Stretching your Rand when Touring Europe

You can make your Rand go further when travelling overseas, despite the current economic climate and exchange rate. By travelling smart, you can turn that dream overseas trip into a safe, smooth and affordable reality. Following these simple tips could make your Rand go that much further.

Use ATMs rather than travellers cheques

You will get your cash cheaper and faster using an ATM. Just keep in mind that while ATMs give the best possible rates, they do come with transaction fees. Minimise fees by making fewer and larger withdrawals. Store the cash safely in your money belt. The Visa Cash Passport is a great way to store Forex safely: you can pre-budget your travel spend and, if necessary, it can be topped up by your family back home or via internet banking.

Shop cheap and interesting

Do most of your shopping and gift buying in the cheaper countries where gifts are more interesting or visit local markets to ensure that your shopping Rand stretches the farthest.

Adapt to European tastes

One of the great facets of travelling is adapting to and sampling local foods and specialties. Not only do you broaden your culinary horizon, but you are also certain to get the best quality, service and value.

Consider driving as a group

Four people sharing a rental car travel more affordably than four individuals buying four rail passes. Even at approx R11 per litre, cars get great mileage when the distance between sightseeing destinations is short. A single two-hour train ticket can cost you the price of a full tank of fuel. Remember to obtain your International Driving Permit (IDP) from the AA before leaving South Africa and allow some budget for Europe’s many toll roads.

Pay with local cash

While credit cards get you a good exchange rate, many places offering Europe's best deals, from craft shops to bed and breakfasts, will only accept cash.

Explore no-frills flights

Use main line carriers into Europe or the UK, and then use Europe's highly competitive no-frills airlines such as Ryanair, Easy Jet and a host of many others to get you from one city to another, faster and cheaper than by train. You can generally book the flights yourself either by phone or online. Be aware, though, that low cost airlines often use smaller airports located further away from the city centre, which will cost you a little more in extra time and money.

Go business

Plan your stopovers carefully by utilising business hotels during weekends throughout the year and during the European summer as they offer vastly reduced rates over business off-peak periods. For example you can get a fancy business hotel room for the price of a cheap one-star hotel, which equates to getting a 300 Euro double room for 100 Euro.

Don't over-tip

South Africans are used to tipping (we even pay car guards). However, most times a service tip is already included in the bill or not expected. Ask locals who are customers rather than the employees of a restaurant for advice.

Buy Museum or City Passes

Passes save time and money. The Paris Museum pass, for example, allows you three separate visits as well as saving you time by not having to queue. A pass also covers you to visit sights that might not be worth a separate expense. The London pass allows you to visit 55 attractions at one affordable price!

Use the “home-base” strategy

This is a clever and, in most cases, an economically better way to make your trip itinerary smoother, simpler, and more efficient. By setting yourself up in a central location you can use that place as a base for day trips to nearby attractions. The hotelier will often give you a better rate for a longer stay, you don’t need to lug your luggage around and you get to talk to locals and find the best places to shop and eat, as well as the most cost-effective modes of transport.

Remember AA Members are part of the global Show Your Card & Save programme that allows for discounts at various outlets worldwide! 

The key to making your trip more effective and to stretching your Rand is to research and plan what you want to do. Visit an AA Accredited Sales Agent store and speak to a travel consultant. It is also wise to invest in or borrow a travel guide on the destinations that you want to visit.