This winter will be the first in years that South Africans can escape en masse to the sunshine of the northern hemisphere or explore the rich soil and culture closer to home. And with no travel-training over the past 24 months, many might feel out of shape and stressed when preparing for a trip. This is why global travel search site Cheapflights.co.za has compiled a handy checklist of tips, including the best time to travel, local and international destinations that won’t break the bank, and tools to help travellers plan their next trip, whether they’re headed overseas or road-tripping across Mzansi.
- Start your travel fund
With summer holidays left behind and inflation leading to a rise in prices, travel budgets most likely are quite thin. But it doesn’t mean that South Africans have to postpone a trip to their dream destination yet again. Whether you’re keen to go on a local break or plan on splashing out for a trip abroad, consider starting to save now. Going old-school and breaking out your piggy bank is an option. Another approach is to do some recon on any old subscriptions you may still be paying for but not using or cutting down on that daily cup of joe. Travellers can get a headstart with Vacay Valuator, an online tool that uses a chosen timeline and the average costs of everyday luxuries to help find out how far you can go by making small changes in your daily expenses.
- Explore winter in SA for less
Everything passes, but the love for travelling around your own country remains. This is evidenced by more than a quarter (about 26%) of all flight searches being made by South Africans for domestic destinations this winter. The good news is that taking a flight within the country is about 17% cheaper during winter than summer. And Mzansi has many amazing locales to explore no matter the season! With saving in mind, travellers can opt for less-crowded cities such as Polokwane, Pietermaritzburg or Krugersdorp in Gauteng, three of which will cost you as little as R700-720 overnight on average.
- Make the most of public holidays and winter travel dates
Many of South Africa’s big public holidays and long weekends have passed but there’s still one weekend you can look forward to: Youth Day on 16th June, which lands on a Thursday this year, with Father’s Day not long thereafter on Sunday, 19th June. This means that, if you take an extra day off at the end and start of each week around that weekend, you can enjoy a few days off for a local getaway. If you’re keen on travelling a bit further, Cheapflights’ data shows that the 30th week of the year – 25th to 31st July – is the cheapest to travel within South Africa while 12th to 18th September is best if you’re looking for affordable flights internationally.
- Go luxe for less
When we think of a ‘holiday’, most of us imagine a Eurotrip or a big-city getaway. This year, ditch your go-to destinations for something a little different – and a lot more luxe. According to Cheapflights, the top trending destinations that received the highest increase in flight searches include luxury spots like Dubai, the Maldives and Vienna, Austria. What’s more is that flights to these destinations are cheaper than pre-pandemic with the average cost of a return economy flight to Dubai being about R7,882 while the Maldives and Vienna will set you back a mere R9,022 and R8,853, respectively. The data also shows that the average price for hotels worldwide has a moderate increase of 8% this year compared to the pre-pandemic. Yet this hasn’t stopped travellers from opting for 5-star over 4-star hotels, previously the most popular choice pre-pandemic, with the share of searches for 5-star hotels growing by about 31%.
- Go solo
While travelling with friends or family is always fun, why not push your limits this year with a solo trip? Travelling alone can be liberating and will help even the most introverted of us come out of our shells. You may only have yourself to rely on but you’ll also challenge yourself in other ways such as overcoming a language barrier or pushing yourself to meet new people. Winter is also the ideal time to go it alone as there are fewer crowds in tourist hot spots in the southern hemisphere so you’re able to connect with the locals while winter activities abound – think food and wine festivals, extra cosy cafes with fireplaces and more.