When I resigned from my full time job in October 2015, I had no plan and only R15, 000 in my savings account. Most thought I was crazy, some said I was brave but I was just craving adventure and after all, if all failed I had a degree to fall back on.
I spontaneously booked a one way ticket to Istanbul where I stayed till March 2016 – while on my way to Turkey I stopped in Abu Dhabi for a day and while in Turkey I was lucky to find a job as an English and French tutor so this enabled me to explore 12 cities and I also went on a weekend trip to Cyprus, Greece.
I later returned to South Africa for a month, then I spent a few days in Mozambique and I was home for 24 hours before leaving for Dublin , Ireland.
Upon returning to SA, I went on a 16 day road trip from Johannesburg to Durban and Mpumalanga.
I spent a week in Zambia exploring their beautiful capital city. When I returned from Lusaka, I had a day to recover at home before jetting off again, this time to Cape Town with fellow blogger Verushka from Spice Goddes Blog . We decided to be tourists in our own country and we spent 15 days exploring the Western Cape.
Overall, I’ve slept in more than 30 beds, taken 26 flights, and been in six different countries across three continents and I’m off to my 7th country in August.
I’m often asked “how do you afford to travel?” and when I say it’s simple, no one ever believes me. I am not rich, but I’m incredibly fortunate to be 100% in control of my time and location because I am my own boss.
Being on back to back trips has taught me so much and as usual I’m always willing to share tips:
1. Check these websites
• Skyscanner –www.skyscanner.net (My absolute favourite)
Skyscanner is a leading global travel search site that enables people to find comparisons for flights, hotels and car hire. The site is multilingual, offering flight searches in over 30 languages. Skyscanner does not sell flights directly; instead, the site can be used to find the cheapest deal for a desired route after which users are automatically transferred to the airline or travel supplier’s website to make their booking directly.
• Kayak – www.kayak.com
Similar to Skyscanner. In addition to its flight search engine technology, Kayak also features regular news items from the travel and flight industry as well as travel tips for consumers.
• Google Flights – www.google.com/flights
With Google Flights if you find a flight you like and save the itinerary. Google tracks the prices and emails you every time there’s an update.
2. Collect and Use Frequent Flyer Miles
Frequent flyer miles also known as travel points, are part of a loyalty program offered by airlines. The more you fly the more points you get. You can use these points to buy tickets, for upgrades or gift them to friends.
Avios is the reward currency for the British Airways Executive Club, Iberia Plus, Meridiana Club s, as well as the Avios Travel Rewards Programme in the UK and South Africa.
How it works?
The easiest way to earn Avios is through every day spending like booking flights with British Airways andkulula.com; filling up at BP; converting Pick ‘n Pay smart shopper points; renting a car from Avis or booking accommodation on avios.com.
What can I do with my Avios?
Avios can be used towards flights with British Airways, on flight upgrades, car hire with Avis and accommodation. When using Avios you only need to pay airline taxes.
Avios can get you to Durban, Livingston, Harare, Port Elizabeth and Victoria Falls, Cape Town, Windhoek, 49 European destinations via a UK airport, Moscow and 14 other destinations in Eastern Europe.
Tip: A return economy flight to Mauritius from Johannesburg with Avios during peak periods can cost up to 20 000 Avios + R 700 Reward Flight Saver (Prices are subject to change)
If you decide to cancel or change a flight, you won’t lose your Avios as changes or cancellations can be made up to 24 hours before a flight for a fee.
Do my Avios expire?
Avios don’t expire, as long as members collect, use or purchase at least one Avios every 36 months.
How to sign up?
Becoming an Avios Travel Rewards Programme member is easy and free. Simply go to www.avios.com or speak to an Avios SA call centre agent on 021 427 7555. Opening hours are Monday to Friday, 8am – 6.30pm; Saturday, Sundays and public holiday, 9am – 1pm.
• Star Alliance
“28 airines working in harmony.” They offer easy connections to almost any destination in the world. Includes Turkish Airlines and South African Airways.
I recently only paid R2200 instead of R5400 from Istanbul to Johannesburg using my 10 000 skywards.
• Flight Centre Newsletter
Sign up for the Flight Centre newsletter and you receive a discount voucher during your birthday month.
3. Sign Up for Flight Alerts
Have you wondered how much time you waste searching for flights? Often we end up querying by the same origin and destination obsessively to check if the price has changed. Sign up at www.airfarewatchdog.com
Tip: Make sure you clear your browser search history before searching for a flight the second time. This is because the websites store your search data and when you come back they know you are more likely to buy than before.
4. Consider the Day and Time
Try to book your trip either WAY early (flights open up generally 300 days in advance), or the day before. The cheapest days to fly are the ones where people fly the least. So traveling on “Friday, Sunday and Monday” is not a great idea if you are trying to save money. According to Daily Mail UK, Tuesday is the best day to fly as flights are cheaper.
Tip: I’ve also learned that departure time is an important factor as flights that depart very early (between 5am – 7am) and flights that depart in the evening after 8:30pm are cheaper than peak time flights.
Direct and business class flights are great but if you’re on a budget it’s best to fly economy with transits.
Tip: Dubai International Airport is fancy and amazing but they only offer 1 hour free Wi-Fi compared to Abu Dhabi International which is not as fancy but has unlimited access to WiFi. 😉
Have you used any of these tips when booking flights? Feel free to like, comment, or share.
Disclaimer: This article is in partnership with Avios – www.avios.com