Having travelled South Africa on a budget for a month with a backpack on my back, I can happily share a few things I learned about saving one’s pennies while on the road.
Get your hands on free travel apps
There are loads of nifty travel apps available that save you time, money and help you organise your travel plans at no cost. My new favourite app is Skyscanner. It really does find you the best flight deal even if it is roughly R100 cheaper than other popular South African flight aggregator websites.
Use Coast to Coast for backpackers details
Save money on data and find accommodation and fun things to do the good old fashioned way – by browsing a book, not the web. The Coast to Coast and Alternative Route booklets are comprehensive where-to-stay and what-to-do guides for backpacking travellers. Grab one at your nearest hostel – they’re free.
Consider a meal replacement
Backpacking isn’t the healthiest way of travelling. Usually food is bought on a price and convenience basis, which doesn’t always do the trick in terms of great nutrition. You may want to consider travelling with a meal replacement powder that you simply mix with water. It’s a quick and easy breakfast that gives your body a dose of the vitamins and minerals it needs. A tin of Ensure (by Abbott) will last you about a week and you grab it off almost every supermarket shelf for about R120.
Buy a 3G dongle and data
If you’re travelling with your laptop or data-munching smartphone you may find that some hostels don’t offer free WiFi which means… paying for WiFi! When you’re on a lengthy backpacking, paying for hostel internet can be expensive when you wish to Skype with loved ones or share photos from your adventure on Facebook. It’s far more cost effective to travel with a 3G dongle or sim that’s loaded with data, so when you don’t have the luxury of free WiFi, you have a cheaper alternative to backpacker data rates.
There are so many reasons to make friends while backpacking and it just so happens that cutting costs is one of them. When travellers club together to buy meal ingredients everybody wins. The same goes for activities. Canoe hire for one person is more expensive if you go alone. Find a friend with an itch to paddle a river and both of you will spend half the cash.
by Dalene Ingham-Brown