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How to save a few bucks while on holiday

Ten tips for the festive period.
If breakfast is included in your accommodation deal, take advantage of it so you don't go looking for a snack before lunchtime. Image: Shutterstock

Are you already cheering the end-of-the-year holiday period on, or perhaps looking forward to a well-deserved getaway early in 2021?

The past year brought us a few unexpected events to deal with, and if you have planned to go away for a bit – good for you. Most importantly, how can you make sure that while you’re on holiday, you also get a chance to save a few bucks? The key is to put your practical hat on and work with what you have available.

There is no need to overextend yourself when on holiday. You can have fun within your budget while taking advantage of the various saving opportunities that are available as well. Bit by bit, each saving adds to your money bucket in the end.

Here are 10 tips to ensure you save your wallet during your upcoming holiday:

  1. Outline your budget or total budget amount and stick to it. Don’t overspend, and rather keep your holiday money in a specific account where you can withdraw it when needed. Remember: cash can also be your friend if you’d rather go that route. But don’t be naïve – make sure that you withdraw it at a secure place/ATM and keep it safe from those eyes or hands lurking around.
  2. Take travel-size (mini) toiletries and products with you. Don’t go and buy your toiletries when you reach your destination. It can be expensive, especially in a pricey tourist area.
  3. Be a smart packer and pack light, especially if you are flying. If you have less luggage you may be able to avoid checking in a big bag, and if your destination accommodation has a free laundry area you can wash your clothes at no or low cost.
  4. Take a few minutes and check out what free or affordable activities you can do or destinations you can visit. Set up an itinerary (if you haven’t had the time to do so yet) – one that can work according to the outlined budget.
  5. Play the age card – if you are 60 or over, use that pensioner card of yours to ask for discounts at stores and outing entrances. When your baby/under-12 child is coming along, or if you are still a student, the age game can do wonders when it comes to saving a few rands.
  6. Travelling costs can become quite expensive – walk where you can and when you have to hire transport do your research well to make sure that whatever you choose is the most affordable option.
  7. Data is expensive in South Africa – so keep an eye out for free WiFi spots.
  8. Look out for farmer’s markets and local stores to buy fresh, in-season fruit and vegetables, for example. Rather stay away from touristy areas and shops.
  9. Make use of available saving apps or reward programmes when filling up your car tank or during restaurant outings.
  10. Speaking of food/snacks – here are some ideas:
    • Self-catering is always a good idea, but make sure you take your supplies from home.
    • For all those caffeine lovers – make sure you pack your on-the-go French press.
    • Pack snacks for those holiday nibbles and, of course, take them with on those outings where allowed.
    • For those ‘true spoil days’ – restaurants do tend to have lunch specials. Keep an eye out for possible money-saving deals.
    • If you are staying at a place where breakfast is included – take advantage of it so you don’t go hungry again before lunchtime.

A few extra things to keep in mind for your future holidays:

  • Be careful of far away or pricey destinations. Make sure you consider accommodation, fuel and activity costs.
  • When it comes to affordable accommodation, ask yourself if you really need a big, beautiful room that you are not going to spend lots of time in. Do your research in advance and compare/consider various affordable alternatives between hotels, hostels, camping facilities, B&Bs or lodges, for example.
  • Travel outside peak season. Out of season holiday visits can help you stick to your budget due to lower rates, and you’ll avoid overcrowding at popular holiday locations.
  • Save each month, and let your loved ones join in the mission to plan and save for the next holiday. You can certainly score by doing bookings in advance or online.

Remember to keep it frugal as best you can and, to keep these handy tips in mind for future holiday planning.

Carla Oberholzer is a debt advisor at DebtSafe.


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Switch your geyser off before going away.

That could save you R500 or more.

Great tip Speculator and water mains to the house this prevents serious damager in case of a “pipe burst or other” whilst away and then finding a “house size aquarium” on return, this could evaporate a most fantastic holiday memory in seconds!

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