Travel overseas for less

Rioma Cominelli, a Director at First Loyalty Plus
Rioma Cominelli, a Director at First Loyalty Plus

Longing to explore the world again? Dying to visit your friends and/or family overseas? The good news is that whilst the dreaded coronavirus has had most of us frozen in one place for over a year, countries are finally beginning to reopen their borders to travellers. The bad news is that so many individuals have been financially affected by the lockdown that international travel is feeling more and more like an impossible dream.

Rioma Cominelli, a Director at First Loyalty Plus, believes that whilst budgets are tighter than ever, 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!”

She offers these seven tips to travel overseas for less:

1. 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 over 500 000 hotels and resorts across the world and as a result are able to save their Members up to 50% on accommodation.

2. Avoid travelling during peak season: Travelling during the off-peak season means fewer crowds and higher chances of locals being more helpful. What’s more, many hotels and airlines offer cheaper rates during the off-peak travel season.

3. 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. You can also save up to 50% on international flights by signing up with a loyalty programme like First Loyalty Plus.

4. 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 WiFi for the duration of your trip.

5. Don’t eat in airport restaurants and cafes: Eating at an international airport can swallow your entire day’s food budget in one sitting. 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 therefore demand is high, resources are limited, and food is expensive!

6. 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.

7. Use cash instead of plastic 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.

“Expanding your horizons to new experiences, new countries and different cultures is possible! Pick a date, plan well, save generously and you will make your international travel dream a reality,” concludes Rioma.