Taking an overseas holiday can be more expensive than dating a Kardashian. But don’t let that discourage you, there are plenty of ways to save money while travelling and make travel more affordable. Here are my top tips on how to keep travel costs down and still have a fantastic holiday.
1. Shop around for travel insurance
It can be easy to just say yes when a travel agent asks you about adding travel insurance onto your booking. The price they offer you isn’t necessarily the cheapest, so it really does pay to shop around. Make sure the policy you buy covers you for everything you may need, based on where you’re visiting. Putting in some extra legwork at the insurance phase can save you hundreds, just don’t compromise on the quality of cover you choose.
One thing to keep in mind, it is important to organise travel insurance when you book your flights and/or hotel as you might not be covered if something goes wrong in the lead-up to departure.
2. Don’t just say yes to baggage insurance
It can also be really easy to say yes when an airline asks you if you’d like to add baggage insurance to your booking. Before you commit to a solid yes, adding more money onto the flight price, find out what you’re actually getting that isn’t already included. Your travel insurance may cover lost baggage, similarly your plane ticket may include cover. Jetstar, for example, includes cover of up to $1,600 for baggage damaged or lost while in their care. Why would you pay extra for something you’re already getting? That’s madness!
3. Book your flights well in advance
Flights tend to be cheaper further out from the date of departure if you can buy your tickets up to a year out from the flight, do it! It could save you quite a bit of money as the tickets for a flight become more in demand as the departure date looms. If you do find a great price, take it to a travel agent and see if they can beat it.
4. Be flexible with your destination
Sometimes I book a holiday based on cheap flights, not on the destination itself. It may be a destination I have thought about visiting, but the cheap flights can often be the clincher when deciding between two places. Airlines like Jetstar and Virgin have sales on a Friday which offer some pretty sweet deals. Jetstar also runs a ‘grab a seat’ sale which can score you pretty cheap airfares to places like New Zealand.
5. Don’t be afraid to ask your hotel for a better rate
There can be a bit of a ‘cheap’ stigma attached to asking for a discount, but it’s definitely worth doing. Contact the hotel directly and ask them for a better rate, especially if you’re booking more than one room. This also works if it’s for a special occasion like a birthday celebration, anniversary or honeymoon.
6. Enjoy luxury digs
If you can’t afford to stay in a luxury hotel the whole time, but really want to experience it, start in basic accommodation and ‘step up’ every few days. Maybe you can start at a 3-star hotel for a few nights, followed by a 4-star hotel and finish it off with a couple of nights in luxury 5-star accommodation. This little trick works especially well on your first night in a new city, when you’re really jet lagged and would happily curl up to sleep in a dog kennel.
7. Find a place with breakfast included
It doesn’t always work out cheaper, so make sure you do your research and compare room prices before booking. Having breakfast included can save you money though, especially if you usually tend to order a big stack of pancakes and a massive coffee from a café every day.
8. Enjoy picnic lunches or dinners
One of the most memorable meals I’ve had was sat on a grassy hill at Sacre Coeur in Paris, watching the sunset, eating a $5 bowl of supermarket pasta. The view was absolutely unbeatable and, being outdoors, we were able to soak in the atmosphere of the place. Visit a local supermarket or deli, grab something delicious and enjoy a picnic lunch or sunset dinner.
9. Don’t buy travel minis
Travel minis can be an absolute joke price-wise, so don’t succumb to the need to buy cute little bottles every time you travel. Rather, recycle your travel mini bottles or buy reusable ones that you can fill with your existing products. If you want to be really crafty, grab the small beauty product bottles supplied by a hotel in your room, empty them and fill them with your own products.
10. Water and snacks
Do a supermarket shop when you arrive, stock up on bottled water and snacks, keep them in your hotel room and take them with you when you go out. If you’re going out for a night of partying, buy a few drinks from the local liquor store and have some pre-drinks and a cheese platter in your room before you head out.
11. Fine dining
Budget for one nice meal a day, rely on cheaper options for the other two main meals. This way you don’t miss out on enjoying the delicious food you really want to try and won’t break the budget either. If I’m travelling on a really tight budget (i.e. backpacking Europe) I’ll work out my daily food budget. If I eat cheaper meals for breakfast and lunch, it means I can go crazy at dinner and have a really special meal at a beautiful restaurant with no expense spared.
12. Divide and conquer
If you’re travelling with someone, there’s no point you both paying for and packing the same thing. Come up with a rough idea of what you need for your trip, go halves in the shareable things and divide the items up between the two of you. It’ll help you save money and stay under your baggage allowance, which also saves you a lot of money.
13. Don’t catch cabs
Ask your family or a friend for a lift to the airport and offer to pay them a little bit of money, rather than a $70 cab ride. Some airport transfer services will pick you up at your front door or you may have a hotel nearby that’s part of their usual route, using these services can save you $60 or more.
14. Withdrawing cash
Do a little research to find a credit card or debit card which offers the best fees for overseas transactions, particularly when you’re withdrawing cash from an ATM. If you’re staying in a secure hotel make larger withdrawals, take your daily spending budget out with you and leave the rest in the hotel safe.
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Phoebe Lee is a travel writer and award-winning blogger with a love for storytelling. Phoebe creates practical, fun and engaging written content designed to inspire and energise travel-lovers and dreamers. Follow her and Matt’s adventures at home and around the world, right here on Little Grey Box and through Instagram, Facebook and YouTube.