Who doesn’t love to travel without breaking the bank? The holidays are creeping closer and now is the time to start planning that amazing tropical holiday. I’ve been traveling for years, and one thing I’ve always done is to never use a travel agent. There’s so many different ways you can travel without breaking the bank.

Here’s my TOP 5 list of travel tips:

  1. Always book your holidays before the 15th December! All prices go up between 15 December to 31 January – so the best time to travel, i.e. make flight and hotel bookings is before or after those dates.
  2. If you are a member of banks that have travel incentives like hotels or flight miles – sign up for it and actually use it. It’s amazing how those points add up throughout the year on expenses you would’ve paid anyway. Save them to use for that big December holiday.
  3. For hotels – if you’re not signed up with your bank’s loyalty program, then sign up for hotel group loyalty programs. A great one is the Marriot loyalty program. They are now the biggest hotel group in the world so it means you can stay and earn at almost any hotel of your choosing worldwide. The Marriot group also owns the Protea brand of hotels in South Africa so whether you’re traveling internationally or locally you can score. You get special perks and treatment if you’re a loyalty member an often hotels will upgrade you at no extra charge.
  4. Google Flights  has possibly the best search engine for flights. It will search for the cheapest flights and if you’re looking for hotels just type in “Hotels” in the Google search bar for a listing of hotels by any order.
  5. After you find your options on Google Flights or Hotels- go directly to the website of the hotel or airline as often you’ll get even cheaper rates with guarantees from them that are not listed on search engines like Google, Kayak or Skyscanner. Many of the hotel bookings are block booked by travel agents at a higher price, so going directly to the hotel you might just get cheaper rates.

Bonus tip: Always travel with one checked in bag and one carry on to save baggage costs with overseas flights. Often you’ll pay a minimum of $25 for checked in luggage with international domestic airlines. The fewer bags you have to check in, the better.