Rioma Cominelli of First Loyalty Plus believes it is possible to travel overseas without breaking the bank.Picture: Pexels
Rioma Cominelli of First Loyalty Plus believes it is possible to travel overseas without breaking the bank.Picture: Pexels

How to travel to an international destination for less

By Travel Reporter Time of article published May 5, 2021

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Travelling to an international destination is expensive, especially when you now have to factor in Covid-19 tests and quarantine costs.

Rioma Cominelli, a director at First Loyalty Plus, believes it is possible to travel overseas without breaking the bank.

“Travelling is such a wonderful opportunity to make magical, lasting memories, and whilst travelling on a budget takes careful planning, patience and a little bit of sacrifice, it is possible," said Cominelli.

She shares seven tips on how you can travel to an international destination for less:

Sign up for a loyalty programme

Many hotel groups have loyalty programmes that give you access to partner properties worldwide. For example, First Loyalty Plus, a division of First Group Hotels and Resorts, has partnered with more than 500 000 hotels and resorts across the world.

Avoid travelling during peak season

Travelling during the off-peak season means fewer crowds and higher chances of locals being more helpful. Many hotels and airlines offer cheaper rates during the off-peak travel season.

Fly in the week

For international flights, leaving South Africa on Sundays to Thursdays and returning Tuesday to Thursday is generally cheaper. "Avoid travelling on Fridays, Sunday evenings, on the days before public holidays, and before the start or at the end of the school holidays as more people are travelling during this time. Higher demand means higher flight ticket prices," she said.

Turn off 3G and data roaming

Unless you have an international data plan, switch off your cellular and data roaming. Otherwise, you will come back home to a hefty bill. "The roaming rates charged while you’re overseas are far higher than local rates.

“You can either buy a local SIM card upon arrival or rely on the wi-fi for the duration of your trip," she advised.

Don’t eat in airport restaurants and cafés

Eating at an international airport can swallow your entire day’s food budget in one sitting.

"Try to eat before you arrive and do your best to wait until you can have your complimentary inflight meal.

“High security at the airports means that it’s not always easy to bring food in. This means demand is high, resources are limited, and food is expensive," said Cominelli

Travel with local public transport

Public transport can be cheaper and safer than hiring a car while abroad. "The locals know the area better than you do, so you’re guaranteed to get to where you need to go without any hassles. Options like trains are also generally safe, depending on the country you’re in."

Use cash to avoid foreign exchange fees

South African banks charge foreign exchange fees for overseas travel. They do have agreements with partner banks to lower rates for consumers, but you’ll still be paying more than if you use cash (Just remember to keep your cash locked away and only take what you need!)

"If you’d still like to use your card while you’re away, inform your bank so that they can tell you how to use it without incurring high fees," added Cominelli.

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