Unexpected ways to stretch your rands while travelling

Posted by Taylah Strauss on 23 June 2022

2022 should be named ‘the year of frequent travel’, with many a wish-list trip being the conversation starter around the dinner table. But our economy, and the weak performance of the rand against other currencies, presents a unique set of challenges when it comes to planning (and budgeting for) a long-awaited international trip. Travel’s not off the table though, especially when there are tips and hacks to help you save a little dough on the way. Get the most bang for your buck with these penny-pinching ideas.

1. Get flexy with your flights

Border closures, flight suspensions and mandatory quarantine requirements have (understandably) kept South African soles firmly on the ground. Now, the price of international air travel is likely to become a major contributing factor too, with the demand for travel to and from South Africa resulting in stubbornly high airfares made even worse by rising jet fuel prices emanating from the Russia-Ukraine conflict. But if you can be flexible about flight times and destinations, and be savvy about how you book your trip, you can look forward to some well-deserved wanderlust that won’t break the bank.

How to do it


  • Start your week with a flight: Generally, flying earlier in the week (Monday or Tuesday instead of Thursday or Friday) translates to better deals, and the second flight of the day is usually less expensive than the first.
  • Don’t get caught up on the destination: If you’re simply looking for a change of scenery, tap into your adventurous side and pick your destination based on price rather than preference. Airline search engines have made it really easy to search the entire world to find the cheapest ticket. Head to Skyscanner or Google Flights and use the explore tools to find an affordable
  • Book your flight in the most cost-effective currency: Airlines sell tickets to many countries and in many currencies and, quite often, will charge different amounts for the exact same ticket. Use this to your advantage by comparing flight prices across different currencies. We’ve had the most success using an airline’s home currency. Then download Shyft, the nifty global money app that allows you to convert ZAR to EUR, AUD, USD and GBP at the best preferential live rates. Convert your rands to the currency needed to book your flight and use a virtual card on the app to pay. Plus, all new downloads include R100 to use within the app, meaning that flight you’re eyeing will be even cheaper. Shyft is available to download for free, no matter where you bank, on Google play, Apple App Store and Huawei App Gallery.

2. Stay season savvy

Travel just before or just after the season starts. A Provence holiday for the last week in the off-season will run you up around 65% less than a week in the same accommodation in the high season. As will be the case with most other destinations, the weather will already be spectacularly summery, but restaurants and tours were still charging off-season prices.

How to do it


  • Research local events and holidays before booking: Peak season doesn’t always follow the weather. Often, a destination’s busiest times correspond with a particular holiday or event. Take Munich for example: it’s going to be 10 times more busy and more expensive over Oktoberfest. If you’re looking to save some cash, steer clear of any events that might spike crowds and prices.
  • Find the edge: Whether it’s the edge of the season, or edge of a popular city. Doing things just a little bit outside of the norm is a sure-fire way to keep expenses low.

3. Swipe and save

We all know the old travel adage: cash is king. Well, not always… Technology has come a long way and while there’s nothing wrong with drawing cash on arrival or paying the local currency booth a visit, in 2022 there are smarter and cheaper ways to manage your finances abroad.

How to do it


  • Buy forex when the markets are in your favour: Don’t wait until a few days before your trip to secure foreign currency. With Shyft, you’re able to keep tabs on the ever-changing markets with live exchange rate updates on the app. You can then buy your desired forex at the best rates (and with no additional costs) and store it in your virtual wallet until you need it.
  • Pay with your Shyft physical card: Order a physical card through the Shyft app to use while you’re travelling. You can load up to four currencies onto the card, then withdraw cash when you arrive in your destination or simply swipe it to pay. It’s a great way to save on all the transaction fees you might incur with traditional payment methods and it adds an extra layer of safety to your international transactions. No need to worry about a swallowed card at a foreign ATM or being robbed of your stash of cash by a pickpocket. In addition, the app is flexible so if you’re worried about losing your card or going over budget, you could, for example, limit the availability of funds daily in order to access just one day’s worth of travel expenses at a time.

4. Don’t go hungry!

Were you even on holiday if you didn’t spend half your time eating?

How to do it


  • Eat at local markets: It’s usually significantly cheaper and will allow you to immerse yourself in local cuisine and culture.
  • Big lunch, little dinner: If you prefer a sit-down meal, plan for it to be at lunch instead of dinner. At European restaurants, multi-course lunch specials (similar to their dinners) are typical and won’t cost you much.
  • Eat in: Book hotels that offer breakfast for free or cheaper than it would be to go out. Most hotels have buffet breakfasts and you may even be able to take some fruit or juice in your backpack for extra energy on the go.

5. Put your trust in some tech

Avid travellers use tech to help them travel more safely, easily and cheaply. There’s no shortage of handy travel tech, and if you use it properly you could be on your way to great savings.

How to do it


  • Create a custom itinerary: Save the money you would have spent on a tour guide or travel agent with Tripit. Upload your travel email confirmations to the free app and it will create a custom itinerary for you, complete with maps and directions you can share on your calendar and social media.
  • Try a free tour: Vox City is a flexible self-guided sightseeing and tour package that enables you to appreciate your destination at your own pace without joining an expensive guided tour. It’s a great way for independent-minded travellers to explore a city at a much cheaper rate than an in-person tour. This saves a lot of money if you’re travelling with a group – as you only have to book one tour. You can download maps, sightseeing itineraries and hundreds of points of interest (POIs). Another handy feature? The app recommends excellent photo locations and free Wi-Fi spots as you roam the city.
  • Prioritise free excursions: Spot is like having a friend in your pocket. The app connects you with cool places worldwide based on recommendations from friends and trusted travel experts. In addition, the app lists free and paid activities, helping you save money while exploring your immediate surroundings. We use this if we’re looking for a last-minute excursion without wanting to spend all of our disposable income and to collect spots we love to visit.

If you plan ahead, your savings will make your trip so much more fun – and no more worrying about surviving on only tea and dry toast for the rest of the month after you return! So, where will you go? The options are endless if you’re willing to explore them. With these tips, you can have your grand adventure and return home with money left in your pocket.

Picture: Supplied


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