In a perfect world, we'd all head out on holiday at least once a year and have all the funds required to book and plan the ultimate break.
But in reality, South Africans are feeling the pinch when it comes to ever-growing grocery prices as the crushing rand exchange rate, fuel hikes and drought take effect. Added to this, the politics of the day seems to be competing to outdo the inflationary issues we face daily.
But while some would argue that travel is a luxury, we here at Traveller24 could not disagree more. It's a necessity and just a quick scan of your best memories and experiences should convince you of its value.
The idea of planning a holiday, whether its just a road trip to the Garden Route or beyond our borders, can be daunting especially if you're on a tight budget - but it is not entirely impossible.
If you're methodical about your approach you'll understand that there are four crucial things to plan around - transport, accommodation, food and activities. Once you have an estimate on these nailed down, you can start chipping away to make your holiday a reality.
A holiday savings account, just like budgeting for birthday gifts, is part of any well-thought-out expense budget. You need to start planning as far in advance as possible. Yes, thinking Christmas in July...
Another practical step is to join relevant groups on Facebook that can share the heads up on special deals, or by signing up for useful newsletters, click here to receive Traveller24's weekly newsletter.
If you're planning an international holiday, keep an eye on flight prices and all-inclusive packages as detailed in these newsletters and group alerts. Also, don't forget to make sure all the kid's necessary documentation is in place. Don't have their passports yet?This in itself will require at least an extra R1 000, with pics and unabridged birth certificates factored in for two kids. Visa-free destinations are definitely more budget friendly.
But budgeting isn't only about the serious stuff. The best way to build the fun factor is to also involve the kids in the process. Start a holiday dream-board with them and use it as an incentive to get them into a savings frame of mind, all the while building their financial and geographical knowledge. When they're wanting frivolous treats or toys, they will have something to visualise and reference when you have to say no.
Added to this, we caught up with a few regulars on our Traveller24 social radar and asked them to share their top tips...
Russell Jarvis, Travelstart
"Budget-friendly travel is hard to pin down as it depends on how far you as the traveller are willing to go to save money. What does being on a budget mean to you? Sleeping in the airport to save on accommodation? Walking 10km from the train station to your lodging to save on the cost of taxi fare?
"I'm middle of the range; I love saving money but I don't want to step too far outside my comfort zone to do it.
"For me, being budget-friendly starts at home before I depart for overseas. In terms of forex ask your well-travelled friends and family if they have some leftover currency you can buy off them to avoid nasty commission fees at your local foreign exchange outlet. Europe on the Rand is increasingly difficult for South Africans but there are ways to make it easier on the pocket: if you're travelling around Europe rather use trains than planes - they're efficient, generally (but not always) cheaper than flying and are a great part of the Euro trip experience. For accommodation, one cannot ignore the merits of booking through peer-to-peer accommodation market places such as Airbnb and HomeAway if you're on a budget.
"It's a myth too that South Africans are getting squeezed wherever they travel. Try seeking out a destination that's beyond the expensive norm; parts of Eastern Europe, Asia and South America offer Rand-bound travellers bang for their buck while #AfriTravel (the official hashtag of African travel insights) offers some extraordinary experiences a little closer to home. Many of these places are also offer free visas or no visa at all so you're already saving time and money in the planning stages.
Di Brown, Roaming Giraffe
'If possible, avoid school holidays and long weekends, rates can be lower just out of peak season. Research free activities and highlights in the area.
"Go for clean and comfortable accommodation and use the money saved for attractions and activities. Self-catering is much cheaper than eating in Hotels or restaurants.
"The more the merrier. Renting a cottage and sharing with friends can bring accommodation costs down considerably. Just make sure you choose travel companions you get along with well."
Twiggy Moli, Sleepless in Soweto
"When it comes to eating out while travelling my best advice would be to speak to the locals and ask for places that serve the best, local cuisine. The restaurants or establishment may not be super fancy but most likely, the food will be fresh and affordable.
"I had the best local food in Ghana, food I had never tried before and I still crave it today. You can eat a burger or steak anytime or anywhere so be adventurous with your food choices.
"When it comes to choosing accommodation, stay at a self-catering guest house/apartment if the sole purpose of the trip is to explore the new town, city, country. In most cases, you'll be eating out and will only be spending time at the digs to sleep and recharge rather than relax. This, however, doesn't mean you should compromise your comfort. Choose a cute place that still looks nice and is comfortable enough for you to stay in if you're not up to going out during the day or night.
"While in Stellenbosch, I stayed at the best guesthouse, Bonne Esperance. It was very comfortable and perfect for someone on the go."
Coral-Leigh Stuart-deLange, Cupcake Mummy
"My tip for budget travel tip is to befriend a local. Because a local knows all the best spots and they'll take you to the hole in the wall that isn't aimed at tourists with tourist prices. You get the best sort of experience.
"I learned this in Zambia when a local we accidentally befriended took us to a random pub and we ate goat and had kili beer. Best memories!"
Cee from Ceeces' Travels
"As a millennial traveller, five-star accommodation is not something I do very often. So where do I stay and what is my hidden secret? Backpackers. Recently having travelled and stayed in different backpackers within the KZN province, I have learned that there is a whole secret culture behind the backpacker.
"I have found beautiful rooms, great staff, wonderful grounds and best of all, the environment to meet and mingle with like-minded travellers. The backpacker has options for every gender, age group and travelling style. Whether you want a private room, dorm bed or even shared space, backpackers have it. Most are within walking distance to shops, bars and banking facilities.
"There are few downsides to staying in a backpackers and one can find reviews on trip advisor and travel blog sites for verification of the establishment.
"But overall, Backpackers are aware of the budget rate they offer and you can often find cheaper day tours or local experiences posted on the walls or from the information desk. Most accommodations are self-catering, which means you cut down on your food budget and often share or cook meals together with other travellers.
What to read next on Traveller24:
- Budget Travel: What R100 will get you in these 7 world-class cities