Money-saving tips to avoid breaking the bank while on vacation
Josh Martin is a Kiwi journalist based in London.
OPINION: Despite my arguments to the contrary, my other half, boss and bank manager all agree that vacations are not essential expenses. Transport? Yes. Travel? Not really.
So, as inflation rates climb around the world, it’s fair to assume non-essential spending will come under scrutiny as households look to tighten their belts.
Of course, the most obvious answer to those looking to control costs is simply “don’t go” and most people never do, but for those looking to get the most out of a trip and To keep the bean counters happy, I’ve rounded up the latest and greatest money-saving tips for your next trip.
* Flexible pricing: the best airlines to book with in these uncertain times
* A traveler’s guide to getting the best deal
Who still has credits?
There are millions of dollars locked in airline, hotel and travel agency credits…and you can bet they want you to forget when they expire. Incorporate as many as you can into your next trip abroad.
It’s a big problem. It’s not just your choice of destination, time period or airfare offer that will play a significant role in your overall spending, but also where and how you choose to stay. Accommodation will, in many cases, exceed the cost of your flights for a long vacation, but we don’t tend to emphasize value as much as airfare (for which we have far fewer options).
Yes, yes, you’ve heard it before, but peak season means peak prices, and you don’t need to move dates far to reap the benefits of shoulder season. In Europe, July and August are peak times, but the weather is still hospitable in May and September, and come in winter for a completely different Advent experience.
Waiting can be expensive
If you travel with an open mind, your wallet will remain closed. As expectations are high, you’ll book in high season, stay in the upscale part of town, eat only this thing of this exact place. Spontaneity has its advantages: if you search on Google Flight for “Anywhere” as your destination and fill in the dates that suit you, you will be surprised at the offers that appear.
Cash and card strategy
You won’t get currency from an airport kiosk, to begin with. Prepaid exchange cards can act as an advance holiday savings account and are safe while you travel, but if you withdraw money with a normal bank card, the various fees add up, so bundle them together then divide them.
Your checked bags (and sometimes even your hand luggage) are unfortunately no longer included in the price of your flight on many airlines these days, but that doesn’t mean that everyone in your family or group should pay 23 kg of luggage. Team up, share the baggage bill.
I will avoid the (incorrect) advice about booking on a Tuesday or flying midweek to ensure the best airfare. In truth, there are too many factors. Instead, airfare comparison sites like Skyscanner, Kayak, and Google Flights let you set up an alert for an itinerary and price, and will email you when deals drop below on your preferred dates.
Location, location, location
It’s not worth saving $10 a night by staying 2km from where the action is if your group has to take taxis, trains, or buses multiple times a day to eat and shop. tourism, then weigh whether the extra space or amenities (e.g. a kitchen) are worth the hassle and travel expense. When it comes to choosing the actual destination, associate the designated “relaxation” days in your itinerary with places where it’s cheap to park, rather than attractions like Santorini, New York, Hong Kong, etc
Nothing like a free meal
Paying for three meals a day can really eat into your daily budget. This is where being smart with your accommodation can pay off, dining in, trying to recreate a local favorite or embracing street food at night can connect you to a place and opt for your unique meal for lunch – even high quality food at an affordable price. If you’re a real foodie, act like a retiree and eat early through apps like FirstTable to get big discounts on your bill.
If public transit options don’t suit your schedule, try crowd-sharing websites like BlaBlaCar where your fee for a seat in a ride only covers fuel.
It’s not just the exchange rates that are terribly expensive at an airport, almost everything at these hubs has a huge markup. I challenge you to find me a good value at an airport. Get in, get out with as few transactions as possible.
Tours can be a great way to meet people, learn more about a specific topic or area, and pack a few disparate activities into one or more days… they can also be a glorified mini-bus trip with very little of added value.
Read reviews and rate what you get apart from transport. In many cases (Champagne de Paris etc come to mind) it can be much cheaper to use local trains and buses to recreate the route at a fraction of the cost.