Do you usually come back from vacation and get a rude shock when you see the shape of your finances? Probably you also tell yourself you are never taking a vacation again!

Worst-case scenario, you have never been on vacation in your life because each time you check out those travel brochures, the dollar figures next to those beautiful destinations seem like a bad dream becoming real?

Then these 6 money crunching ideas may turn out to be very useful to you.

Sign-up for Reward Programmes

Most hotels in Kenya now run a reward program of some kind. Check with the various hotels to see how you can join and what benefits they offer and then make a decision if it is a deal or not. Sarova Hotels, for instance, have a reward programme called Sarova Zawadi which costs you only KES 6,000.00 to join.

As soon as you get on board you enjoy 25% off on a minimum of 2 nights for 2 people, 50% off on their Tulia Spa and a complimentary gym voucher during your stay.

Ole Sereni also has a similar programme they call the Gourmet Club where members pay KES 17,400 (VAT inclusive) per year to enjoy a host of benefits including a 50% discount on the total food bill when 2 persons dine, 33% discount on the total food bill when 3 persons dine, 25% discount on the total food bill when 4 persons dine, 20% discount on the total food bill when 5-12 persons dine.

Check Out Seasonal Offers and Specials

Hotels, lodges, camps, restaurants and travel agencies regularly announce and post their special offers on their websites. Keep visiting these sites to get the latest deals and discounts on offer.

Better still, if they have an e-newsletter, you could subscribe and never miss a deal again in your life. Keeping tabs on such deals you may someday stumble upon a great seasonal offer that will save you quite a tidy sum of money.

Participate in Competitions

Another great way to save on your holiday costs is participating in industry competitions. Competitions may range from simple travel trivia that offer free dinner for the first correct answer to photo submission competitions where the best photo could win a fully paid holiday to your dream destination.

Again paying a regular visit to websites and social media pages of companies that run such promotions is a habit you should develop if you want to be a cost saver. For instance, I just came across an amazing opportunity to win a getaway to the new Tanda Tula Field Camp in Timbavati, which I haven’t the slightest idea where that is, on the Africa Geographic website and the only requirement is a simple subscription to their newsletter!

Apply a MinMax Strategy

In game theory, it is possible to minimise the possible loss for a worst-case (maximum loss) scenario. MinMax or MM is an age-old decision-making strategy that, in its simplest form, involves choosing the strategy that most benefits the least advantaged member of a group – in this case, you.

Whenever, for instance, you book a room in a hotel, do it on bed and breakfast (BB) because food always tends to be more expensive in hotels. By booking on BB, you give yourself the flexibility to try larger, more diverse and cheaper options while exploring the surroundings outside your hotel.

Contrary to established stereotypes, a majority of cheaper eating places around most good hotels offer great food with very high standards of hygiene. I have been there, done that.

On the same breath, try to minimise your usage of cabs and taxis, especially for shorter distances you can manage by walking or using public transport. By all means, exercise logic and common sense to arrive at this decision. There are of course dodgy neighbourhoods I would never even entertain the very thought of taking chances in! so be wise as well.

Plan in Advance

This sounds like an obvious thing but you will be surprised at the majority of travellers who do not plan sufficiently or do not plan at all! Planning your trip well in advance gives you the benefit of negotiating good deals and also exploring several alternatives for everything – your mode of transport, game drive, accommodation, eating places, scenic sites and even your nearby convenient shop or supermarket for your supplies such as toothpaste and the like.

Starting your planning early also affords you the time to discover valuable insights and secrets of the industry such as direct flights are usually more expensive than indirect ones (but safer) or that hostels and serviced apartments might be better accommodation alternatives to hotels when you are planning for longer stays and so on.

Choose Low Season

If you are planning to travel on a shoestring budget, then low season will make a lot of sense. In Kenya, this means the rainy season between 1st of April and 30th June and also between 1st of November to about the 15th of December.

During this time most tariffs for accommodation and airlines are at their lowest. Most hotels and lodges at this time are also running very appealing special offers and discount promotions.  So if someone told you low season is synonymous with low quality, tell them it depends!