Here’s five doggone good tips on how to cut holiday costs. As global economies stagnate, we’re constantly looking for better ways to stretch our dollars.
1. FLIGHTS: Mid-week flights are the cheapest – typically Tuesday to Thursday. The most expensive day to fly is Friday. And coming back on Sunday is the most expensive day to return. Compare flight prices relentlessly. It’s never been so easy or the options so extensive. I recommend Skyscanner or Farecompare which will link you to at least three sites for price comparisons. Beware of the add-on costs on budget airlines. Some even charge for a bottle of water.
2. MONEY: Never change your money at the airport. The bureau de change rate is a rip-off and so are the commission fees. I pounded the pavements this week (using up more calories than flicking the iPad) looking for travel cards, and UAE Exchange’s cash passport, linked to MasterCard, was finally what I chose. Unlike the ANZ bank, which charges an $A11 fee to open the card and $A55 each time to load currency onto it in subsequent amounts, UAE Exchange has no fees. You can add up to nine currencies onto their card. No charge to add currency in further transactions. The exchange rate is almost as good as the banks, give or take a euro cent. I have no commercial reason to spruik their product. Why should you choose a travel card? Because every time you use an ATM or make a card transaction overseas, not only might you pay an ATM fee, your bank will also charge you for the currency conversion. A card is safer than hauling a wad of cash around.
3. ACCOMMODATION: Try to find hotels that don’t charge a cancellation fee, so if you do find something cheaper at the last moment, you won’t be out of pocket. Hostels are more upmarket these days and have private rooms as well as shared dormitories. I recommend housesitting. Contact Josie Schneider at Housesittingtravel.com for information. That’s the way she and her husband Conrad travel the world. Companies such as LastMinute.com have good discount deals.
4. UNPLUG: A holiday is supposed to be exactly that, a vacation from your plugged-in life. Do you really need to take all your gadgets and spend half your holiday looking for wifi which might not be free? Turn off your mobile phone’s data roaming, at least. It’s never cheap, not matter what your phone provider tells you. Put your smartphone in flight mode and use Viber instead – it’s free and widely available.
5. PICNIC: Do you really need to eat restaurant meals every day? Your waistline and your wallet will be in better shape if you reserve eat-out meals for special occasions. The chances are your accommodation may provide a full breakfast, so eat like a king for that meal and be sensible with the rest. If you’re in Europe, even supermarkets have a wide selection of lovely, local produce for picnics. Visiting produce markets anywhere are satisfying cultural experiences for all ages. Here are the links to my market expeditions in New Zealand, Provence and Sydney, for example. South-East Asia is an exception where a bowl of noodles in steaming broth will cost as little as $A1.
Got any tips on how to cut holiday costs? We would love to hear from you.
*Images courtesy of TravMedia.