Save on Your Next Holiday

Save on Your Next Holiday

Having a few budget problems with your holiday plans…you’re not the only one, perhaps struggling to cope with normal monthly expenses, increases on your bond and fuel prices that make you regret ever buying a vehicle with such a big tank…not only are you losing with respect to running costs but you cringe as you see the same vehicles advertises in the for sale columns and realise how much capital value you have lost since you bought it.

Do not despair, renting someone else’s holiday home for your own family holiday offers a bargain of a lifetime…how does in week on the Royal Port Alfred marina in September for a luxury home that sleeps eight persons for only R6000 per week sound to you. A holiday with all the home comforts.

One of the most common problems is finding a holiday home that meets your needs, try www.staysa.co.za, a South African company who have specialised in bringing home owners and holidaymakers together.

Here are a few tips on how to go about it and some travel tips in general. Most common problems surround sourcing a home; reservations; dates ……these can be problematic despite the ease and simplicity of the internet. It is imperative when planning any holiday to any destination that all bookings are made well in advance, followed up either by e-mail or telephone a few days before your departure and still in time to rectify problems if discovered. After this has been done, prevent further problems by ensuring you have proof in the form of copies of any relevant document or reference number, this could be a receipt confirmation of a deposit paid or any item depending on your personal arrangements. This is one of those suggestions where prevention is definitely far better than cure.

Our second tip is all encompassing and covers the packing of essential items. Obviously these items might vary according to your personal plans but would perhaps include items such as passports and ID documents; applicable drivers licences; money – credit cards, wallets and other financial needs; mobile phones and camera’s, (get with it, preferably digital) are essential items nowadays, together with supporting items such as chargers and memory cards. On my personal list are always sunglasses, activity equipment, a few books, a pack of cards, a multi-purpose pocket knife and other smaller items or games which always come in handy.

How are we doing so far, the bottom line is that with tip numbers one and two you can go almost anywhere in the world and if you have forgotten anything else you can purchase them en route.

Tip number three is so absolutely boring you might well stop reading at this point but it remains one of the most common causes of holidays being cancelled. Before you leave home ensure that all domestic matters are resolved and tucked in to bed. These will again vary but will certainly surround adequate locking up and security issues; paying all accounts, in particular municipal services; cancelling any deliveries; ensuring access is available to a trusted friend or relative in the event of a fire or emergency; ensuring pets are adequately cared for and that someone responsible is able to contact you in the case of emergency during your holiday. Yes…boring….but oh so often the cause of having to either come back early or returning to face a smelly deep freeze or worse.

The basics are covered and now we can move onto the fun part, tip number four surrounds choosing the right holiday for your needs and enjoyment. To haul three children under ten years old to a game reserve for ten days will stretch your patience and theirs, you might enjoy spending half an hour looking at a bird or waiting for an Elephant to come to a waterhole while sipping a Chardonnay, they certainly wouldn’t. If you have had a really stressful year and are going on holiday for a time out, a few days in London followed by a few in Rome and a low cost flight via Moscow to save a few cents would mean lots of flights; too many airports and complicated transit arrangements. Our panel suggests taking a few extra minutes to analyse the real needs of all travelling partners before selecting your holiday destination.

You have analysed your own needs and decided on let’s say a scuba diving holiday as an example. Tip number five stays with destination choice and is all about research. That’s easy I hear you saying, once you’ve decided what type of holiday you want. However, you could also end up on a scuba diving holiday in monsoon season, perhaps to a great destination at most times of the year but in the month you have chosen, it’s infested with mosquito’s and a temperature of 45 degrees, is that what you wanted.

Perhaps you might be looking for a quiet and romantic getaway and choose a week in a Spanish seaside village only to find out it clashes with a local political election and the local school holidays. Time researching local conditions is well spent, beware particularly of special offers or discounts, these are usually offered for a reason and often due to seasonality or other sub-optimal characteristics of the destination at the time the offer applies. This same principle applies to discounted flights and packages, it’s important to be fully aware of which items and costs are included and not included in the price.

How far have we gone so far, in summary we have the logistics and essential equipment under control, chosen a stunning destination to ensure our needs are covered and we have selected the dates to suit the destination characteristics.

Tip number six is about the modern day wonder of the travellers’ world. You guessed it, the internet. This modern tool enables you to ensure you are fully au fait with all and any information you might need. From disco’s to dive centres, museums to mausoleums, cathedrals to camping grounds, the information is easily available to you from the comfort of your home; office or failing which, an internet caf?. Referring back to our Spanish village, if you want to know the history, what to see and do while you’re there, the internet provides this service. Even once you’re there, if you want to send pics and news to someone at home, the internet has really made this simple. I read recently that in excess of 70% of all travel arrangements are now made on-line, wow, that is an awesome number and it is no doubt climbing, not without reason.

A list of top ten tips would definitely be incomplete without a reference to the importance of adequate packing. Notice we say adequate as it does vary according to destination and travel method. A car trip to Port Alfred with a trailer and roof rack is a far different scenario than a flight to London. Tip number seven is to pack early; to pack correctly and most of all to pack according to a well prepared list. One often makes the mistake of packing too much, leaving little room for error and no space to include a few souvenirs or that tee-shirt that looked so good in the market. On a personal note our family has a rule, what you pack you carry, this has a fantastic effect of ensuring no one packs without a plan.  

The boring battle of the budget. We all have dream destinations we hope to get to one day; this is unfortunately not a reality for most of us. Tip number eight is to ensure you remain within your personal limits of expenditure. Interest rates are high and could get higher; credit offered by banks can be easily obtained by utilising the credit card options so often available. You don’t want to spend the year after your holiday stressed out about how you’re going to pay it back during the rest of the year. Plan adequately before and during your holiday. Whilst it’s certainly fun to spoil yourselves during a holiday, we suggest you allocate a daily allowance to each person and to the whole group; this will certainly help control costs, particularly in an international destination when one is not fully conversant, it can come back and bite quite hard.

The members of our panel are all seasoned travellers, local and overseas. In conversation we certainly learned that all had on occasion bumped their heads or made often silly mistakes. Our unanimous tip number nine is to enjoy South Africa. As residents of this beautiful country we are all absolutely blessed to live within a reasonable distance from either a beach; lake; mountain; game reserve or whatever it might be that appeals to your family. Too often we feel the need to travel far and wide when it’s all on our doorstep. We might travel to an exotic dive destination but haven’t yet experienced Aliwal Shoal; sit on a Mauritian Beach when our coast offers some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, perhaps even camping in France when you’ve never been to the Drakensberg or Clarens.

It might be a clich? but we really do have it all in one country. We certainly hope that our leaders will take every action to ensure that it stays that way. We in turn need to appreciate it and invest in local tourism and the job creation it offers. Our panel felt that we need to market ourselves as a destination a little better than we do, encouraging local travellers that Cairo is perhaps not always better than Cape Town. Local is lekker, it has its place alongside braaivleis, biltong, sunny skies and all the rest.

This might be our last tip of the ten we were confined to but it is the simplest and most important – have fun! You’ve worked hard, you deserve your holiday, please don’t forget to enjoy it. In most cases when on holiday, one is surrounded by those your love the most, those dearest and closest.

What an absolute blessing to be able to spend quality time in a holiday destination with those you love.

Send in your travel tips to us and allow us to share them with others. We’re also looking for the top 50 items to pack, send your ideas along.

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