Tip 0356 Join other groups
Like our Tip 0194 Getting others to go on excursions, if you don't mind joining in or being sociable then we thoroughly recommend joining other groups, couples, families or even singles. This has many benefits also.
Often excursions are cheaper the more that go and we also talk about this within the website but just sharing a driver can save you as much as 50% of the cost of a days outing.
Discussing your activities a day or so before you want to go over the dinner table or in the bar the night before, will alert you and others to events happening and costs.
Negotiating with drivers on a discount if more people can come is a good way to strike a bargain price.
Look at hiring a driver for a day, rather than just for the activity you want to do is a good plan also and many drivers will know the real costs for entry fees and the like, where you can save yourselves a bundle also.
Tip 0341 Pick up a handbook
I really battled to not get a travel handbook for so many years and the reason being was that I really didn't want to go where everyone else goes!
I can't think of anything worse than being on a conveyor belt whilst travelling.
Obviously I would research destinations prior to travelling but I really love finding the unusual and feeling a little like an exploring traveller rather than a tourist.
But! I have to say, having been given a guide book on my travels, I have been converted.
A main reason is for orientation. There is nothing better than on arrival, knowing exactly which direction you are coming in from and hitting the ground knowing which direction you need to head on to.
Coming into a destination by air, sea, rail or road can be a little disorientating to say the least and having a sense of where you are geographically has many benefits.
You can prepare for many things, like how far your accommodation is from the station. Which direction you need to heading in and are you being taken for a ride so to speak.
Another advantage of a travel hand book especially if you are not pre booking any accommodation, is that it will give you an initial reference to local places to stay just to get you over the first night of entry.
You may be arriving late afternoon or evening making it a rush to find somewhere suitable. This all takes much stress out of impromptu travel and make for a more relaxing journey all round.
Of course there is a lot more information available in these guide books, even if this means you can work out the places and times to avoid the crowds.
Tip 0342 Key visiting areas
You will no doubt have your bucket list of countries to travel to but don't forget the key areas of interest also.
Many run out of time and think they will just go next time but the harsh reality is, the chances are you may not ever return. No matter how wonderful you find the place.
If you are a serious traveller that wants it all, then you probably have more chance than most, but the simple fact is, you can't see it all.
Make the most of the time you have.
Tip 0343 Be flexible with your Itinerary
Try not to be monotone in your thinking, there is more than one way to skin a cat.
Think outside the box when you are stuck or heading in the (wrong) direction. You may think that things could be going wrong only to find you are in a better position than if you had carried on blindly.
An inflexible fixed itinerary can be very hard to stick to and you could be missing out on many wonderful things.
We could write a book on the problems of inflexibility whilst travelling but our main tip here is "be prepared to change and allow a little extra time" for unforeseen circumstances.
Always think about options rather than staying put or carrying on the same path or route. A classic example of this is, waiting until the floods to the east have subsided, rather than head west and get to east later.
Planning parts of your travel in a clockwise fashion makes it easy to change direction should problems arise.
Tip 0360 Keep informed on the go
With tip 0359 Change of plans in mind, we always recommend you keep abreast of things whilst travelling.
Yes by all means relax, wind down, take yourselves away from the world back home, but also be aware of your circumstances.
Many people set off on their travels and shut off from the outside world and this is great if you are in one location, short term traveller or on a cruise ship but if you are travelling around and especially for long periods of time, always keep a check on what's happening in the world and around you or where you are heading.
Weather of course is a main concern but world events are a consideration too. There could be any number of things going on that change at a moment's notice and you can get caught out here.
An example of this is your flight could be delayed or cancelled.
A simple way to keep informed is to liaise with your impending en route accommodation service agent.
Our best tip and one we always do, is to strike up a relationship with the places you intend to visit by email. You get up to date information, a rapport prior to your visit and a better relationship whilst visiting.
Tip 0344 Make up a group
By this we mean it is more cost effective to get a group together for an excursion.
The more people that go the more you generally save.
As a single traveller, this is very helpful in keeping costs to a minimum. If you can tag along with others, or make up a group from fellow travellers you have met along the way.
Some tours or excursions will not cater for individuals because of the cost involved. So this is where networking comes into its own.
If there is a particular activity you would like to do or go on, ask around and drum up others to join you. You are basically becoming a sales rep for the company and can often get a really good deal for yourselves.
Tip 0345 Call on the experts
Like our previous tips on calling on the experts, we mention this again as many people think that if they go to a travel agent, they are obligated to buy.
This is definitely not the case and what's more, most agents are more than happy to share their knowledge in the hope that you may return at some point for a sale.
The key here is to be upfront and honest about what you are trying to find out about.
Tip 0346 Pick an agent that has actually been there.
Our top tip here is to ask the agent if any of its representatives have actually been to the area or even to the accommodation you are looking at.
Pop into a few travel agents and ask around, there will be someone who has been there or nearby.
If it is the representatives day off, go back another time or even make an appointment. You are far better speaking to the right person in the first place.
You are really looking for someone that has been there recently and not two or three years ago. Places change and management changes also.
Tip 0347 Allow extra days
Now this refers mainly to travellers that might be travelling for longer periods of time but can also work in most cases by keeping a few hours spare in your days.
Cramming too much into your travels or even your day can lead to disappointment.
Anything can happen whilst travelling, from heavy going, tiredness or illness, to weather holdups, traffic jams, unexpected delays and a whole list of other "what happens if."
So always allow spare time in your itinerary. You can always cram more in if all goes well.
Tip 0348 Ask the locals
We can't stress enough how much more you get from travelling when you are more social. Asking the locals will get you so much further, more knowledge and sometimes lifelong friendships.
Most people are proud of where they come from and are pleased to offer good advice for your immediate travels.
A great example of this being when I was in Cape Town and planning on hiring a car to drive from Cape Town along the Garden Route to Port Elizabeth.
I was recommended by a local to use the "Baz Bus" instead of driving myself. He brought to my attention that I would see more of the scenery rather than be concentrating on the road all the time.
It was a far more affordable option and I got to meet like minded travellers on the bus and swapped stories as I went along.
Now this may seem a minor piece of advice to some but it made my next week or two a whole lot more enjoyable and was something that not many travellers were aware of and certainly no agents back home knew about this mode of transport.
Tip 0349 Best time to visit Victoria Falls
Victoria Falls is enjoyable all year round with so much to do and see all within a short area but... think about what you want to see when you go to the Falls.
Like many places around the world and waterfalls in particular, the flow rate changes according to weather and seasons.
Do you want to see the Falls in full force? You may be disappointed that the spray/mist that is formed from the full force of the flow may prevent you from seeing the Falls in its entirety.
Similarly going to the Falls at low flow season will give you a whole different perspective of the power of these magnificent Falls and will be little more than a drizzle in some parts of this epic landscape.
Personally and after speaking to the locals I would look at coming in the middle of high and low flow. This tied in with jumping the Devils Pool, as you can't jump when the flow is too powerful as it is closed due to danger. The mist of the water is such at this time that you can still see all of the Falls at close range and get a better feel of the scale of the rock face.
There is good and bad to both but remember, it is what you want out of your visit and should be planned and researched to make sure you are not disappointed.
Tip 0350 Special deals
There are many so called special deals around nowadays and you should always be careful on what might be a deal or not.
Deals on accommodation through your airline or frequent flyer program will pay dividends if you look closely.
Out of season deals are common and should be researched. If you have time, check the prices in peak season as well, some low season deals may not be as good as you think.
A great investment whilst travelling is the sim card.
Negotiating a price online is often better than going straight to the reception of the hotel/accommodation of your choice.
If you have no personal equipment to receive internet connection, have a coffee at the local internet cafe and explore the web there, this will save you bundles in the long run.
We have given up on discussing with reception why prices are cheaper online than direct with them, especially out of season. Mostly it is because the daily management don't have the authority to reduce their half empty properties.
Tip 0351 Benefits of low/off season
There are so many benefits to travelling off or low season and you may like to seriously think about this timing when travelling.
If you just can't get away at this time then there is not much you can do about it but if you can there are many advantages.
First of all you can travel further and longer for your money. Off season doesn't necessarily mean that you are missing out on anything, in fact you probably see and experience more.
Less crowds, great photos without anyone in the way, cheaper everything, more time, better service. quieter bathing areas, no queuing, better rooms, upgrades to many things, including flights, seats and hotels. More relaxing, slower pace and generally more pleasant travel experience.
Do however make sure that where you are going isn't all closed down due to renovations or just no clientele. Many places completely shut down or lacking in service out of season. This will be all down to your research and planning.
Tip 0352 Limiting your travel
There are ways you can accidentally limit your travel.
For example if you book all of your internal flights pre travel.
By all means get your return flights to and from home and connecting flights too but if you book all your internal flights pre travel, you limit yourselves to that time table giving you no flexibility and you will always be clock watching.
Connecting flights are a tricky one also. If you can try and get same airline flights all the way through, the airline has a responsibility for the whole journey. Think about this when you see slightly cheaper flights by breaking up your travels.
In general the more you pre-book the more limited you are. This includes excursions and accommodation as well. You may make a small saving in the short term but this may affect your whole travel time or experience.
Tip 0353 Booking accommodation through airline
A great tip here is always check with your airline for deals on accommodation. When you book your flights with a particular airline they often have one off special deals on hotels within their websites. These can have tremendous savings and will most definitely be cheaper than just turning up at a hotel reception to get a good rate on a room.
For the cost of AUD $45.00/night including breakfast, I managed to pre-book a 5 star hotel right in the centre of town, close to everything. Normal cost was $255/night, a saving of $210/night. Yes you might not normally go to a more expensive hotel in the first place but you would be hard pressed to get anything at $45/night.
We also mention within this website that booking accommodation online is often cheaper than walking in off the street to the reception. If you have no previous booking with a hotel you are about to check in to, always check out the price online outside first.
This is another reason for having internet connection with you whilst travelling. The cost of a local sim card is a fraction of the cost of full price accommodation. Or even if you have to get a coffee at the local internet cafe, this will save you bundles in the long run.
We talk about this tip within the website a lot.
Tip 0354 Get the Baz Bus
This is more a localised tip but bare this in mind wherever you are in the world.
As you travel the world you will find little snippets of valuable information from the locals, that will not be known about back home, by your travel agent or even in travel books.
As in tip 0348 Ask the locals, quite literally socialise! You will find out loads and learn a lot from the locals.
A great example here, I was planning on self driving the Garden Route in South Africa. One of the most scenic ocean routes in the country, I never even considered taking a tour coach or other mode of transport, as of the limitations or cost implications there might be.
On speaking to a local friend I met in Cape Town, he mentioned why not take the "Baz Bus." This is a hop-on hop-off, door-to-door bus service between Cape Town and Johannesburg, with stops all along the coast, operating in both directions. They can pick-up and drop-off at the door of your accommodation (140 backpacking hostels on their list) in 40 different towns in South Africa. You then just need to choose where to stop and organise your trip exactly like you want.
This had so much flexibility that I could hardly refuse this option. the benefits were numerous. Cheaper than a hire vehicle, no fuel to pay, no worries about parking, no fears of driving in a foreign country or area, stopping door to door and where I wanted to travel to. Travelling with like minded travellers, meeting new people, obtaining even more valuable travel tips on where I was heading, being able to have a few drinks the list is endless.
The main advantage was that I could view this awesome scenery the whole journey, instead of concentrating on the road ahead and missing exactly the reason I was travelling along this particular route.
Tip 0355 Flexibility to your travel
We talk a lot about this on the website.
Be flexible, allow to adapt on the go and sometimes go with the flow. If you are fixed and on a mission you will almost definitely miss a few great opportunities. This is where tip 0347 Allow extra days/hours come in handy.
Try not to cram too many bucket list items into your current travels. Be realistic and set space between them.
For example, so many travellers think they have to get to every town on the route, to say they have been there and because of this they don't have time to explore the very towns and locality they have just been through.
We have seen many so called travellers running through the walks to get to every waterfall, stopping for a minute to catch their breath and then running onto the next, without even savouring the moment or exploring the beautiful rock pools a few metres further on.
How many times have you been somewhere only to find when you got back home fellow travellers have said to you did you find or do this or that whilst you were there!
Flexibility gives you that extra time to explore more and find some hidden treasures just around the corner.
Tip 0357 Take a body harness for your camera
Many places will not let you take your personal cameras for varying reasons. Obviously safety is the main concern but many want you to purchase their photos and videos of the event.
We may not like it but this does keep the cost of the activities down. Merchandising is how many companies survive.
It is a good tip to enquire into whether or not you can use your own camera prior to bookings and purchase a body harness for your camera.
Many places are just concerned in safety and having a harness will get you some of the best shots.
Tip 0358 Take long pants, sleeved clothes and a hat/beanies
This tip is more for trekking, safari and bush walking but comes in handy for severe weather conditions, early morning starts or late evening happenings.
Hats will protect you from the sun, cold and low overhanging areas.
Long pants and sleeved tops will keep your body cooler in the heat, warmer in the cold and protect you from the bush, bracken and hanging vines.
It also protects you from insects, snakes, leeches and the like.
Tip 0359 Change of plans
We talk a lot about changing your plans on the go within this website and you really must allow flexibility into your schedules.
If unexpected things happen on your travels be prepared to change your plans. There are always positives to a negative.
Try to factor in a few "what ifs" into your itinerary, that allow you to maybe go in another direction should the worst happen or even the best happen.
If you are set on a fixed plan and something happens, you could end up disappointed.
Very rarely does everything go to plan, especially on a lengthy travel experience.