We all want to look at ways to save on costs and maximise our spending money when we are on holidays. BUT sometimes we are so caught up in choosing our destinations we forget to plan out trip so we save money along the way.
As a family we’ve found some great ways to save money over the years, so I’ve compiled my ideas plus some great tips (with a little help from our friends) for you. These will give you the best opportunity to save money and have some extra cash to spend while your there!
If you don’t have the funds right now, that’s ok, check out “How can you get on top of your spending and start saving?” for some great tips on how to create savings. Allocating some of those savings towards your next trip is the first step.
It’s time to start planning…
In researching for this article I grabbed the opportunity to interview some seasoned travellers (who happen to be good friends that like to travel a lot!).
- Start your research online
Break down your research into Flights, Accommodation and Tours. This will help you get an idea of the likely costs and different offerings from the various carriers, hotels and tour guides to help you narrow down your search.
- Read reviews
Beware that some of the online holiday dealers that are offering “unbelievable” prices don’t always turn out to be the best choice. You could find yourself arriving at a hotel that looks nothing like the AD or not even having a booking at all! You can avoid all this by reading reviews from previous travellers Independent reviews are best, and you can usually find them from Trip Adviser, Oyster.com or Tripexpert.com. However, the best reviews are word of mouth, so be sure to talk to friends and family who have travelled there before.
- Talk to your local travel agent
Speak with your local travel agent and compare prices to see if they can price match some of your deals that you have researched. Sometimes they can provide valuable insights and knowledge, especially if they’ve travelled to the destination themselves. This can be a good way to ensure the validity of your bookings as well as helping you save time and money. You don’t have to book all parts of your holiday with a travel agent as there are still savings to be had by booking online yourself, just ensure you do your research!
- Try going direct
Sometimes you can source a cheaper deal by going to the hotels or airlines directly. It always pays to ask; remember if you don’t ask the answer is always no. Therefore, no saving!
- Travel expos are gold
Keep an eye out for Travel expos. Here you can learn invaluable information and insights into your desired destination. You can also pick up some great discounts on flights, accommodations and tours at these events. Just be sure you have done your research first; don’t get caught out paying more.
- Join a Holiday destination Facebook page
By joining a holiday destination Facebook page you can follow topics posted by others. It’s a great way to pick up tips on where to stay, when to book, what’s the best time to travel, different tours. It gives you some good insight into other people’s experiences and recommendations for you to consider. Ask your own questions and look for recommendations.
- Travel outside peak travel periods
Savings can be made by travelling outside peak season by being aware of seasonal holidays and school holidays. It is wise to look at what is happening at your destination during the period you wish to travel. Are there special events or holidays that may impact your holiday costs as well as availability? My advice is check first!
- AirBnB it
Sometimes savings can be made by not booking into hotels and staying at Bed and Breakfast accommodation or AirBnB. You can save on food expenses by staying somewhere that has a kitchen facilities but still make it fun. Making your breakfast at home or a packing lunch will help you save on food purchases. Or on the flip side look for accommodation bookings where breakfast is included.
- Save on transport
Compare prices of accommodation close to transport and tour venues to save on transport if you do not wish to hire a car. By being close you can walk and save on taxis or other means of transport. If you would prefer to hire a car, make sure you look for discounts through your insurance provider. Sometimes by being a member they offer discounts on car hire or accommodation venues.
- Over 60’s
If you’re 60 or older, you can sometimes access cheap tickets, meals or transport. Speak up (my dad’s an expert at this), it doesn’t hurt to ask, even if senior discounts aren’t advertised.
Do you have a trusted friend that travels a lot that you can talk about their experiences and savings?
Here are some valuable insights from two of my friends who love to travel, who I asked for their top tips on booking, planning and saving money when travelling:
Travel history: Australia (all states & territories), USA (Hawaii), Thailand and Singapore
Next trip: USA (mainland)
Lynette’s savings tips:
- I have $100 deducted from each pay to go into a bonus interest savings account that I don’t touch for 11 months of the year.
- Whenever I have a $5 note in my wallet, I put it away. Bit slower to save with this method but will have a lump sum to spend as we see fit (as a family). Either at home or on a holiday.
- Any loose change I have goes into a container/piggy bank this all can be put towards spending money.
Lynette’s accommodation tips
For holidays, I usually book accommodation through the HomeAway app (think it was previously called Stayz) – very similar to AirBnB. It’s cheaper than booking a hotel and they’re all either houses, townhouses or villas etc. Fully furnished and with everything you need. We’re then able to buy all our food and cook at home. Saving on meals out every day.
If we need to hire a car while we’re away, I take advantage of my NRMA membership to get a discount with Thrifty. After comparing prices across all car hire companies, they always work out cheaper.
“I guess my biggest tip for holidays is research everything so you can make the right decision and ensure the best savings.”
Lynette’s current trip to USA
We booked most of our accommodation through Flight Centre this time around. I first did my own research to see if I could get better discounts or deals myself on line. Whenever I found better rates, I went back to Flight Centre to see if they’d price match. Some they did but others not, so I cancelled their booking and went direct.
Some of the savings I’ve managed so far:
- In San Diego, the hotel we’re staying in was more expensive through FC but I booked with them anyway as I managed to get them to include daily breakfast for the same rate.
- I organised our own travel insurance as I found a more reputable insurer at a much better price.
- I am booking Legoland passes direct as I couldn’t get the date I wanted and it’s cheaper than going through a travel agent.
- Flight Centre also have the “Captain’s Package”, which is $99 per person but it covers you if you find cheaper flights or accommodation. I’ve already been refunded $600 for the San Diego accommodation (it’s $150 pp).
I’ve joined a couple of Facebook groups and have found lots of good tips and tricks from seasoned and newbie travellers. There’s also great advice on where to stay in the US and what to expect.
Also, tipping in the US can be confusing (when to tip, how much to tip etc). A lot of people have said to have plenty of $1 notes and keep your tipping money separate to your spending money, and don’t hand over a $20 or $50 bill when tipping because you probably won’t get change! It’s also a good idea to tip housekeeping a couple of dollars a day.
Travel history: Australia (most states), USA, Bali, Indonesia
Next trip: Europe
Jason has some great tips!
When planning a trip where do you start?
I start my research on line searching information on where we would like to go, cost of flights, accommodation ect. From here we can work out a budget on cost and then keep checking daily deals on line.
Cost savings tips when booking your holidays.
- Avoid peak times, dates and look at cost differences in flights for leaving mid-week vs end of week or weekend. Big savings can be made by booking mid-week first or last flight out for the day. We saved $400 per person by booking our latest trip on a Tuesday compared to a Friday.
- Booking your trip, a year in advance can also give you savings especially on flights and cruises. When looking at flights always compare the price either side of the day you chose you may get a cheaper flight by moving your flight one day earlier or later.
- Review package deals, often you find there are things in them that you don’t need or wouldn’t do, and you could save by booking items separately.
- Booking AirBNB is a great savings on many levels. You are staying in homes or villas where there is a kitchen and laundry. You save money on meals as you can cook at home and you save on luggage cost as you can pack less as you can wash your clothes where you are staying.
What are your top booking sites?
- Flights: I use Sky scanner and Expedia for flights sometimes going direct to the carrier also
- Accommodation: we use AirBNB and Bookings.com.
- With AirBnb you only have to leave a 50% deposit and then pay balance the day or week before you leave. This is a great option when you are still saving.
- With Bookings.com you book with no payment and you can change, cancel or pay the day or week before.
- Tours: I also book all my tours on line, I search for deals and then purchase what tours I want so that I have locked in a rate and it helps me with my budget know what I have spent so far on the trip and what I need to save for daily spending.
Best savings made so far on your current trip?
Our flights: paid only $4,000 return to Europe for a family of 4 and it is a top carrier with a direct flight!
Aussie’s love to take holidays whether it is at home or abroad but with so much pressure on household budgets today, it’s not always easy to make our holiday dreams come true. With a combination of looking at how we are spending and saving before we book our holiday PLUS using some of this great tips and ideas, you can make your holiday dollars go further and have a great time!