This is a continuation of a series on how to holiday in Kenya and around the world for cheap. Read part 1 of the series.
1. Holiday with a partner or in a group: Accommodation and sometimes food is much cheaper when you are two. Instead of traveling alone, do it with a friend, lover, a travel partner or a relative. If you are the kind to vacation with several friends, why not plan together and share the costs? Most hotels give great group deals for bookings of over 5 rooms.
In most hotels, the cost of a double (or twin room) is about 25% more than the cost of a single room. Also when traveling as a pair or in a group, a self catering arrangement ends up being cheaper for everyone on average. 2 weeks back, I holidayed with my family and a friend, and we ended up spending a total of Kshs 38,000 in total (excluding accommodation which was at another friend’s home). This was an average of Kshs 12,000 per person for 5 days of holiday. We drove, so this cost included fuel for my car which isn’t the most economical car, and we had my 2 year old daughter (holiday with a child is a bit more expensive than an adult).
2. Knock the notion that “holiday = hotel” out of your head: If you truly want to holiday for cheap, look for alternatives to hotel accommodation, especially for popular and often expensive destinations. I have found that in Mombasa for example, self catering is much cheaper than a hotel all things considered. Self catering gives you the flexibility to choose what to eat and when to eat it, and the quality of said food. Cooking during the holidays may not be ideal for those who don’t like to cook, but thankfully most self catering outfits have chefs you can hire at a small fee. If you are not traveling alone, this works out cheaper for you.
Where self catering is not an option, look for alternative accommodation on airbnb, sign up as a member of couch surfers etc, and you will be surprised at how cheap alternative accommodation is. When traveling with a family, its a no brainer that an apartment would be cheaper and more convenient than booking hotel rooms, unless you are able to get a great deal.
3. Watch your food bills: As much as possible, avoid eating at the hotel (if you are staying in one) and in hotel restaurants. Seek out the popular eateries, most have fresher, better quality food than the hotels and cost less. Anyone who likes to travel will tell you that often, eating from local, popular eateries is a much better experience than going for the boring hotel buffet set up. Most standard hotels will offer an international cuisine (read, boring food), tailored to suit a range of nationalities, which means they may not be excellent at any one particular dish. This universality of course comes at a price. For example, last month when we were in Diani, we wanted to have lunch at one of the beach hotels. We were told that it would cost us Kshs 3,000 per person. Well, we ended up at Annielo’s (a local pizzeria) for his fantastic pizza, which goes for 700 bob, and it is heavenly.
It is even better if the place you are holidaying in has a street food culture. When we were preparing for the Bangkok trip, all blogs were advising that the best place to eat in Bangkok is on the street. It sounded a bit dubious, but on arriving there, it was easy to tell why. For Kshs 60, you could buy the most succulent fruit cuts, and at meal times, the streets opened up into the most amazing restaurants, with tasty, fresh local food, at a fraction of the cost of the hotel food. On the final day we decided to eat hotel breakfast, and true to form, it was an array of the usual (bacon, sausages, bread, ceral etc), all good, but not an experience you remember for years to come.
4. Whenever possible, avoid using cabs: If it is unsafe or when you first arrive at a destination, it may be helpful to use a cab as you familiarize yourself with the area. Otherwise, move around using public transport, or even walk if the distance is less than 5km. It is cheaper, and quite the experience. I see foreigners do this in Nairobi all the time, maybe we should embrace walking even while at home!
5. Finally, don’t shop (this is especially for ladies)! If you are holidaying in a shopping destination, please avoid shopping. I say this from experience. If you must shop, prepare a list of what you need (while still at home), and stick to that list when you get to your destination. When you’re holiday is in a shopping destination, it is easy to get carried away by the cheap things leading you to break the bank, only to get home and regret the extra tee shirts, winter tights, boots etc . If you make every holiday a shopping holiday, you will not be able to travel much. Instead resolve to buy one good quality souvenir from every destination you visit.
I am launching a newsletter that will contain content that is not on the blog, please sign up by clicking on this link. The first edition will contain a detailed example of a super frugal holiday I planned recently.