It's the season to be jolly and many people will be using this festive time to get away and relax.
While getaways are always exciting, they do unfortunately often end up costing more than planned. Making sure you have a proper budget and stick to it will ensure that the holiday mood continues into next year and that you’re not left with any financial regrets.
John Manyike, head of financial education at Old Mutual, cautions holidaymakers: “Many people do make a holiday budget in advance but once they arrive at their destination, their excitement gets the better of them and their financial planning goes out the window. Think strategically to help you stay within your budget throughout your vacation.”
Manyike shares the following five tips to curb overspending while travelling:
1. Do your homework
Before you depart, do some research and plan your route and your excursions on a detailed map to help you cut down on unnecessary fuel or public transport fares. This could also help you to find more cost-effective destinations outside of the typically more expensive tourist spots.
2. Ask about hotel services and discounts
If you’re staying at a hotel or resort, find out in advance what amenities and services are included. Make use of any free services provided by the hotel, such as Wi-Fi and shuttle services, as they can add up to significant savings over the duration of a holiday. Many hotels and resorts also have loyalty programmes, so if you’re a regular guest you should find out if you’re eligible for any discounts.
3. Travel light
If you’re flying, keep to the baggage allowance for the carrier you’re travelling with. This will ensure you eliminate any extra baggage costs. Even if you’re going on a long trip, it will be cheaper to take half the clothes you need and make use of a laundry service (or wash them yourself) than taking extra baggage.
4. Use cash instead of your credit card
Using cash will help you keep track of how much you have and maintain your allocated daily budget. Portion your money for each day, making sure you carry only the day’s cash to spend and not a cent more, and only use your credit card in an emergency. Another advantage of carrying cash is that you can often negotiate for discounts. But remember to be vigilant with both your money and cards to avoid falling victim to theft.
5. Pack your own food
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Eating a balanced breakfast will sustain you through most of the day, meaning you can avoid costly lunches at restaurants. Pack and enjoy your own picnic lunch instead.
Manyike adds that there are also savings precautions you need to take at home before you set off on your journey. To save on energy costs, Manyike suggests you switch off your geyser, your lights and all non-essential appliances. “If you’re away for some time, try to clear your fridge and switch it off before you go, and set your pool’s pump or water feature on energy-efficient timers,” he says. “By following these tips, and sticking to your holiday budget, you are likely to return home in good financial health and ready to start 2017 in a relaxed frame of mind,” concludes Manyike.