When Value Added Tax (VAT) went up, I honestly didn’t care, I thought to myself, “what’s a couple of rands more?”
Then again, I don’t remember VAT ever being an important factor in my life. Or maybe I just wasn’t employed at that time or paying any bills, leaving me unaffected.
I can honestly confirm, I’m currently deeply affected. This has really dented my holiday budget and with the amount of public holidays we have in SA, who can’t help but feel the pinch?
It used to be that one would plan trips around public holidays. Not anymore. Booking rates go up around that time and with the added extra, it makes it harder to travel.
So what’s the solution when you love to travel but you have to tighten your budget?
1. Give yourself time. Look at your calendar and plan accordingly. This sounds like obvious advice but actually your timing will make all the difference.
A close friend flew to the Philippines and got a ticket for around R600. I kid you not, this was all due to her timing. She’d been planning the trip for over six months and would check Asian airlines daily for different rates. She also did a bit of airport hopping by booking different flights at different airports. This adds a few more hours but works out cheaper.
Next is clearing browser cookies. When one is searching for tickets and bookings online, your computer will save your searches. I’ve been advised that if you don’t clear your cookies, the rate will get higher the more often you browse or log on.
This is because your online behaviour is tracked via the subject of your search. When you visit the same site repeatedly, you start to appear desperate. When booking agencies are aware of this, they charge you more.
2. Group travel is perfect for the budget traveller, and pre-planning will allow a group of friends to open a travel account and save monthly until it’s reached the amount you need.
3. Sacrifice sleeping in a hotel for a bed and breakfast. Hotel rates tend to increase when the demand is high but many B&Bs will offer a standard fixed rate.
ALSO READ: How to travel without breaking the bank
4. Work travel has become more popular over the years. It used to be just taking a gap year after matric and back-packing through a country, living on the budget you started with.
These days, NGOs offer opportunities to work and travel while improving your skills on your CV and making the world a better place. This is perfect if you have a child in high school who hasn’t decided what profession they want to go into.
A colleague worked in the Amazon for an NGO while getting the opportunity to travel through Brazil and South America. NGO travel work is generally in what would be viewed as exotic destinations such as India, Nepal and Kenya.
5. Make friends. Yes, talk to people when you travel.
There are so many hidden bargains that can be found by just communicating. A local can show you the finest markets, the best and safest way to travel and even inform you of the cheapest time to travel to the country.
6. Subscribe to online booking sites and book your trips via travel websites like Booking.com and Hotels.com. Phoning the reception of a hotel and booking online will offer you completely different rates.
At times the rate is so different, it could be 40% less if you book online.