If you’re excited by misty mountaintops, open roads and far flung destinations, but your travel dreams are limited by your budget, then we have just the right advice to get you out there this year.

We spoke to Philile Nzimande and Pearl Nkosi, owners of local travel agency Traveling Cheapskates to get some budget travel tips. 

The pair now manage a social enterprise that puts together budget travel packages around South Africa. The black women owned entity specialises in custom-made and pre-packaged deals for groups, solo wanderers, families and couples. 

#TravelYourBackyard

It seems you don’t have to go very far at all to find adventure. “The #TravelYourBackyard movement plays on the ‘start where you are and do what you can’ concept,” Pearl told us. “It aims to encourage travel enthusiasts and curious peeps to hook up and explore their cities and neighbourhoods.” 

“KZN, Eastern Cape, Limpopo and the Free State offer great value for money,” Philile advises those looking to travel on a budget. For example, not far from Johannesburg the picturesque town of Magaliesburg offers accommodation from as little as R200 per night, with access to hiking and horse trails, incredible views and a relaxing vibe. 

Travel in groups

Pearl explains that while there are many benefits to traveling in a group, first and foremost cost is shared, and discounts are easily negotiated. When organising to travel in a group, understanding the different interests is essential and involves asking many questions that will help develop common ground and balance, she told us. 

“Our motto is “Umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu” which is Zulu for “We are because of each other” and this directs a lot of our narrative, which also makes group travel a great tool for engagement and self-development in many ways,” she says. 

Women travelling alone

We asked experienced travel counsellor, Zaytoon-Nisa Noorbhai, how best to stay safe when travelling.

She says the most important aspect of any trip is planning. By preparing your trip beforehand you will avoid wandering around looking for a place to stay, you’ll have clear directions for travel routes, there will be someone waiting for your arrival and you will be able to share your itinerary with someone trusted who will know where you are at all times. 

Additionally, it is best to sign up for tours and experiences with reputable companies. “Generally, people can see that you not a local, so be courteous and smile,” Zaytoon advises. “You don’t have to be extra friendly, but a smile helps.” 

Finally, she warns, if you are going out at night, don’t have too much to drink, evaluate a situation and be cautious. 

READ MORE: There's no need to be afraid of solo travel: 3 countries you can visit on your own

Low cost international travel 

If you have your heart set on adventure further afield, here are some top tips for cheaper travel to exciting destinations, including current flight costs supplied by TravelStart and Computravel. 

Dubai

At R4480 flying return from Johannesburg, Dubai offers travellers many exciting options during their off-peak season. Book accommodation near to a Metro station and buy a Metro card to get around cheaply. Avoid the big malls and rather browse the Indian markets for bargains, and enjoy a variety of inexpensive meals from the downtown street markets.

If you want to see the sights, look for free options and join in group tours to save. 

Rwanda

Kigali offers travellers much in the way of culture, wildlife, art and is even a known culinary hotspot. A return flight costs just R4020, and South African’s don’t even need to apply for a visa first – you can pick it up at the airport after you land.

Most hotels and hostels have a free water dispenser available, so pack a reusable water bottle to save.

Don’t book your whole stay ahead of time, many smaller hostels don’t advertise online so you’ll get a better deal once you’re in the city.

India

A Johannesburg to Mumbai return ticket costs just R5400 return if booked six months in advance. Travel with a friend to share the costs: many restaurants offer portions large enough for two, and room sharing is a safer option.

Just make sure you avoid peak season to get the best prices, and avoid monsoon season to get the best weather. 

Zanzibar

Regular Mango and Fastjet flights mean last minute deals are an option, otherwise a return flight is about R5400.

Book accommodation in the cheaper parts of Stone Town, avoid the more expensive tourist beaches, explore exciting cuisine at the night markets and travel with your own water purifier bottle to save money. 

Italy

A return flight from Johannesburg to Milan can cost as little as R5500 if booked at the right time. That’s not much to enjoy ‘la dolce vita’!

There are fewer tourists out and about between November and March, so this is a good time to visit the Deep South, which boasts pleasant weather all year round, and you’ll be able to enjoy the beaches and still save on accommodation and other tourist-y expenses. 

Enjoy your trip! 

For more travel info and inspiration, visit Traveller24.