For all South Africans struggling to make ends meet, it is good to know that it is possible to enjoy a 5-star family holiday without breaking out the credit card. Try these 9 budget-beating tips for size and start planning the holiday of a lifetime.
1. Travelling off season
Peak season in South Africa runs during the school holidays. To generate business in the off-peak season many holiday destinations run specials. You may find that some of your favourite holiday destinations are available at half the price, meaning you save thousands while still enjoying best-in-class destinations. Tourist attractions in the area may also have off-peak specials, so you will save your pennies and enjoy your holiday without the hassle of summer crowds.
2. Self-catering savings
Here is where you can save plenty of money. Self-catering cottages or apartments are much cheaper than hotel rooms. They come equipped with a kitchen and braai so you can save hundreds by bringing groceries and cooking for your family instead of paying expensive hotel prices or eating out. Get the whole family involved in preparing meals and cleaning up! An added bonus is that self-catering facilities also tend to be more spacious so you and your family will enjoy your holiday in a more relaxed and comfortable environment. Parents with small kids can also enjoy meals together as and when they want them, without having to worry about hotel mealtimes.
Hot tip: Alternatively you can look into home swapping. houseswap.co.za advertises safe house swapping across South Africa. The idea here is that you trade homes with a family in another area for a week or two rather than paying hotel costs. Home swapping is often a great way to explore new cities, meet new people and save a lot of money.
3. Researching great deals
Planning a budget holiday requires a lot of research and planning so you need to become a local travel expert. Spend time reviewing discount sites like Groupon and follow your favourite hotels, airlines and travel companies on Facebook and Twitter for special offers and discount deals. Plan your holiday, compare prices and book well in advance to ensure you get the best value for money.
4. Entertainment on a budget
Although budget holidays require a lot of research and preparation, you will find ways of entertaining the family cheaply. For example, here are ideas for things to do in Cape Town and Johannesburg that don’t cost a fortune. Take the time you need to research your destination and find ways of keeping the family busy – and happy. Botanical gardens, museums, mountain biking, open air markets, hiking… the list is endless in a country like South Africa! And don’t forget about family activities like puzzles, board games and playing cards.
5. Eating out
Holiday snacks for hungry kids – and adults - can be very expensive. Stock up on goodies at the local grocery store so that you are not tempted to buy overpriced food and drinks. You can also freeze water bottles over night to take with you on long days out.
And, of course, restaurant meals are expensive! The first rule of any budget holiday is to eat out as infrequently as possible. Save money by eating before you go out or planning picnics in local parks.
6. Skip the souvenirs
Buying souvenir keychains and T-shirts may seem like a great idea while you are on holiday, but as we all know they end up sitting in a drawer or at the back of your cupboard for years before you throw them out. Photos on your phone are a no cost way to remember your holiday so make sure to snap plenty of great pics.
7. The local tourist
You don’t have to leave home to take a vacation. The beautiful thing about living in South Africa is that there is so much to do and see in every city. One of the easiest ways to save a lot of money is to stay in your own home and plan events around your city. Take the time off work and relax at home with family while enjoying the local attractions. Is there something in your home town you have always wanted to do but never had the time? Well do it now, explore the natural forests, or visit the local parks and museums. Opportunities like this will save you thousands – and you will fall in love with your city all over again.
House sitters are expensive! Save money and ask a relative or family friend to look after your home and pets while you are away. And if you cannot find someone to care for your animals, pet-friendly accommodation is cheaper than kennels!
9. Toll roads
Take the time to research whether taking alternative routes instead of toll roads is in fact cheaper. Remember you need to take the extra petrol, and wear and tear on your car into account as alternative routes are longer than toll roads. The AA has a Rates Calculator that you can use to calculate a per kilometre rate for your specific car, as well as detailed information on South African tollroads and fees.
Family vacations are something we all look forward to. You get a well-deserved chance to unwind and reconnect with your loved ones – and it doesn’t have to cost a fortune. These simple tips can help you save plenty of money without giving up on the holiday perks you enjoy most. So spend wisely and plan ahead.