The theme of one of the questions I get asked most frequently is MONEY.
How do I afford to travel?
How do I save for my travel?
Am I just rich?
Let me start by saying that I am not a financial advisor and definitely can’t tell you the best ways to manage your money. Aaaaannd no I’m not rich. I have a full time job as a chemical engineer. That’s how I earn a living. I travel on weekends and when I am on leave.
What I will share in this post is the way I do it and some of the money saving lessons that I have learnt from my travels. It may not be the best way but it works for me. I would really love to hear what works for you.
1 Have a travel plan
I plan out my entire year of travels at the start of the year. This is never a detailed itinerary but an outline of the destinations with a rough idea of the dates of travel. Having your year planned out has a number of benefits which will become more clear as you continue to read this post. One of the obvious reasons is that you need to have an idea of how much money you will need. I find it best to set up my plan on a calendar template with the public holidays marked out. The year can fly by so quickly so plan plan plan.
2 How I save for travel
Because travel is so important to me I have a separate account dedicated to saving for travel. It is a joint account with my travel buddy. We each make a fixed monthly contribution to this account. Having a joint account with someone you trust helps to keep you accountable and stops you from being tempted to use the money on other things. It also helps that we earn interest on our combined contribution versus if we had separate accounts.
3 Make the most of sales
I love a good bargain. I follow every airline on social media so as to not miss out on flight sales. I retweet these sales on my Twitter page, @GophariTravel. You benefit most from sales if you have your travel plan in place. Flights are the biggest expense for international travel so you definitely do not want to miss out on great flight deals. Besides flights, there are also sometimes sales on packages. Remember to check the weather during the flight and package sale dates – they may be cheap because you will be traveling during rainy season.
Flights during off peak season are cheaper and off peak does not necessarily equate to the worst time to visit. For example, travelling to Greece during off peak (End of summer) meant less crowds and lots of sales but on the downside we did not get to experience the parties in Mykonos. Weigh your options and check the weather forecasts but overall it is great advice to travel during autumn instead of summer.
4 Earn Airbnb credit
This is one of the best working money cutting tips for accommodation! You can earn credit on Airbnb by inviting friends to sign up. If the person you invited signs up and makes a booking, they receive R600 off of their booking and you receive R300 travel credit. All of your earned travel credit is then automatically subtracted from the fee of your next Airbnb booking.
Sign up using my code for R600 off of your first Airbnb booking.
5 Travel packages vs planning yourself
Planning everything yourself versus buying a travel package gives you more opportunity to save. For example, read my blog post on how I planned a trip to Greece to see the cost breakdown. When you purchase a package you usually need to have a lump sum of money ready to pay all at once. However, when you plan everything yourself you can pay for flights this month and then accommodation later etc which eases the financial strain.
6 Do your research
I learn a lot from following other travel bloggers and gain a lot from the lessons learnt from their travels. One of my favourite is @Movewithdoyin. She’s always sharing so much useful knowledge on her Twitter page. I recently learnt from her to search for flights with secret mode enabled on my browser in order to disable browser cookies.
7 Be flexible
Some destinations are pricier than others. You may have written your travel plan and included a 7 night stay in New York but after checking flight prices find that this is way out of your budget. Be flexible enough to consider a destination that you can afford more easily. There are certain destinations which are less heavy on the pocket and just as thrilling. I have listed some on a previous blog post about VISA free, Rand friendly destinations
8 Travel local
Living in South Africa is such a blessing. Each of the nine provinces is so unique and has something new to offer. This makes local travel very thrilling. I have especially enjoyed traveling Mpumalanga and visiting the Eastern Cape. This year I hope to travel to the Northern Cape. Plan a road trip with friends for a weekend away, split the petrol costs, book an Airbnb and enjoy this beautiful country.