Holidays come in all shapes and sizes – but whether it’s a quick beach break or an extended European vacay, chances are it’ll be happening on a budget. The good news? There are ways to make your holiday money go further (which means you can take more time off, right?!). If you’re smart about it, you can do more, pay less, and still have a stellar time.
Here are our top tips for stretching your budget, without feeling like Scrooge McDuck.
1. Pick a budget-friendly destination
It’s no secret that some holiday spots are cheaper than others – not only in terms of travel costs, but living costs too. So when you’re sussing out different places, do your homework. Sure, you may be able to get a cheap flight to Singapore, but will meals and accommodation blow your budget once you’re there? And similarly, you might be able to live for next to nothing on some secluded island, but getting there in the first place might cost you an arm and a leg. Don’t forget to factor in the Australia dollar value too.
2. Keep an eye on prices
There’s nothing more frustrating than booking a flight only to watch the prices plummet a few days later. Check out Kayak which not only allows you to compare prices, but also tracks past pricing trends to indicate whether the cost of your flight is expected to rise or fall in the next few days. If you’re flexible on when you travel, then Skyscanner can help you find the cheapest dates to fly.
Sites such as Expedia and Webjet will also let you compare prices for loads of different airlines and hotels so you can find the best deal – but watch out for extra fees that these sites may charge. If you want flexibility on your accommodation, you can also go for options that give you a free cancellation guarantee, so you can change your plans if something better comes up. If you’re holidaying at home, Grays Escape also lets you haggle for the best hotel deals around.
3. Take a chance
Are you the kind of person who likes an adventure, and doesn’t mind venturing into the unknown? Then you might want to consider booking a secret deal through a site like Last Minute. You’ll get enough basic info to help make a decision, but you won’t find out the actual name of your destination until you book. You could end up somewhere completely new – and the bonus is that you’ll save substantially in the process. Just bear in mind that there’s usually a no refund policy, so you need to be willing to take a risk!
4. Don’t turn your nose up at budget airlines
The growing range of destinations offered by budget airlines has opened up travel opportunities for frugal travellers, especially throughout Asia – and the service can be pretty good! Given the price difference, it’s worth at least comparing the options. For example, budget providers offer return tickets to Sydney from Singapore for around half the cost of what the full service providers charge. Singapore is also a great hub for travelling onto other Asian cities, with Scoot, Jetstar Asia and Air Asia all offering cheap flights.
5. Consider one-way tickets
Booking a return flight with one airline is the quickest and easiest option, but if you have the time, it pays to shop around. Some travellers find it’s cheaper to buy a one-way ticket to their destination, then a one-way return in local currency (but how feasible this is will depend on where you’re going).
If you’re looking at multiple stops, then booking different legs with budget airlines can also work out cheaper, you’ll just need to factor in connection times (especially if you’re using different airlines, which may be located at opposite ends of a terminal. In a massive terminal like LAX, it can take you half an hour just to walk between gates!).
6. Give yourself scope to splurge on what matters
There’s no point in travelling half way round the world if you can’t afford to do anything fun once you get there! So when you’re planning your holiday, work out what really matters to you, and allocate enough money for those things – and in turn, decide where you’re happy to make concessions. Maybe you can stay somewhere cheap, and eat like a king – or maybe you fly budget but treat yourself to an amazing tour. It’s about doing what’s right for you.
7. Don’t go nuts buying guidebooks
The days when you needed to pack a different guide book for each country are long gone. Now you can save on luggage space and cash by being more selective about the information you need. With Lonely Planet you can now just download the specific guidebook chapters you need, at minimal cost – so you don’t need to pay for unnecessary info that may become outdated.
8. Be canny about your communication
We’ve all heard about some poor unsuspecting person who’s been hit with an enormous phone bill after making a single call from overseas – and no one wants to get stung that way! So when you’re heading off, explore the options for pre-paid SIM cards or even data plans from your provider at home. Using Wi-Fi as much as possible can help you save on your data usage (and these days, it’s often free – bonus!).
If you’re feeling really bold you could even opt to go mobile-free, and just send your loved ones an old school postcard or two. After all, a tech detox could be a great way to let go and really appreciate the place you’ve saved so hard to visit.
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