Travel on a shoestring budget: Maximise thrills, minimise bills

As the year-end approaches, wanderlust beckons. Although financial constraints may hold you back, there are ways to experience the magic of travel while keeping your wallet happy – provided you plan carefully and stick to a budget.“A holiday helps reduce stress and improve your mental wellbeing, allowing you to return to your daily life with a fresh perspective and greater motivation,” says Shafeeka Anthony, marketing manager of, a site that helps South Africans to make good money choices.“In these tough economic times, though, it’s important to remember that careful budgeting is key to unlocking great travel experiences. You don’t want to come home to unexpected bills and debt that will limit your options in the new year.”

JustMoney offers 15 tips to enjoy a holiday without breaking the bank:

  1. Plan ahead: Create a detailed budget and travel locally, or visit destinations that don’t require visas. This helps maximise time and minimise expenses.
  2. Compare prices: Search for deals on flights, accommodation, and transport. Budget-friendly options include camping, house swaps, hostels, and guest houses, which are cheaper and more social.
  3. Make the most of loyalty programmes: Use airline miles, airport lounges, hotel points, and other benefits. Ensure that you earn more miles or points with your latest travel plans.
  4. Travel in a group: Holidays with friends or family enable you to split costs.
  5. Pack light: A carry-on bag avoids baggage fees and makes your journey more flexible.
  6. Take out travel insurance: Avoid the expense attached to unforeseen events. Be aware of policy exclusions before signing up.
  7. Download travel apps: Get information on last-minute deals and real-time currency exchange rates.
  8. Stay connected: Use free Wi-Fi in public spaces and cafés to avoid data roaming charges.
  9. Eat local: Save money and enjoy authentic local cuisine by cooking your own meals or eating at local markets and street stalls.
  10. Walk or bike: Explore destinations on foot or rent a bike to save money and get some exercise.
  11. Pack snacks: Carry snacks and a refillable water bottle to keep hunger and thirst at bay and avoid expensive tourist traps.
  12. Visit free or low-cost attractions: Explore parks, museums, art galleries, and historic sites. Check for days with reduced or free admission. Check local event calendars for free concerts, festivals, markets, and other community events.
  13. Be frugal with drinks: Alcoholic beverages can be expensive at bars and restaurants. Limit your alcohol consumption or choose budget-friendly options.
  14. Practise safety: Avoid risky areas and be cautious with your belongings.

15.  Limit souvenir shopping: Choose a few meaningful items from local markets.

“Traveling on a shoestring is all about finding the balance between adventure and your budget. With careful planning, it’s possible to have a great time and make lasting memories without spending a fortune,” says Anthony.“Be flexible and remain open to changes in your travel plans. Spontaneity can lead to budget-friendly adventures.” is a trusted voice within the personal finance sector. The JustMoney website offers articles, money management tools, and a wide range of financial products and services. More than 250,000 South Africans subscribe to the newsletter to stay informed and become financially savvy. Find the website here.