to those on a tight holiday budget. was launched in the early 2000’s, and now connects several million people in 207 countries.

Security is important and a number of tips can be found on the couchsurfing site such as:

  • Always trust your instincts
  • Review profiles and references
  • Communicate through the platform to get a better sense of who the hosts are
  • If you feel uncomfortable – leave

House swapping is also popular. offers a range of destinations where travellers offer their homes in exchange for yours, saving you both considerable accommodation fees. The big catch, of course, is that you need to have a home to offer, and, as with Couchsurfing, you need to research carefully. You don’t want to become a victim of crime.

7. Save on bank charges

Knowing how to avoid bank fees and secure a good exchange rate will save you more money than you think. International ATM and credit card transaction fees tend to be overinflated.

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 that form part of the alliance.

It’s also advisable to arrange foreign currency with your bank before you go.

8. Save through reward programmes

Saving through reward programmes can help you achieve a dream holiday that may otherwise be outside your reach.

Standard Bank’s UCount programme, for example, enables customers to convert their rewards points into savings, or book and pay for flights, car hire, or accommodation through the UCount Travel Mall.

9. Be ready to go at any time

Being prepared for last-minute deals is another way to save on holidays abroad. This is generally for the more adventurous, as you may not be able to plan very far ahead. However, if you are able to go as soon as a deal is announced, you could save a lot of money.

10. Follow the rules

Fun though it isn’t compared to the above, knowing your travel suppliers’ 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, but your insurer doesn’t cover this activity.

Going on holiday can be your greatest life adventure. It’s even more exciting when you can do it on a budget that suits your wallet.

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