Let’s start with international flights. I’ve learnt from friends that work in airlines that the earlier you book, the more expensive the flight ticket will be. People are under the assumption that if you book your flight early it will be cheaper. However, that is not the case - it’s the complete opposite. Airlines often have to cover their costs for flying, such as fuel, which means that they usually fill about 60% of the seats at a normal rate and thereafter drop the price.
So the closer to the date you book, the cheaper it will be. Before you book, visit sites such as Travelstart and Hopper for the cheapest tickets they display. From there, go to the airline site itself and it will be even cheaper there.
Before doing your searches, make sure you clear your cache or browsing history on your computer as airlines pick up how many times you have searched certain sites.
If they pick up how desperate you are to book the flights, instead of you getting the cheaper price, they will push the price up so that you panic and think it’s going to be expensive the longer you wait. Don’t fall for it and keep looking for the best deal.
In the US they have several domestic airlines that fly within the country. However, if you are outside of the US, you are unable to access these sites as they try and accommodate the locals first and not expose foreigners to the cheaper deals.
To get around this, download the applications on your mobile phone and this way you’ll be able to access domestic flights in the US.
Apps such as Spirit Airlines, South West, United Airlines and Hopper can easily be downloaded from iStore or Google Play. They are reasonably cheaper and are my favourite apps - they give you updates as soon as the price for the flights you are looking for drops.
ACCOMMODATION is another major factor when it comes to affordable travelling. If you don’t have a friends where you’re headed that can accommodate you, there are a few other options you can choose from.
When it comes to international online hospitality providers such as Airbnb and Booking.com, do remember that in the US you will be charged tax separately from the price displayed in the advert, so check what the final cost is and if tax is included.
I made the mistake of trusting a booking on Booking.com and ended up paying double the amount at Hotel Fifthy in New York, as they were not honest and upfront about the total cost online.
Make sure you keep proof of all costs that may occur. For example, before booking they told me the wi-fi was free but when I got there they charged me $25 a day for wi-fi.
Priceline is also a good site to use as it checks for left-over rooms in hotels that haven’t been booked and gives you the room at a fraction of the price, as they would rather fill the room than lose out on money for the night.
If you are on a budget, there are cheaper options you can try such as Couch Surfing - it gives you free accommodation if you are okay with sleeping on someone’s couch. This is cool as you get to meet a whole community of other travellers in the same area.
* FOOD: If you have the option of a free breakfast at the hotel, fill yourself up and only worry about dinner. You will probably be exploring all day so keep snacks in your bag. Street food is also a cheaper option.
Before you indulge check www.yelp.com for recommendations before committing to an option because you don't want food poisoning to spoil your holiday.
If you are planning to do some heavy drinking, make sure you get your alcohol at duty-free in South Africa as this will be your cheapest option.
Don't take the risk of putting the alcohol in your luggage as it adds weight to your suitcase. Rather carry it as hand luggage.
Bring snacks in your carry-on from South Africa. If you can take the extra snacks you get on the plane, they'll come in handy too.
* To see more of Shamiel’s travels visit Instagram @shamielsham