8 tips to cut costs of international travel this Youth Month

A group of friends enjoy watermelon at a summer European destination. Picture: Supplied

A group of friends enjoy watermelon at a summer European destination. Picture: Supplied

Published Jun 13, 2023


International travel can be costly.

Destinations in Europe, the US and Asia are far away from South Africa which means long flying times and connecting flights to get to your destination.

Cost-conscious travel doesn’t have to be less fun and there are ways to stick to a budget when planning a trip abroad.

If you’re looking to travel without getting financially over-stretched this Youth Month, here are a few tips on cost-conscious travel abroad, according to KLM Royal Dutch Airlines.

Choose your destination carefully

With the rand taking strain, destinations abroad are more expensive than here at home.

“There are many destinations where the exchange rate gets you good value, or somewhere that has a lower cost of living than here in South Africa. Asian destinations like Thailand and the Philippines, European destinations like Poland, Romania, Italy and Portugal and various American states are economical places to travel to,” said KLM Royal Dutch Airlines.

Book in advance

Planning a trip a few months in advance can help to keep costs down. It is often cheaper, and less stressful, to book transport, accommodation and activities well in advance.

“Statistically, flights booked approximately five or six months ahead of travel are the cheapest and hotel prices increase as rooms get booked up. There are also several travel apps you can use to compare prices and make sure you are getting the best deal,” said the airline.

Travel ‘Light’

When booking international flights, airlines like KLM Royal Dutch Airlines have cheaper alternatives to cut costs. The airline offers a ‘Light’ ticket option for passengers seeking the lowest possible fare. This option ditches the checked-in bag and passengers fly only with hand luggage.

Drinks and meals on board all KLM flights are still included in the ticket price for all passengers so the overall flying experience isn’t compromised. This is a great way to save money on airline fares.

Avoid tourist traps

Big cities and tourist hot spots are often a lot more expensive than staying off the beaten track. While these hot spots may be tempting, often prices are inflated as a result of the bustling tourist scene around big cities.

Avoid going to restaurants on a main strip, buying expensive souvenirs close to popular tourist attractions and book a hotel a little further out of the city centre.

Travel off season

“The summer months bring in a flurry of tourists to major cities around the world. As a result, the demand for accommodation, travel and entrance to attractions increases significantly. Travelling to destinations in quieter months will have a major impact on the overall budget of a trip,” said the airline.

Be prepared to share

When travelling, one of the biggest costs in addition to the flight is accommodation, however, opting for a hostel instead of a hotel, is one way that will save travellers money on their adventures.

“When visiting a popular city, there is often so much to do and see. Hostels are the perfect place to set up a base and sleep at a minimal cost. Hostels are also a great place to meet people from all around the world and enjoy some great conversations while sharing travel tips,” said the airline.

Take advantage of free experiences

According to the airline, another top tip for cost-conscious travel is to look for free things to do wherever you’re heading. It could be that certain museums are free on certain days or that local events happening in the area.

Many cities also offer “free walking tours” which are a great way of seeing the city you are visiting. While these tours are free, tour guides do make money off tips so it is customary to give them some cash at the end of the tour.

Don’t eat out every night

When travelling on a budget, eating out at restaurants every day can become costly.

“While you should enjoy some meals at restaurants, make use of ready-made meals at supermarkets or cook for yourself at your accommodation to keep the overall cost of your trip down.

“Even if you want to immerse yourself in the culture of your chosen destination, many supermarkets offer delicious, cheap meals that will ensure you are fed for cheap,” said KLM Royal Dutch Airlines.

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