Five money saving tips for international travel

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With the Rand constantly inching its way downward international travel is only getting more expensive. Here are a few tips for saving money on your next trip outside of our borders.

Use an independent travel agent

There are numerous large travel agencies you can pick and choose from. Walking into a branch you can find exclusive offers and really good deals on specific packages due to their buying power, but for most travellers, the best option is to head for a small, independent travel agency.

At this stage, you are probably rolling your eyes in frustration with the belief that booking for yourself online is the way to save money, but this simply is not so. While it is true that it’s sometimes easier/cheaper to get a plane ticket online due to the fact that agents make their money by charging a service charge, for everything else the independent agent is without a doubt the way to go.

Everything in the travel industry has an agent commission already built into the price. Hotels don’t sell their rooms for less than the full price, which includes the commission, because doing so would alienate their agents, so booking directly only incurs you a 10% agent commission, which you get nothing for.

By booking with the independent agent, however, that agent has control over how much of their commission they want to give up, and if you are booking a decent package you might find them basically willing to do all the work booking things for you, while also offering a tiny discount.

These discounts can be significantly larger if you find the agent who controls the General Sales Agreement for a particular product or suite of travel services for international travel companies in South Africa. Often they are scoring commissions of around 20% on a package and their room to negotiate you a discount is, therefore, that much larger.

Consider using an American agent

Cruise companies love Americans and as such there are numerous discounts, offers and special prices available in that country for cruising than anywhere else. This is a global service however so sometimes simply sending an American agent a request can net you a discount on cruising that you otherwise may not have received.

Remember you will have to pay charges on the international transfer and exchange rates can make all the difference so check them carefully, but even under these circumstances, it is quite common to be able to find yourself paying significantly less than you would have back here in SA.

Lone travellers need to ask

Travelling alone can often seem grossly unfair as you are charged a near full rate for two people to book into hotels. It makes sense from a hotel or package tour operator’s perspective, but unless you don’t mind sharing a room with strangers can end up costing a lot more.

Fortunately, an increasing number of tour operators are waking up to the fact that there is a large market out there, who want to travel more, but don’t for this reason. When you contact a tour operator or agent to book a package ask about their solo traveller options.

More often than not these days there will be specific solo traveller departure dates that are not advertised and that you can hop onto for much less than when you join a regular tour.

Return flights aren’t always cheaper

How often have you bought a larger box of cereal, or a bulk meat package assuming you are paying less for buying in bulk, when in fact you may have been paying a lot more per kilogram? The same hangover exists when it comes to flights.

People often assume that buying a return flight on the same airline is cheaper than if they buy one way, but this is not necessarily so. When looking for flights, shop around and make sure you check the individual price of flights going in each direction. You may be surprised.

Consider house-sitting

Visiting the big cities of the world can be wildly expensive, but if your dates are open, and you are willing to fit in with other peopleĀ and do a little work, house-sitting is a very viable option for accommodation.

Sites like trustedhousesitters.com can help put you in touch with people in New York, Sydney, London and many other places who need your help ultimately ensuring that you get a home way nicer than any hotel and save the sometimes crushing costs.

Alternately you can register your home on a house swopping site like lovehomeswap.com thereby earning points every time someone stays in your home. These points can be redeemed for your own trip to stay in someone else’s home at a later point.