Pay less for travel

I’m Farirai, I’m 27 and I really love to travel. I’m not a full time traveler as many assume. I work full time as a chemical engineer in South Africa. I travel when I’m on leave and on weekends. I started this travel blog, Gophari, to share the lessons I learn from my travels. The goal is to empower more Africans to travel their country and the world.

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Ok now let’s get into the topic of this post…

How to keep your travel expenses low

I get a thrill out of paying as little as possible when I travel. So I decided to write this so that you can start cutting your travel expenses down too. Everything in this post are things I have done that actually work.

Flights

airplane wing towards clouds
Photo by Sheila on Pexels.com

So flights have been the trickiest for me. I’ve spent a lot of time reading up about ways of getting cheap flights. Some tips I’ve read before include booking on Tuesday & putting your browser on secret mode. I do both but I’m not sure if they are really helping. For me, these two methods have actually worked:

Flight tip #1- Avoid traveling during popular times

The prices sky rocket over public holidays because the demand is high. Return flights to Mauritius over Easter weekend this year were about R20000 but I have paid R5800 for return flights during other periods. The difference really can be that big!

This is quite sad because the public holidays are when a lot of us finally have free time to travel. If traveling locally on a public holiday, consider other ways to get there – more on this later in this post.

Flight tip #2 – Use Skyscanner flight tracking

Skyscanner is a flight comparison website. It has this really cool feature that allows you to track the price of a flight without having to keep going back to a website to see if a flight price has changed. Instead, you receive email notifications every time the price of the flight you want to book increases or decreases.

Screenshot from Skyscanner showing where to click for price alerts

I have really found this useful for trips that I am planning a few months in advance. Why pay more when you can wait to see the direction that the price is going and pay less instead?

Accommodation

Accommodation tip #1 – Earn Airbnb credit

If you don’t already know, Airbnb is an accommodation app/website that allows people to rent out their homes or rooms for short stays. I use it often when I travel because it allows me to stay in spacious, self catered spaces for low prices.

Airbnb let’s you earn money by sharing Airbnb with others. I wrote a quick step by step explanation about how to earn credit on airbnb in my previous post. You lose nothing from trying so why not just do it. It has worked for me. I barely pay anything for accommodation because I have earned thousands from this method.

2) Accommodation tip #2 – Collaborate with brands

As a travel blogger, I use my social media pages and website as platforms to share about brands in exchange for sponsored stays. I do it by writing a proposal that I email to brands. Then I wait in anticipation for their response.

I understand that not everyone has a blog or is interested in blogging but maybe you have a different skill that you can offer in exchange instead.

Maybe you are great at creating websites and would be able to do some improvements to their site? Maybe you are a talented photographer and can offer them high quality images of their accommodation? Whatever it is, make a pitch, you will be surprised at what your skills can get you in return.

This is another method that is worth a try. Always tell yourself that the worst that can happen is that they say no or don’t reply. And that doesn’t matter! You lose nothing.

Travel for less in South Africa

I have done a lot of travel within South Africa. It’s actually one of my favourite things to do. Traveling locally can be expensive if you don’t do it right. This is how I keep my costs low:

SA travel tip #1 Consider taking the bus

I know the sound of taking the bus makes some people cringe. I get it, I used to feel that way. Buses are slow and it’s the less appealing way to travel but they get you there for less.

Last month, I really wanted to go to Tsitsikamma in Eastern Cape over a long weekend. At first, I was only looking at flights and as you can imagine after reading the first tip in this post, the flights were so expensive due to the public holiday. Return flights were about R4000! No ways was I going to pay that.

I ended up getting return bus tickets for R930. To make it better, the drive did not feel like a drag and a waste of time because I opted for the night bus. This meant we travelled through the night when I would have been sleeping anyway. WINNING

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Smiling at Tsitsikamma because I got there without buying flights

You can book a bus ticket from Computicket or directly from each bus-line (is that the right word? Just thought it could be because of the word airline). I booked my tickets telephonically by calling Greyhound.

SA travel tip #2 – Get advice from travel blogs

There is no need to go to a place and figure things out on your own. Especially within the country you are from.

There are so many South African travel bloggers sharing informative posts about every place you could think of visiting in South Africa. Because of this and being able to ask friends, colleagues or even broadcasting a question on social media, there is a lot that you don’t need to figure out by yourself.

Screenshot of blog post by Expat Panda about SA travel bloggers

Knowing what to expect, before you get there can save you money. For example, if you knew that you can hike Table Mountain for free and that the route is marked out, you won’t pay a guide to take you up. No joke, some people are paying R650 to hike a free mountain.

If you’re looking for some more detailed information about places in South Africa, I have blog posts about:

Mpumalanga

Eastern Cape

Kwa-Zulu Natal

Western Cape

Gauteng

& road trip options from Johannesburg

Check these out for some advice before you travel and feel free to leave a question in the comments for more information.

SA travel tip #3 – Consider staying at a hostel

If you can’t get accommodation for free, then at least pay as little as possible by staying at a hostel.

My perception of hostels has completely changed. I honestly did not consider hostels before because the word makes me think of a school camp set up. I like comfort and luxury. If I could always stay 5 star I would.

Ok back to the point- I recently stayed at Curiocity Hostels in Durban and my world was shaken. I stayed in a beautifully decorated private room which had its own bathroom.

Then when I was in Tsitsikamma, I went to Tube n Axe Backpackers because it was the meeting point for an activity I was doing. When I entered, I immediately regretted not booking my stay there. Who knew hostel life could be this nice? It has a pool with these hammocks around it and a bon fire area and A VIBE .

Tube n Axe Hostel at Storms River/Tsitsikamma
Tube n Axe Hostel at Storms River/Tsitsikamma

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