5 tips to help you plan for your holiday (even on a budget)
21 August 2023Last Updated:18 September 2023
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It’s the middle of the year, so you’re likely dealing with a rapidly developing case of mid-year fatigue. It doesn’t help that winter is knocking on our door rather aggressively, nor that the price of all our favourite comfort foods has skyrocketed over the recent months. But don’t worry, we’re not here for a pity party – instead, we’re here to help you find some motivation to make it through the second half of the year with great vigour. And what’s more inspiring than having a wonderful holiday to look forward to in a few months’ time? Nothing. We agree.

We get that the economic climate is making it challenging to even imagine an end-of-the-year getaway. It’s not impossible though – especially if you get your notebook ready to jot down these top tips to plan an international rendezvous on a budget.

Make smart destination decisions

We’d all love to enjoy a white Christmas skiing in the Alps, but let’s be real: the ZAR/EUR exchange rate may mean you need to settle for a hill in Howick. If your wish was to ring in the new year in Times Square while watching a sensational fireworks show, or spend the first day of the year listening to the Vienna Philharmonic’s New Year's Concert live, it may, unfortunately, be time to curb your enthusiasm – unless you choose a destination where our currency will, in fact, get you far.

Choosing a ZAR-friendly destination is our number one tip to help you ensure you have a December holiday to remember without breaking the bank. There are plenty of enticing options to consider both on the continent (like nearby Malawi, Egypt or our island sister country Mauritius) and further abroad (think Argentina or Thailand). Namibia and Turkey are other options, as the ZAR is equal or close to equal with their respective currencies, the Namibian dollar and the Turkish lira, meaning your in-country expenses should be more or less the same as what you would pay for goods and services in SA.

If you can’t shake the urge for a EU jaunt, then opt for less expensive destinations such as the Czech Republic and Hungary. Neither of these countries use the euro so you could enjoy Europe for much less.

When deciding on a destination, also take into account the cost of a visa application, which can quickly become a headache if you’re planning a family trip. The sweet spot: a visa-free country whose currency is weaker than ours. Sweet, sweet bliss.

Buy forex on favourable days and store it indefinitely 

Once you’ve settled on your December holiday destination, you can start buying the forex you’ll need to finance your festive season. If your chosen country uses USD, EUR, GBP or AUD, Shyft is your best bet. That’s because you can buy forex at the cheapest rates and store it indefinitely. That means you can buy your forex on days when the rand is stronger and keep it on the app, safe and secure, till you’re ready to spend it.

Even if your country of choice doesn’t use the above-mentioned currencies, you could think about purchasing safe-haven options such as the USD nonetheless as you’re likely to enjoy more favourable exchanges.

Plan your travel itinerary (and look up free activities) in advance

We can’t emphasise enough how researching and planning your trip activities in advance can help you save on your holiday expenses. That’s because prior planning allows you to consider options without the pressure of the gaze of a smooth-talking tour salesman. You’ll also find that many tourist attractions offer discounts for online purchases as a way of reducing long in-person ticket lines, which is a great reason for you to whip out your Shyft virtual card and save on conversion fees.

To jumpstart your planning, search online for the top activities your holiday city offers. Read blogs, watch YouTube vlogs and see what trusted guides such as Lonely Planet recommend. Be sure to Google festivals and events happening in the city, search on Instagram for markets in the same neighbourhood as your accommodation – and don’t forget to look up free activities in which you can participate. All this will help you put together a travel itinerary for which you can budget in advance.

Pack your own padkos

Yep, packing essentials like breakfast cereal, boozy drinks and snacks is a top way to reduce your travel costs – just make sure you are within the limits of your host country’s allowance for what you may bring, otherwise you’ll pay a hefty fine or have to leave your goods at the airport, taking you right back to expensive square one.

If you’re not so keen to travel with food, be sure to look up the grocery stores closest to where you’ll be staying and head there to stock up on daily essentials, such as bread and cold meats for lunch sandwiches on the go. By reducing even just one meal of eating out, your holiday will be much more budget friendly.

Get your multicurrency forex card for easier travel

Our last tip, but certainly not the least important one, is to travel with a multicurrency forex card. What’s that, we hear you ask. Quite simple, really: you know how your SA bank card allows you to transact in rands, because that’s the currency that’s in your account? A multicurrency forex card allows you to transact in multiple currencies. The Shyft option, in particular, allows you to load USD, EUR, GBP and AUD, in addition to ZAR, onto one card.

The benefit of this? You can swipe the card no matter where you are and it will automatically use the relevant currency, which means you save on the transaction costs associated with traditional travel payment options. It’s also incredibly convenient, plus cheap(er) – the two C’s that make any budget holiday a success.

So what are you waiting for? Get planning; December is around the corner.

Shyft is your essential travel companion. Don’t leave home without it. 
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