If you have been following the news this should come as no surprise: South Africa is in a recession. The good news is that exploring new places doesn't have to cost a fortune, and you certainly don't need to win the lotto to travel the country. At least not if you know how to travel on a budget.
We've come up with some tried and tested tips to help you plan your holiday on a budget.
1. Come Up With A Plan
Travelling spontaneously is cool if you are not bound by time or a tight budget. But when you are travelling on a budget, the first thing to do is come up with a plan. You don't need a full diary or hour-by-hour itinerary, but you should at least have an idea of how long you'll be spending in each province, and know the route that your epic journey will take.
Leaving less to chance means less unexpected costs. Last-minute flights and accommodation are often far more costly.
2. Avoid Peak Seasons
Definitely avoid trips during the school holidays. This is when the travel industry hikes up prices to take advantage of families who can only travel during these weeks. Research the best months to visit your intended destination, and then travel just before or after these dates.
This is referred to as the 'shoulder season', where you'll still have a great trip but maybe the sun won't shine quite as brightly (but on the plus side, it won't be quite as hot). Another plus, hotels and airlines lower their prices to attract customers during this time.
3. Ditch The Hotel
Exchange expensive hotel suites for dorm rooms in backpackers. Sharing a room help divides the costs, and bunk rooms offer the chance to meet new people who might be keen to explore the place with you.
Other great alternatives are Airbnb and Couchsurfing, it'll halve the price and allow you an authentic snapshot of real life in the city.
You could even stay with family or friends. Reach out on social media to people you know, or plan a trip to somewhere that a long-lost cousin or school friend now lives – this could take you to visit places you'd never have thought of before.
4. Plan Your Flights In Advance
Especially return flights. Running out of money in another city without a guaranteed ticket home is never ideal.
Airlines 'share' their flight seats up to 12 months in advance and the closer you get to your departure date, the more the prices increase, especially in the last month.
5. Don't Chow Away Your Cash
Budget lunches can be bought in a Spar, Pick n Pay or even a local fresh food market, rather than in a pricey cafe or restaurant. Google around and check reviews before choosing a place to eat. If you just pick the first restaurant you see you won't know if you're overspending.
Drinking alcohol with every dinner soon adds up. Both your wallet and your waistline will thank you if you opt for H2O instead sometimes.
Alternatively, backpackers and Airbnb often let you have access to a kitchen if you want to go the budget route by catering for yourself.