The idea that travelling is a luxury only rich people can afford is the myth responsible for keeping a lot of otherwise free spirited explorers confined to one spot. It is easy to see how this myth is believable especially given the new dollar wahala and economic struggles Nigerians are facing. But this idea that you have to break the bank to travel is really not true. Everyone can afford a trip at least once a year, all it takes is a little planning and in this posts we will give a few tips to show you how.
1. Create a monthly travel savings account
This does not necessarily need to be a bank account but we recommend it so that there are chances of you spending the money. We all have at least one redundant bank account so you can repurpose it for saving towards travel. Set aside a specific amount each month- N5000, N10,000, N15,000- whatever is comfortable for you. In a year you will be able to afford a flight ticket somewhere.
2. Pick a Destination
Now there are different types of travel for different budget types. Picking your destination is tied very much to your budget and should be considered even when you are deciding your travel savings plan. Some destinations are more expensive than others. Some have a low flight cost but expensive hotels and high cost of living. So you have to consider all of this against your budget. There is a destination for every pocket size. For example if you live in Nigeria, Ghana, or Cotonou or even visiting some of our local tourist destinations or resorts like Ikogosi Warm Springs or Obudu or Ibom le Meridien resort and making a staycation out of it might be within your budget. If you live in the UK, a lot of European countries are less than $200 flight/train away and a lot of UK cities cost even less to visit and are worth the trip. From the US, a lot of flights to Caribbean nations like the Bahamas, Jamaica, Barbados etc as well as internal flights within America cost less than $500 dollars flight. You really have no excuse not to travel. When picking a destination on a budget, always ask yourself: how much of your own region have you seen? It’s always a good place to start.
3. When to travel
There are peak and off peak travel seasons for every destination and this is well known to flight and hotel service providers. During peak periods prices of everything may double or triple even. So once you’ve picked your destination take the time to find out the months popular with tourists and try to book either right before or after that period. Booking off peak dates saves you money and the rowdiness of the thousands of tourists flooding a city at the same time.
4. Book Early
This cannot be emphasized enough. Sometimes you get all the best deals for close to nothing when you book way ahead a time. But this is Nigerians’ Achilles’ heel so we’ll get on to the next tip.
5. Last minute deals
Seeing as last minute is really our order of the day and not wanting to leave out those with such spontaneous travel patterns, here’s a tip for you. If you don’t live in Nigeria this works for flights as well but if you do finding great last minute deals for flights is rather difficult. However, you may still be able to find last minute hotels deals using the Hotel Tonight app to find cheap hotels rates. Essentially, each day hotels offer very low rates for rooms that have not been booked to ensure maximum occupancy instead of having empty rooms. This goes for flights as well for those who live outside the country, try lastminute.com. This can be a life saver.
6. Hotel: Luxury vs Budget
This here is the reason a lot of people can’t afford to travel-the idea that your accommodation has to be luxurious for the benefit of snapchat and instagram. A few years ago hotel cost was not a huge concern but with the recent dollar rates it is a huge expense and as such you need to consider what kind of traveller you are and what type of vacation you plan to have. If you’ve planned for a restful stay and will be spending longer hours in your hotel, then it is worth spending the extra buck on 4-5star hotels but if you plan to explore your destination city and your hotel is only good for sleeping and showering in the morning then look for some great bed & breakfasts or 3* hotels or even hostels and save some money. There’s no shame in it plus you’ll be able to afford more tours and pictures from all your exploring will be greater than a hotel room photo. We recommend using hotels.com for your search as it has a vast number of hotels and you can filter based on your particular needs and budget. Once you find the right hotel for you, you can either purchase through their portal or via a local platform like wakanow.com.
7. Phone a friend
This is our favourite tip and this is how a lot of our team members have made it to a lot of countries. Why bother spending on hotels when you have friends and family in different countries. Just visit those countries and save on hotels. However know your friends and have them invite you, keep your trip short and don’t be that annoying friend who just drops in.
8. Go in a group
A group may be two or more but having an extra person to split costs with can go a very long way. However, pick your group carefully or you might end up spending more.
9. Hunt for Forex Early
Since getting forex is now the latest uphill battle and since no one wants to spend N350 for a dollar, it’s best to start the hunt for cheaper forex on time. Getting Personal Travel Allowance (PTA) from the bank used to be the best way to get foreign currency at bank rates for your travels, however only very few banks offer this service but if you start searching early your banks just might sell to you. Also note that the Dollar is not the only foreign currency and banks might have other currencies (Pound or Euro for example) to sell to you over the counter so explore that as well.
If that fails, here’s a really nifty trick you can use: Send yourself money via Western Union or MoneyGram to your destination country. This has been proven to work by our team, however, always call the destination Western Union/MoneyGram pick-up agent to make sure you can pick up the money so you don’t get stranded.
10. Flight tricks
Route your flight through a less expensive airport. Some routes are more expensive than others, shop around for alternative routes to get to your destination, there will be a cheaper connection. A good tool to search is skiplagged.com. It will show the different flights routes and how long each route takes in hours and their fares and you can decided the best route to buy locally. A few thousand naira saved on a connection flight rather than a direct route can be worth it.
11. Trip Duration
The longer a trip is the more expensive the entire journey is. 5 to 7 days is really all you need to visit most places after which each extra day becomes an unnecessary expense. Plan and prioritize your activities and pack them into as few number of days as possible.
You too can become an avid traveller. You have no excuse. We’ve had a solo tripzapper visit Johannesburg for 4 days and 3 nights for a total of less than N300,000 inclusive of flight, hotel, 3 days of tours and feeding. Another visited the Bahamas from the US to spend Christmas with a friend for 2 weeks and spent a total of $500. And yet another spent a total of £100 on train tickets visiting friends in 6 different English cities.
This could be you too. No need to break the bank. Explore the world!
Got other tips? Please share in the comments section below. Safe travels