E and I love, love, love to travel together. We are so passionate about exploring the world, trying new foods, and experiencing other cultures. We make a lot of sacrifices in our ordinary, everyday to keep traveling. Many have asked, “How can you afford to travel so much?” My first thought is -honestly, we don’t travel nearly as much as we would like to, but I am grateful for our big and small trips each year.
However, I want to talk about the affordable piece. The short answer is this: we cut back our spending wherever possible and are always saving in a separate travel account. Cutting back on going out to eat or the occasional Starbucks drink REALLY does save a lot. We also don’t spend on new clothes, subscriptions, or too many things that fall outside of our “absolute needs.” Right now our absolute needs include: apartment rent, utilities, miscellaneous bills (like our phones), gas, monthly student loan debt payments, groceries… you get the point. Whenever we receive gift cards from birthdays or holidays, we try to make those last as long as possible.
Aside from simply cutting back on your spending, here are a few other ways to save up for travel and travel cheaper:
- Buy flights in advance.
- Book Airbnb’s or hostels, not hotels which are almost always overpriced.
- Always pay everything with a credit card so you are able to rack up points and sometimes fly free! We both have Southwest Credit Cards & have ours set to automatically pay in full each month so we don’t get into any debt trouble. Just make sure you know how to do this responsibly. The benefits are great, but if you aren’t good with financial boundaries, I do not recommend this for you.
- List the top 3-5 places you want to travel to next and do your research. Plan them out in advance knowing approximately how much flights, stay, food, and activities are going to cost so you can save accordingly.
- Look for where you could go during the off-season! We traveled to Iceland in March because it’s considered the off-season, so things were cheaper.
Cape Town, South Africa
Why did we choose to travel here? Neither of us had been to South Africa, heard it was beautiful, wanted to go someplace warm, and discovered that the exchange rate was strongly in our favor so we booked our flights six months in advance.
After this vacation, E and I debated for quite some time on whether or not Cape Town was more beautiful than Iceland. Until this trip, Iceland had maintained it’s number one place in our hearts because of the beauty and how we spent our time there (hot springs, hiking, road trip, etc.). However, Cape Town blew us away and we definitely want to go back sometime. We never settled on which one we like more, so we’ll call it a tie. 🙂
The first night we arrived SUPER late in the evening so we slept at a Doubletree hotel not far from the airport. However, throughout our trip we stayed at three different Airbnb’s.
- Here is where we stayed first, a spacious loft in the heart of De Waterkant. (More space than we needed, but really reasonably priced & in the heart of the city)
- This one is where we stayed next, a gorgeous home right on Camps Bay beach. (Unbelievably inexpensive for the location)
- Last, but certainly not least, here is where we stayed to complete our trip. It’s in Stellenbosch, Western Cape. (SO cheap & SO nice)
E booked us a rental car ahead of time, so right when our flight landed we got our car and took off… kind of. They drive on the opposite side of the road AND on the opposite side within the vehicle, so everything is backwards. I chose to let E drive the entire trip in fear that I’d get us into an accident. He did a great job. However, I’m thoroughly surprised they don’t make you pass some sort of driver’s test first. Regardless, you will want a rental car to get around because it’s the cheapest and most convenient option.
V&A Waterfront: It’s a touristy area, but watching the sunset here is beautiful and walking around is relaxing.
Table Mountain: We love a good hike and Table Mountain is full of different paths you can take, from man-made stairs all of the way up to an actual cart that can carry you up so you don’t have to hike, or what we chose to do… the India Venster trail. This is where my mom should stop reading. The India Venster trail was marked “dangerous” and “for experienced hikers,” but E and I thought we were athletic enough that we’d be just fine. Fortunately, we survived. Unfortunately, it was MUCH harder and more dangerous than we ever would’ve thought. We had a few close calls and luckily didn’t read the articles about tons of people dying on that trail specifically until after we were back safe and sound in our Airbnb. Also, if you are going to hike, bring water and make sure it’s not sparkling water. (Yeah, that happened.)
Boulder Beach: The drive there is gorgeous and you get to see PENGUINS! I have to say the penguin scene was a bit underwhelming because you can’t get close to them (there is a fence), so then you’re kind of like, “That’s it?”
Kirstenbosch Gardens: We were so lucky that our friends had recently gone to Cape Town and told us about these gardens and how they do concerts in the park all throughout the summer because it was honestly one of the best parts of our trip! We saw the band “Goldfish” and they were incredible. We brought our own wine & the atmosphere was so rad.
Chapman’s Peak: It’s a drive. You put in that destination and just go. You’ll know you’ve arrived when the views are unreal. You can stop along the way to take tons of pictures, though they won’t do justice to how gorgeous the views really are.
Delaire Graff Estate: This winery will leave you breathless. We ate dinner at the restaurant which was the most expensive meal of our trip. Super yummy, but really all you need to do is go, experience the views and have a glass of their vino.
MONEY IS IN YOUR FAVOR
We used one card to pay for everything the whole trip because that’s how we do things and it really does not matter, whatever your preference is. But you need to know that the exchange rate is really in your favor. $1 USD = 14.3 Rand (their currency) so everything is dirt cheap, at least for us being from the city of Chicago.
Bootlegger Coffee Company: it’s a chain, but we enjoyed it a lot. It’s basically the equivalent of their Starbucks, which we didn’t see a single one of those!
Truth Coffee: Apparently it’s quite famous and we both really enjoyed the food, coffee, and atmosphere.
Nü Health Food Cafe: We grabbed smoothies here after a day at the beach and they were delicious.
Hokey Poke: We got poke bowls from here one night. It’s within the V&A waterfront.
Mustacchio Caffe: I’m realizing that we go to a lot of coffee shops. We enjoyed a really great breakfast here one morning.
I <3 NY pizza: We grabbed a slice of pizza from this chain when were out late one evening and everything was closed, but we were starving and jet-lagged. It was good, but I wouldn’t put this on your “must eat” list.
Cause Effect: A super cool cocktail bar, but I still don’t like Negroni’s.
Origin Coffee Roasters: Go here and order an Iced Hazelnut Latte. It’s aaaamazing. Or E says they have the best pour over in Cape Town.
Beluga: Great sushi and dim sum.
Table Thirteen: A quaint cafe we both enjoyed.
Ground Art Caffe: Do we drink too much coffee?
Chinchilla: We wanted to have cocktails here because they claim to be Cape Town’s hottest rooftop Cafe & Bar. The cocktails and the view were lovely!
Zenzero: Really great seafood in Camps Bay
Tigers Milk: A chain, but we stopped for lunch because they have Oreo Milkshakes!
Orphanage Cocktail Emporium: Get there early enough to get a table outside otherwise the vibe inside is just kinda meh.
Blue Crane and Butterfly: Located in Stellenbosch. We went here for breakfast and it was great. It very much felt like a college town spot.
Deluxe Coffeeworks: I never realized how much coffee we consumed till writing this post.
The Craft: Adorable spot in Stellenbosch where we split a pizza & wine. We got to sit outside and people watch AND it was super cheap so this was definitely a meal I won’t forget.
Java: We had to kill some time before we left for the airport so we stopped here and split a charcuterie board & wine. It was cheap, surprise surprise, and yummy.
THINGS WE WOULD DO DIFFERENTLY
Honestly, not much except for the order we went in. Our trip went in this order: city (De Waterkant), beach (Camps Bay), country (Stellenbosch). If we could do it over again, we would have gone in this order: beach (Camps Bay), city (De Waterkant), country (Stellenbosch) simply because the beach is the best place to chill out when you’re jet lagged. We also would have stayed another night in Stellenbosch.
THINGS WE WILL DO NEXT TIME WE GO BACK
Possibly go shark diving. It’s supposed to be really incredible in South Africa. I’m just nervous because our honeymoon scuba-diving experience which, in case you forgot, is when E threw up under water everywhere and I had a panic attack.
Go on a safari! I went on one the last time I visited Africa (Zambia, specifically) and loved it. We didn’t make time for it this trip, but definitely recommend going if you never have before.
Lastly, we want to stay longer and invite some of our close friends to tag along. It’s a super fun road trip kind of vacation and now that we know what to expect we’d love to go back for longer with people we know will have a good time too.
That’s a wrap! I hope you find this helpful. Leave a comment below if you’ve ever been to South Africa or where your next trip will be!?