1. PARK WITH THE PROS
Airport parking can be costly. However, many airports have long-term parking lots that are remote but much cheaper. These options usually have a shuttle service that will drop you off at Departures. Just factor in a little more time.
2. PLAN SOME GROUP FUN
Sign up for Groupon or other group-buying schemes in the city you plan to visit. That way you can take advantage of discounted restaurant and event offers.
3. FLY RED-EYE
Flights early in the morning and late at night are usually cheaper than those that depart at a more convenient time during the day. Remember, flights on Fridays and Saturdays, and during school holidays are more expensive.
4. GET INSIDER OFFERS
Many airlines, travel agents and tourism companies have a service that allows you to hear about special deals and sales first via e-mail or SMS. Choose a few of your favourites and sign up. Try www.kulula.com and www.sanparks.co.za.
5. PLAN FAR AHEAD … OR BE SPONTANEOUS
Booking a few months in advance usually saves money. Planes and buses have a quota of seats that are sold at the lowest price. Once these are taken, the next lot of seats will be more expensive. This goes for hotels too. And in the last few days before the departure date, you can bag a bargain if there are unsold seats.
6. LET SOMEONE ELSE DO THE WORK
A travel agent will probably be able to get you the best car, flight or hotel deal – even better than if you spent hours comparing prices on the Internet and booked them separately. Many tour operators also run offers that allow children to travel free.
7. CUT YOUR SPEED
Planning a road trip? According to the Automobile Association of South Africa, you can cut fuel costs by slowing down and driving more smoothly. Keep your revs down, tyres inflated at the correct pressure, use air-con sparingly, and close windows when driving on the highway at speed to reduce drag. Visit www.aa.co.za to locate all tollgates on your trip so you can budget accordingly or plan alternative routes.
8. BRING YOUR OWN
If you’re flying with a no-frills airline, you’ll pay inflated prices for in-flight snacks, so take your own. And if you sleep over in a self-catering facility or B&B, make an extra sandwich for lunch on the go.
9. BE CASH-SMART
Locally, there’s no transaction fee when you swipe your credit card, while the opposite is true for debit cards. When overseas, remember commission-free doesn’t mean profit-free. Shop around before exchanging currency. Also, rather use ATMs than traveller’s cheques, as you’ll get your cash cheaper and faster. But note that while ATMs give the best rates, they do come with transaction fees. Make fewer and larger withdrawals – then store your cash safely!
10. SWAP YOUR HOUSE
Check your passport expiry date at least three months before your trip. Emergency passports cost a lot more and not all countries let you in on one.