November 12, 2017

How to make your travel rand go further

By Rebekah Funk

We live in a time when an overnight change of finance minsters can reduce a dream overseas holiday to a no-frills alternative. While there’s little you can do to control the rand’s slide against the dollar (yes, it’s sliding…again – R14.40/US$1 at last count), foreign exchange experts say there are a few ways to ensure you get the best bang for your buck when abroad.

Avoid using credit cards

The first, according to Andrew McDonic, Chief Executive Officer of Financial Services at Tourism Investment Corporation Limited, is not to use your credit card unless you really have to. “The exchange rate [fluctuation] and commission charged on credit cards can amount to between 6-10% of the value charged,” he explains.

Also, foreign exchange rates can make significant gains or losses in a single day and travellers have no control over what rates they’re buying at when using a credit card. “Most travellers don’t know this,” explains McDonic, “and even when they receive their credit card statement it is virtually impossible to know what the exchange rate was on the transaction day in question.”

Go for prepaid and cash mix

Using a mix of cash and a prepaid currency card is a far better option, McDonic suggests. “Both cash and prepaid cards are sold by the foreign exchange bureaus and banks at a total margin of around 2.5% — way less than the rates on credit cards. And the pricing and commission charges are far more transparent at the time of the transaction.

Prepaid currency cards can be used much like a debit card to draw money at ATMs (with a minimal transaction fee), or used like a credit card to pay for restaurant meals and goods in shops. Since currency rates are locked in on the day of purchase and there are no point-of-sale transaction fees, you can avoid hefty exchange fees.

Travelex regional manager Jacqueline Nosworthy agrees that prepaid currency cards are the best bet for extending your travel budget as the value of the rand drops. It’s also the most convenient and safest option, she believes. MasterCard’s Cash Passport, for instance, allows travellers to load more than one currency and is not linked to a bank account. Protected by chip and pin, the currency card is valid for up to five years and can be reloaded more than once, Nosworthy explains.

As an added bonus, Nosworthy says prepaid cards help travellers stick to budgets as amounts loaded are fixed, and you can’t dip into your credit card or overdraft facilities via the prepaid card.

Do your research

Look into how much foreign currency you’ll need for accommodation, activities, meals, transport and souvenirs, advises Nosworthy. “Then calculate the amount of foreign exchange you are going to require and purchase it all at once to avoid being charged for more than one transaction.”

Research can also save you buying too much currency, which can be costly because there’s a transaction fee to convert foreign buck back to rands. And you might lose on the conversion if the rand’s got stronger. Here’s hoping...

3 reasons why prepaid beats traditional debit cards

1. Savings of up to 10% in exchange rate fluctuations and transaction fees when you use a prepaid currency card versus a debit card.

2. You aren’t able to go into overdraft on a prepaid card.

3. If your prepaid card is lost or stolen, thieves won’t be able to gain access to your bank account as the two are not linked.

Need more expert travel advice? Contact your nearest Sure Travel consultant today, or call 0861 47 48 49.

November 6, 2017

Kick-start your 2018 travels with 30% off your Contiki trip

Looking to escape to a cosy continent where you can boat through the canals of Venice, see Paris from the Eiffel Tower, wander through the Swiss Alps, and party in Amsterdam? All in just over a week? Contiki's nine-day European Magic trip will take you from Amsterdam's quaint bicycle-laden streets to Italy's palazzo and Paris's cool little cafés in just over a week – all from just R14,500*.

But if siestas, sangria, sun, sand and Ibiza's sounds are more your style, deep dive into Barcelona, Seville, Madrid and, of course, Ibiza over two weeks with Contiki's Spanish Spree from R17,074*.

Ireland, the Contiki way

Or get a taste of la dolce vita with 12 days coasting from the Colosseum, café hopping in Capri, waltzing through Milan, and soaking up the quaint towns in the Italian Riviera. Plus, you'll be able to save up to R5,300 on your Simply Italy trip*. This trip will have you eating, sleeping, and exploring like a local with more indulgent lie-ins, afternoon Spritz breaks, and experiences to get you to the core of Italy's culture.

Tapas, because... Spain.

How can you bag one of these super-discounted escapades? For this month only, you can save up to 30% on selected Contiki trips to Europe if you book and pay in full before 30 November*.

The world's leading youth travel (18 to 35 year-old) company is offering you big savings on trips to France, Spain, Italy, Ireland and Great Britain, with unique accommodation, comfy transport, tons of meals, travel experiences and a trip manager and driver duo. It's all included, so you can have a hassle-free holiday.

Melt festival in Germany – who's in?

Not quite ready to book and pay for your Contiki holiday this month? Don't despair. You can still save 10% if you book your Europe Summer 2018 trip before 29 January 2018, so you have a few months to plan your budget and save for your epic adventure.

BOOK IT NOW: Contact your nearest Sure Travel consultant and ask them about Contiki’s last minute discount promotion for November; or Contiki's 10% early booking discount for the New & Improved Summer Trips. Or call 0861 47 48 49 to speak to a consultant now. 

*Terms and conditions apply (ask your Sure Travel consultant for details).

7 good reasons to climb 7 African mountains in 7 weeks

A team of mountaineers, environmentalist and journalists have begun the world-first 7 Summits Africa Challenge, presented by Great Migration Camps, in which they will attempt to summit 7 African mountains in 7 weeks.

They're doing it to showcase East Africa's eco-tourism offering, and to raise awareness of a cause affecting the people, wildlife and environment around each mountain. 

But what motivates a team of people to dedicate 7 weeks of their lives (and several hundred blisters) to climb 7 mountains back to back?

Seven members of the team share what’s driving them up those mountains:

Sibusiso Vilane

South African adventurer and motivational speaker, author of the book ‘To the Top from Nowhere’ and one of a handful of African members of ‘The 7 Summits Club’ – the elite mountaineers who have climbed the highest peaks on each of the continents. 

“On a personal level, it means so much for me as a proud African to be able to explore and promote parts of my continent. We have a continent that is rich in nature, wildlife and people. It is our duty and responsibility to experience and tell the world about our African pride and heritage.”

Carel Verhoef

7 Summits Africa concept creator & director of title sponsor Great Migration Camps: 

“I’m a strong advocate of conservation through tourism, which is why I want to showcase East Africa to the world through the 7 Summits Africa Challenge. The further you go into Africa the fewer tourist numbers there are, and the interior parts (rainforest areas) of the continent are the hardest and most expensive parks to look after. Unless we bring tourists to these areas and create a reason for the people around these parks and reserves to protect the biodiversity and habitat, in 20 years time we will have lost a huge part of our rainforest parks and reserves.”

This is the overarching reason why we came up with the 7 Summits Africa Challenge – to showcase these parts of Africa to the world and, hopefully, encourage others to follow in our footsteps. Conservation through tourism is the only way to go.”

Gabriele Brown

East African Destination Specialist and 8-time Kilimanjaro veteran.

"In 2012 I summited Mt. Kilimanjaro for the first time to leave my late husband’s ashes on top of Uhuru Peak. Since that time Kili holds a very special place in my heart. Kilimanjaro is a place of adventure, of freedom, of strength and of beauty – a place where everything is removed and one comes to know oneself without any masks of pretences. It’s a real opportunity to evaluate one’s character and resilience.

But during my first Kili climb, I saw first-hand what the porters go through to get people like me up the mountain, to give us these life-changing experiences. It’s not easy and they’re hugely underappreciated. So my cause is an obvious one: assisting the porters on Kilimanjaro (via cause partner Kilimanjaro Porters Assistance Project – KPAP).”

Jessica Flint

New York based editor and writer, who will be co-authoring a book about the #7SummitsAfrica Challenge with Patrick Thomas.

“As a journalist, I am drawn to great stories. I couldn't pass up the opportunity to chronicle this world-first expedition that aims to good in Africa by highlighting the continent's under-promoted adventure tourism opportunities while promoting various Africa-centric conservation efforts, including saving the black rhino and the mountain gorillas.”

Ake Lindstrom

East Africa’s most experienced mountaineer and high altitude adventure addict.

“For me the most poignant moment of this trip (so far) was at home, as I held my 7-month-old son. In 20 years time will I be able to show him gorillas in the DRC? It is only through the massive efforts of organisations in each region and tourism and governments in multiple countries that a species such as the gorilla has any hope of survival.

And so why am I doing this? Because it is an adventure. Because I believe our network of friends and family will love this adventure and will share the message. Because our partners are the stakeholders in the region believe tourism can answer many problems and are committed to building a positive future. And, finally, because I want my son to see what I have seen in 20 years time.”

Patrick Thomas

US-based editor and writer, who will be co-authoring a book about the #7SummitsAfrica Challenge with Jessica Flint.

"I'm fascinated and encouraged by the potential for how ecotourism in general and mountaineering specifically can help save wild places, strengthen local communities create world-class adventure travel opportunities. And to be completely honest, I love adventure and traveling to places sure to surprise and delight me."

Sally Grierson

Hiker and lover of mountains – retired physiotherapist. Part of the team that successfully summited Kilimanjaro with the first female quadriplegic, Chaeli Mycroft.

“I have grown more enthralled and enamoured by the magnificence and wildness of Africa, particularly my current home in East Africa. On the flip side, it becomes more obvious every day what a precarious position these amazing places find themselves in.

It may be naive and perhaps we are foolish, but I do believe we can create awareness of an incredible adventure that will bring visitors to this corner of the globe. And they, in turn, will bring much needed revenue to the communities, parks, habitats and species.”