5 tips to kick-start your travel adventures on a low budget

09 Oct 2017, Posted by Fungai Tichawangana in Tips & Ideas

Travelling can be very expensive. However, on the lower end, it is also much cheaper than many people think it is. We’re lucky in that we both have had lots of opportunities to travel because of our work and education, but we’ve also figured out ways to satiate our endless desire for seeing new places without breaking the bank. Here are some of them.


1. Travel is not about far away places

Someone once said that travel is a mindset. You don’t have to go to another country to start your travel adventures. In Harare, where I’m from, I know many people who say they can’t afford to go and see wild animals at Zimbabwe’s national parks and yet Mukuvisi Woodlands, a nature reserve within the city, houses giraffe, zebras, ostriches and other animals. Then there’s untold fun to be had at Lake Chivero, about an hour’s drive from the city centre, more animals at Mbizi Game Park, adventures awaiting at the legendary Chinhoyi Caves and awe-inducing views at Domboshava and Ngomakurira. It’s a mindset. Start somewhere.


2. Add days to your work travel

In 2011, I travelled to Geneva, Switzerland to do a presentation at a United Nations event on Internet Freedom. I asked the organisation that was paying for the airfare if they could book my return date a few days later than the end date of the conference. They were happy to do this as long as the flight costs were similar. So I got a three day Holiday in Switzerland and all I had to take care of was food and accommodation for those three days. I had some family in Zurich so I caught a train from Geneva and stayed with them after the conference.

This is a great way to see places you would not ordinarily visit. Ask for extra days on your itinerary – preferably at the end of your trip or conference. I think it’s much better at the end than at the beginning. When you first arrive in a place, you are disoriented and probably don’t know anyone there. After a few days there though, whether you are having business meetings, attending a conference or doing other business, you get to know some people and develop a general idea of where things are and the location of the cool spots for sightseeing, etc. So much better to be chilling when you have dealt with the initial ditziness that new places can induce.

Having said this, don’t skimp on your work time to go sightseeing. Not cool.


3. Stay with friends

Accommodation is the single most expensive part of most holidays. You can cut this cost out easily by staying with friends.

A few words of caution. Don’t be that friend who overstays their welcome AND remember that while it may not cost your friends anything to house you, food, extra laundry, etc are an expense incurred on their part. While you’re staying with them, see if you can help with food; buy some groceries, pay for a meal.

You also don’t want to be the messy guest who creates extra work for your hosts. Help with the dishes and clean up after yourself.

One last thing; if you’re going to stay with people when you travel, it’s a great idea to open up your house to them so that they can come and stay with you should they wish to visit your city/town.


4. AirBnB or Couchsurf

The only time we stay in a hotel is if someone else is paying – or if we’re desperate – or if one of us is treating the other, not because we don’t like hotels, but because they would make most of our trips unaffordable. Our first stop for accommodation is often AirBnB and through it we’ve found great accommodation in people’s homes in South Africa, the US, Zimbabwe, UK, Kenya, Tanzania and Zambia – all at reasonable rates.

The other thing we like about AirBnB is that you often get to meet people from those places in a homely environment and there’s nothing like getting a non-commercial introduction to a city or country from locals.

We’ve never used CouchSurfing.com, but we keep on hearing awesome things about it. If you want to go even cheaper than a room in someone’s house, get a couch! 


5. Go with friends

We stayed at an AirBnB in Nairobi recently while hosting some guests from the USA. It was one of the most luxurious houses we have ever stayed at; a six-bedroomed affair with three stories, four bathrooms and large floor to ceiling windows in the lounge. The whole place cost $150 a night. And there were 8 of us – and a baby. That comes to just under US$17 per person per night.

If you can get a group of people together, things get cheaper. Even if you’re booking hotel rooms, you are more likely to get discounts and other extras for group bookings. You can share fuel costs and bargain for discounts for activities like horse riding, boating, etc.

AND, the best reason, is that it’s super fun to travel with friends.



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