Travelling on a Budget in South Africa

The Art of Thriftiness Travel

The summer solstice is upon us, ushering in warm winds and the allure of an endless summer at our favourite beach resort or bush getaway. The heat and humidity beckon for refreshment, and what better way to cool down than with an ice-cold mocktini, served James Bond style—shaken, not stirred?

The ocean's gentle ebb and flow lulls us into a state of tranquilly, a daydream that often occupies our thoughts as December approaches here in Africa. While the African sun can be relentless, we South Africans wouldn't have it any other way. We are fortunate to have a wealth of diverse destinations that offer relaxation and adventure with just the mere thought of them.

Our nation's rich cultural diversity exemplifies the values of inclusivity and unity, and our offered destinations boast some of the most breathtaking scenery in the world. From vibrant festivals celebrating various cultural traditions to the mouthwatering array of culinary delights, South Africa offers an immersive experience that will always leave us in awe. And let's not forget the breathtaking landscapes, where majestic mountains and stunning coastlines coexist in perfect harmony. It's always been a destination that promises to captivate our senses and leave us longing for more.

For those who know South Africa well, its beauty and unique experiences are unmatched. Our people offer an unparalleled experience, and the captivating blend of diverse cultures only adds to the country's allure. When we take a step back and consider South Africa as a whole, we have accomplished great strides, and our array of destinations and unforgettable holidays remains unrivalled. Every rand spent within South Africa is an investment in our economy. Exploring our own cities and provinces creates job opportunities, and supporting small, locally owned businesses not only grows the local economy but brings smiles to the faces of those working behind the scenes who truly appreciate our patronage.

In the spirit of being thrifty in your travels, Wonga is here to share a guide on how to make the most of your South African adventures while keeping your wallet happy.


Here is a list of tips to consider when travelling on a budget! These can be used anywhere!


Some of the best ways to experience South Africa on a Budget:


Plan and research in advance

Start by setting a budget for your trip and researching destinations that fit within your means. Look for affordable accommodation options, cheap flights or alternative modes of transportation, and cost-effective activities.


Travel during the off-peak season

Prices for flights, accommodations, and attractions are generally lower during the off-peak season. Consider traveling during shoulder seasons or less popular times to take advantage of lower rates.


Be flexible with your travel dates

Check different dates when searching for flights and accommodations. Sometimes shifting your travel dates by a few days can make a significant difference in prices.


Consider accommodation alternatives

Consider alternatives to standard hotels, such as hostels, guesthouses, or vacation rentals. Websites like Airbnb, Hostelworld, and Couchsurfing can help you find low-cost lodging. Camping is an excellent option to

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Cook your own meals

Eating out can quickly add up, so consider staying in accommodations with kitchen facilities to prepare your meals. Visit local grocery stores or markets to buy fresh produce and ingredients, which is often cheaper than eating at restaurants.

Learn more here: 10 Best Tips for Cooking While Travelling


Free and low-cost activities

South Africa boasts numerous free and low-cost attractions. Spend your days exploring national parks, hiking trails, and beaches, all of which offer stunning scenery and opportunities to spot wildlife. Many museums and cultural sites have discounted admission for students and seniors, and some offer free entry on certain days.


Safari on a Budget

Experiencing South Africa's wildlife doesn't have to break the bank. Instead of an expensive luxury safari, opt for a self-drive safari in one of the country's many national parks. Kruger National Park, Addo Elephant National Park, and Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park are all great options for budget-friendly wildlife encounters. Bring your own camping gear or rent it for an affordable outdoor experience.

Learm more here: South African National Parks - SANParks - Official Website - Accommodation, Activities, Prices, Reservations


Shopping for Bargains

Bargain hunters will delight in the unique handcrafted items, textiles, and jewellery available at markets like Greenmarket Square in Cape Town, Rosebank Market in Johannesburg, and Victoria Street Market in Durban. Remember to try your best on haggling for the best prices.


Volunteer and Cultural Exchange Programmes

Consider participating in volunteer programmes or cultural exchange initiatives that allow you to experience South Africa while giving back to the local community. These programmes often provide accommodation and meals in exchange for your time and effort.

Learn more here: Student exchange programs in South Africa | EF Education First


Take advantage of free activities and attractions

Research and explore free attractions, museums with discounted or free entry days, walking tours, or local events happening during your visit. Many destinations have parks, landmarks, and scenic areas that are free to visit.


Use public transportation or walk

Public transportation, such as buses or trains, is generally cheaper than taxis or rental cars. Utilise local transportation systems to get around and save money. Additionally, walking or cycling within a city can be an economical and healthy option.


Pack wisely

Avoid overpacking and consider packing light to avoid extra baggage fees. Pack essentials, versatile clothing items, and necessary travel accessories. Don't forget to bring a reusable water bottle to save on buying bottled water.


Look for deals and discounts

Keep an eye out for travel deals, discounted attractions, or coupon sites that offer savings on accommodations, activities, or meals. Subscribe to travel newsletters or follow travel websites and social media accounts to stay informed about current promotions.


Connect with locals and fellow travellers

Locals can provide valuable insights on budget-friendly options, hidden gems, and affordable places to eat. Connecting with other travellers can help you share costs on transportation or accommodations.


Learn more about experiencing South Africa on a Budget:

The art of budget travel revolves largely around being resourceful and willing to immerse ourselves in change and doing things seemingly differently with an open mindset.


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