Booking Travel

Tips on how to save for travel

This post is brought to you by the Instagram DMs I get asking “how do you get paid to travel?” The answer is that salaried or not, the way I have always managed to get on a plane, go on holiday and see the world, stay in great hotels or apartments (if I book via AirBnB), eat and drink and get wasted in clubs and bars like I do in South Africa whilst buying myself nice things along the way, has been because I save and budget.

But before I get dragged  for making it seem as if I have never had a complimentary trip or been paid to travel… I can confirm that I have experienced 5 trips in my travel life thanks to brands. My first brand trip abroad was with Trace TV to Reunion Island. I experienced New York in winter thanks to the Ponds Global team in December 2015. Virgin Atlantic flew me to London for the Brit Awards in 2016 and H&M gave me an experience I’ll never forget in Sedona, Arizona in 2019 which was followed by an awesome winter trip to London thanks to British Airways in 2019.

Now that we have gotten that out the way… Here is a little blog post on how to save for travel and achieve your travel goals.

Plan in advance

Planning in my view, can be tethered to goal setting and goal setting can be a really good motivator to not only act on something but commit to it. Which is why I think if you want to save for a trip, you should start planning said trip in advance.

Besides being a good motivator, planning your trip will start to give you visibility with regards to how much things cost. As you look into flights, accommodation etc to your desired destination and jot down approximate costs, you will start to get an idea of what it will take financially for you to achieve your travel goals.

Budget

First off, I want to start off by clarifying that budgeting is not the same as saving. Saving is an activity you do as part of budgeting. Budgeting is having a plan or a view on how and what you are going to spend your money on, which is why it is a crucial initial step.

When it comes to budgeting for travel one needs to consider all possible upcoming spend in relation to your trip ahead of time. Kgali Molefe, of Sharing My 2 Cents and I put together this budget spreadsheet, which can assist you in making sure that you have everything for your trip considered and planned for. It includes line items all the way from flights, visa fees (if applicable), accommodation, food and beverage, activities and entertainment as well as day to day transits in the country or city you are visiting, right through to “on the trip spend” such as food and drinks, activities and entertainment, etc.

Don’t forget your “Allowance” or “On the trip spend”

I am highlighting “Allowance or “On the trip spend” (as I like to call it), because most people tend to budget and save for all their pre-trip costs like flights, accommodation etc ahead of time, because they are “big costs” that one often needs to have in place in order to either apply for a visa, or feel secure about where they are going to sleep when they are abroad. “Allowance or “on the trip spend,” tends to take a backseat in the savings activities ahead of a trip, with most people opting to use their salary, credit card or income for that time period to cover entertainment, food, drink, shopping costs etc. Don’t do this.  Nothing sucks more than coming back from an amazing trip with amazing memories only to have to deal with amazing credit card debt.

Open a Forex Bank Account

Once you have plotted out in your budget how much you will assign to your “allowance” or “on the trip spend”, I recommend that you open a Forex Bank Account and save in foreign currency. Putting money away whether it is in a Forex Bank Account or a savings account, will keep you disciplined. And, if you opt for the Forex Bank Account route, the perks are:

– If you put away money throughout the months or year leading up to your trip paying attention to the Rand’s position, you can make sure that you buy foreign currency when the rand is at its strongest

– When you eventually go on your trip, you won’t have to stress with regards to converting to Rand’s, as you will be paying in Dollars, or Euros or Pounds (depending on the currency you are saving in)

– You won’t be affected by negative currency fluctuations, such as the rand weakening mid trip, thus affecting what you have available to spend from a Rand’s perspective

Sign up for frequent flyer, rewards or loyalty programmes

Whether you’re a first time traveller, or frequent traveller, sign up for rewards, frequent flier or loyalty programmes, because from frequent flier programmes like Emirates Skywards, to hotel rewards programmes like Marriott Bonvoy and booking platforms like Booking.com’s Genius Loyalty Programme, you will almost always get something by signing up, even if it is your first trip.

Over and above the possible discounts one might receive, some of the perks could be, but are not limited to:

  • Access to car rental and discounted rates on Booking.com for tourist attractions or activities if you book via the platform
  • Complimentary Emirates lounge access, on a specific tier
  • Complimentary seat selection, priority check in and boarding on Emirates Skywards on a specific tier
  • Being bumped up a class, like I was when I flew Emirates recently. This is a not a guarantee, however because I was a Skyward member I was singled out to get bumped up a class
  • Mobile check in and possible early check in with Marriot Bonvoy

The above, is certainly not everything, but perks I can recall experiencing because I am part of these rewards / loyalty / frequent flier programmes

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