Gone are the days where you depended on a travel agent to book your overseas trip, these day a whole lot of us are planning the trips ourselves, thanks to the internet. I’ve only used a travel agent once to book a trip and that was my first trip overseas back in 2009 when I went to Europe, after that every other trip I have booked myself. I know that it can be daunting at first but trust me, it is doable, and there are a numerous resources out there (like this blog, wink wink) that can help you plan an overseas trip of your dreams.
Where to go
First you need to decide on a location and that is a totally personal decision. The choice of location is also dependent on the type of activities that you like, are you looking for a sightseeing, lying on the beach, party, shopping, cultural or active holiday? The choice will also depend on your budget, how much are you willing to spend? I have a number of destinations that are on my bucket list, so I choose my location based on that. It is also common to choose a destination based on an event that is occurring in that city, in March 2018 I was meant to go to Australia because my BFF and I wanted to attend the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival, unfortunately that trip didn’t happen but it’s just an example of how holiday locations can be chosen.
Kayaking in Mauritius
Probably the most important thing to consider when going abroad, how much moola are you willing to part with? Take care to also take into account the little things that might add up like: transport costs within your destination of choice, costs for activities if you’re planning on doing any, etc. If you are travelling as part of a group, it is important to make sure that you all are on the same page when it comes to the rough amount that you have to spend. You don’t want to have someone in your group ballin’ and wanting to go to expensive places when you’re counting your cents. Again, budget is a personal one – my advice would be to preload your holiday spending money onto a separate card that you can use overseas (SA debit cards generally don’t work in other countries, you have to have a credit card or a cheque card), I also advise getting a Visa card, Visa tends to be more accepted than Mastercard. If you’re carrying a preloaded card, you are not likely to overspend (side eyes myself), there is nothing worse than coming back from holiday and having to deal with a massive credit card bill (another side eye at myself).
Eating dinner after dune bashing just outside Dubai
Based on the country that you travel to, you might have to get a visa in South Africa before travelling. Visa costs can be high, so remember to also budget for that. Make sure that you apply for your visa in time so that you’re not anxiously worried about whether you’ll travel or not. Most country consulates have websites where you can see what is required for a visa application and what the process is. If there is no website (side eyes a number of African countries), you’ll have to find their number on the DIRCO website and give them a call. If you live outside Gauteng (where most country consulate are based), ensure that you factor in the time to courier your passport to and from the consulate.
I went on a chocolate factory tour in Switzerland
So you know where you’re going, you’ve got your budget figured out and your visa sorted, now it’s time to book flights. Booking flights can be tricky in the sense that you can’t be sure that you’re getting the cheapest price. Booking early can be detrimental because airlines may have specials closer to you date of departure and you’ll lose out, booking late though can mean that you pay more because all the cheap seats have been taken. When booking flights, I’ve found the best is to check on comparison websites like: Cheapflights, Skyscanner, Travelstart etc. I have found that the Middle Eastern arilines (Qatar, Emirates, Etihad) are cheaper in general – so they’re always my first point of search from which I can compare the other airline prices to. Other important things to consider are layover durations while en route, you really don’t want to spend 10 hours at an airport while waiting for your connecting flight-even if the overall flight price is dirt cheap. As I’ve become a more mature traveller, I’m really against long layover times, I would rather pay for a more expensive flight than spend more than 3 hours at an airport.
Drummers at a wedding I attended in Burundi
Another personal choice based on your budget but accommodation choices are wide in any city. Websites like Booking.com, Tripadvisor.com and even AirBnb are my main sources of looking for accommodation. When travelling I usually stay in hotels, I just prefer it over hostels and backpackers – the last 2 options are cheaper though. I have stayed in a hostel once when I was in Rome, it wasn’t bad at all but it is something I do not prefer. When choosing a hotel, I suggest going for one that has breakfast included in the room fee, it’s always a good idea to fuel up with hotel breakfast before a day out.
All raincoated up before going to view the Victoria Falls
The activities that you do on a trip depend on the type of person you are. I am a total city slicker and I love checking out shops and eating out, I do sometimes add a bit of cultural stuff. On our trip to Thailand, my friend and I wanted to chill in Phuket and shop in Bangkok, so our Phuket days were spent mainly by the pool, we only took one day out on a tour to the Phi Phi Islands. I also suggest that you only book tours once you get to your destination so that you can have some flexibility, there is nothing worse than booking and paying for a full day of activities while in SA and then when you get to your destination you feel like doing something completely different on the day but you are forced to do the activity that you paid for.
You can read more on my international tips by clicking on the destination…
Dakar, Senegal; Goree Island, Senegal; Kampala, Uganda and Bamako,Mali; Lusaka; Dubai; Livingstone in Zambia; Malawi; Evian; Rome; Switzerland; Thailand; Vietnam; Zanzibar; Mauritius; Burundi; Barcelona; India