Category: Money Matters
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Sub category: Travel
21 February 2013

Even savers need a holiday – nine tips for stretching your budget

Fancy a change of scene but limited by how much you can spend? A flexible approach and a little time invested in planning is all it takes to make that budget-friendly holiday a reality – without stressing out your bank account.

Here are a few tips to help you save and get the most for your money:

1. Compare notes

Sites such as Expedia and Webjet will let you compare prices for all the airlines so you can find the best deal. Be aware of additional fees incurred when booking through a comparison site; you might find it cheaper to book directly via the airline or hotel site once you’ve made your decision.

Want reassurance that you’re getting value for money? Not only does Trip Advisor aggregate prices from different comparison sites, it’s also a feedback forum for travellers who have been there, done that – so you can get a good indication of where your money is going.

2. Track 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.

Want flexibility to change your hotel booking if you find a cheaper option? Book accommodation that comes with a free cancellation guarantee, and then if you find a better deal simply cancel, make another booking and pocket the savings.

3. Bargain and Haggle

If you’re holidaying at home this year then check out Grays Escape, which allows you to haggle for the best hotel deals across Australia. If you’re not too fussy about where you’ll be staying, then you could opt for a secret hotel deal through Last Minute and save substantially in the process. Bear in mind though – you won’t know the name of the hotel until you’ve paid and there’s usually a no refund policy.

4. Budget airlines

The growing range of destinations offered by budget airlines has opened up travel opportunities for frugal travellers, especially throughout Asia.

A return ticket to Sydney from Singapore can cost upwards of $800 on the full service providers, but Singapore Airlines offshoot Scoot offers return flights from around $400. 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. Consider buying a one-way ticket to your destination and then a one-way back in local currency.

If you’re looking at multiple stops, then booking different legs with budget airlines can work out cheaper – but you’ll need to factor in connection times. If you’re using different airlines then it’s likely you’ll need to recheck your bags, and a missed flight due to bad planning can cancel out any potential savings on offer.

6. Choose cheap destinations

You may have snapped up a bargain plane ticket but getting there is only the beginning. If you have a destination in mind, check out the cost of the whole trip before you book your flights – including accommodation, attractions and meals out.

That $400 return airfare to Singapore with Scoot might be super cheap, but add on pricey hotels and your 3 night budget trip could end up costing you well over $1000.

Pay attention to the exchange rate before you go, and be aware of how much our Aussie dollar will buy you in your proposed destination.  Swap your week away in New York for a week in Bangkok and you could get a 5* holiday on a 2* budget.

7. Splurge on some things but cut back where you need to

There’s no point in travelling half way round the world yet not being able to afford to do anything. Work out what’s important to you – if you’re spending most of the day out and about then do you really need that 5 star hotel?  Instead, choose a more affordable option and use the money you save on activities instead.

8. Download only the guidebook chapters you need

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 choosy about the information you need. Only going to Phuket on your Thailand holiday? You won’t need the guidebook for the whole country. Lonely Planet now offers the opportunity to download only the chapters you need – at minimal cost.

9. Make the most of Wi-Fi

Ever been hit with a hefty phone bill on returning from an overseas trip? Check your phone coverage and pricing before you go to make sure you’re aware of the charges.

Data can be the biggest cost, so consider de-activating your data capability whilst you’re out of the country and relying on public Wi-Fi for your internet searches. Hotels often offer free Wi-Fi,  but even if you have to pay a few extra dollars a day for the privilege, your savings will still be greater than if you’re using your regular data package.

Say goodbye to expensive phone calls and text messages by relying on Skype for international calls, and download What’s App for free instant messages, even when you’re overseas.

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