Holding out for last-minute deals often leads to missing out on them. “There’s a perception among travellers that they’ll travel more cheaply if they wait for last-minute specials," says Sue Garrett, Flight Centre Travel Group South Africa GM Product and Marketing. "While some may be lucky enough to benefit from waiting, you’ll get the best value by planning ahead and locking in your holidays for 2019 early in the year.”
Garrett highlights that travel suppliers tend to start the year off with value-for-money early bird deals. “In many cases, this is probably the best price you’re going to get for your holiday if you have a good idea of when you’re looking to travel.”
There’s also a tendency for South Africans to take shorter, more frequent holidays during the year, than the one annual holiday in December. “We see an increasing trend towards local mini-breaks over long weekends throughout the year,” says Garrett. "As life becomes more stressful, it simply isn’t possible to wait an entire year to kick back and relax.
“It’s never been easier or more affordable for South Africans to travel as the world becomes more accessible to us through improved airlift, improved visa regimes and travel technology. That said, the tried-and-tested destinations like Mauritius, Zanzibar and Thailand will continue to be firm favourites, with the Middle East, Italy and Sri Lanka also gaining in popularity."
Here are some tips from the travel experts to make 2019 travel a reality:
It’s all about timing
Have you plotted all the possible long weekend combinations in 2019? Take the 2nd and 3rd of May off, and you’ll have five days to spend somewhere fabulous. Start planning your schedule now and check with a professional travel advisor which destinations and experiences are best at that time of year. They’ll also be able to share if there are any early-bird deals available. Planning ahead could be the difference between you and an armchair-holiday filled with #fomo.
Gets your ducks in a row
Travelling with a minor? You’re going to need to have an Unabridged Birth Certificate on hand. Also, don’t forget to check the validity of your passport to ensure it has more than six months’ validity and that you have more than two blank pages in your passport. A handy tip from Garrett is to ensure that you’ve scanned all your documentation and uploaded it to the cloud or sent it to an email account you can access online.
Check with your travel advisor if you need a visa, if there are any additional expenses like departure taxes and vaccinations you need to be aware of. Always make sure you have travel insurance and take great care to safeguard, not only yourself but your bank account and online identity.
Compile a checklist
In anticipation of your holiday, start making a shared list with your travel companions and family. You can use collaborative tools like Google Docs or AirTable to create lists that anyone can access and add to as you think of things – what to pack, what needs to get done before you go, who’s going to water your plants while you’re away, etc. For groups travelling, it also makes sense to set up a WhatsApp group to coordinate travel plans, questions and comments. Developing a check-list over time ensures you’ve ticked all the boxes and can step out of the door with peace of mind that you haven’t forgotten a thing.