Anje Rautenbach is a Bay travel writer and a blogger who runs the travel blog, Going Somewhere Slowly. As a solo female traveller she discovers the nooks and crannies of the world in slow motion, fuelled by caffeine and a passion for storytelling
Life is expensive – our wallets moan when we fill up the car, go out for coffee or simply fill our grocery cupboards and if you add travel to that the wallet usually closes its flaps with a loud bang and a harsh message “sorry not this time”.
But travel doesn’t need to take a back seat on your wish list because there are a few tips and tricks to save money on your next trip.
September is Tourism Month and the theme this year is to make tourism more accessible for visitors near and far as well as promote and create more affordable travel experiences for everyone.
The opportunities to experience the best of South Africa – on and off the beaten travel path – are endless and while the majority of us dream of destinations abroad with turquoise waters and white sandy beaches, domestic travel still proves to be the least expensive. Keep your wallet happy and let it say, “Yes, this time!”.
It will take a lifetime or more to visit all the cities, small towns, sights, nature reserves, museums, beaches, mountains and heritage sites South Africa has to offer; explore and rediscover why South Africa was voted as one the most beautiful destinations on earth.
If nature is where you want to be for a vacation or a short getaway, get yourself a Wild Card and enjoy free entry to South African National Parks EVERY DAY (it eliminates your conservation fee which is a great financial helper if you plan to stay over in these parks). But wait, there is more; it is not only for SANParks, you will also get a discount if you want to go up to Table Mountain, you can enter Cape Nature Reserves, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife, Msinsi Resorts and Game Reserves and the Big Game Parks of Swaziland FREE.
Nelson Mandela Bay Tourism launched their NMB Pass last year to provide free access (and discount) to a variety of attractions and activities in and around the Bay and you can choose between a 5-in-1 Pass as well as an Unlimited Itinerary Pass.
Recently, Cape Town followed with the Cape Town Pass which gives you fast-track access to the city’s best attractions as well as discounts for restaurants and activities.
Hop-on, Hop-off City Sightseeing Bus
Experience Cape Town, Johannesburg or Soweto from a City Sightseeing Bus. These double-decker buses allow you to hop on or off at any of the listed sightseeing stops with the added benefit of listening to insightful information about the attraction you are about to visit. The sightseeing bus is an inexpensive way to experience a city and it eliminates the stress of driving around from A to B, getting lost and finding safe and secure parking.
Get a Tour Guide in Your Ear
Voicemap brings the guide straight to your ear with a nifty app featuring inexpensive tours all over the world. These audio tours allow you to experience a city, town or attraction from a local’s perspective and voice and you can enjoy GPS audio walks, cycles, drives and even boat rides, any time and any day.
If a free tour sounds too good to be true, allow the Cape Town and Johannesburg Free Walking Tours to restore your faith in humanity and society and join one of their tours. There are three types of tours in Cape Town and two tours in Johannesburg and these walking tours are given by professional tour guides and run on a tip-only basis.
Save on accommodation costs and stay with a friend (or an almost to be friend) via Couchsurfing. Couchsurfing is an international online platform which encourages you to experience a free homestay with a local where the duration, nature and terms of your stay are worked out before arrival.
You can sign up for Couchsurfing, meet someone for just a coffee or stay over and leave feedback on that person’s profile. The feedback is an important deciding factor each Couchsurfer will read before they make their decision to “request a couch” or not. It’s free; it is an experience and an incredible way to meet travellers.
If you have an extra couch, room or even a space on a floor, don’t hesitate to sign up for Couchsurfing.
The best way to experience a city or town is to walk or cycle through it. If you are visiting small towns, park your car, put your takkies on go for multiple long strolls. If you are visiting bigger cities like, Cape Town, make use of the MyCiti bus which will bring you to wherever you want to be in and around Cape Town. If you are not travelling alone, always do a quick calculation to see if taking an Uber and splitting the fare won’t be cheaper than using the bus.
Sign up for the newsletters of booking and travel websites or check in with Groupon and be the first to know of any travel deals, flights specials or even meal vouchers which can help you to cut back on costs. Yes, most of the time you will probably not bother to look at the deal, but when you are planning a trip and you get that e-mail at the right time and that deal at the right price, the rest is history.
Just remember, travel is indeed the only thing you buy that makes you richer and experiences last forever.
See more from Anje at goingsomewhereslowly.com