26 June 2012

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Thrifty travel tips

A van parked, looking over this beach ion South Africa
Photo John Charalambous  

Travelling has become a fixture in modern life as we travel to work, to learn, to shop, for fun, to church, to visit family... therefore it can definitely take its toll on your budget every month. Most working South Africans manage to afford petrol, the train or a taxi to get around. There’s usually not much you can do to cut back on travelling, but you can make the trip more affordable and save those pennies you’ve been meaning to use towards repaying your debt or financing your child’s future.

If you travel by car, the most drastic way to save on petrol costs would be to join or create a lift club to work. If you find two other people who live and work (or study) close enough to your work and home, you can save two thirds of your petrol expenses. If you can find the people, but they don’t have cars, you can charge them for their half (or third) of the petrol and include the AA’s vehicle operating costs

Traffic on the N1 can get really bad. People leave early to avoid it or take the Gautrain
Photo ThisParticularGreg   
Also, make sure your car’s tyres, petrol filter, air filter and all those things that can affect petrol usage are checked regularly and replaced when needed. Try to avoid driving in traffic as far as possible by taking alternative routes or leaving at off-peak times. How you drive also has an impact on how much fuel your car is using, so go through these tips to increase fuel mileage even more.

Of course, travelling isn’t just a to-and-from-work affair. We need to see our families or go on holiday to unwind as well. Holiday travelling is more stressful as there’s so much more to plan and it can get really expensive when you look at the overall costs of your holiday, but there are ways to curb those costs. If you’re visiting your family, accommodation is probably free. But you can save a bundle if you don’t fall into the holiday spending trap we wrote about a few posts back.

Flights can be cheaper than driving when travelling alone
Photo phunkstarr
Your mode of transport should also be planned, so do research and work out what transport will be the cheapest for the amount of people travelling that distance. Going by car can be the most affordable option for a family, but for one person, a plane ticket booked in advance is probably the cheapest way to get across the country. Being flexible with your times can mean bigger savings, so search online for a flight within a few days of your planned departure and arrival time as well. Also look into long distance train and bus fares.

Also, don’t do things you wouldn’t spend on normally, such as eating in restaurants every second day. Rather focus on sight-seeing and visiting places that locals would relax or have fun at. If you’re not sure what these are, ask! Chances are good that this will be much cheaper than tourist destinations. Pack your own food and plan your trip to fall in the off-season if you are visiting parks or museums that charge admission fees.

Most of all, remember to have fun and make the most of your trip. Holidays don’t have to be perfect, so if something goes wrong, see it as just another adventure! Unexpected things make for the best photos and the most lasting memories.

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