Finance Consumer Australian travellers to dig deeper into their hip pockets this Christmas
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Australian travellers to dig deeper into their hip pockets this Christmas

Christmas
Holidaymakers may have to double-dip into their savings to afford accommodation in popular spots. Photo: TND/Getty
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Cooped-up Australians looking forward to travelling this Christmas season should prepare to splash the cash as accommodation prices skyrocket.

As Australian states exit months of lockdown, many people have their eyes set on traditionally popular coastal areas for their end-of-year festivities.

Fifteen per cent of Australians plan to travel over the final three months of 2021, but they face jacked-up accommodation and flight prices as businesses take advantage of surging demand.

Finder travel expert Angus Kidman said holidaymakers usually find smaller towns more expensive than the big cities, because there is little supply of accommodation to meet the high demand.

This year, Airbnb data showed the average homestay in Byron Shire costs $96 per person per night.

That’s 39 per cent higher than the typical Sydney listing, and 81 per cent higher than the typical Melbourne listings.

A week-long Airbnb booking for six people over the holiday period could cost from $12,000 to $60,000.

Mr Kidman said the Byron area found itself in a “sweet spot” mainly due to airline infrastructure, as it’s the only New South Wales coastal town servicing flights from Sydney across all the major airlines.

Although other coastal towns might see a boom as more regular flights resume, Mr Kidman said Byron had more flight options, as well as the Hollywood appeal of being the home of the Hemsworths.

Christmas
Chris Hemsworth and his family’s celebrity status has rubbed off on Byron Bay. Photo: Getty

Some people will be unprepared to pay such high prices to holiday in Byron, but Mr Kidman said there will always be “indulgence” in the tourism sector.

Luckily, flight prices aren’t looking like they will rise above usual holiday rates, Mr Kidman said.

“It’s still going to get more expensive to fly at Christmas, but it’s much more pronounced on the accommodation side than it is on the flight side,” he said.

Four tips to save money during Christmas travels

  1. Hurry up: Mr Kidman said Australian holidaymakers should “get onto it” and start planning their holidays as soon as possible, because flights and accommodation prices continue to rise closer to the holiday period. “It will only get more expensive from here on in,” he said
  2. Be flexible with dates: Because most Australians get time off over Christmas, it’s worth planning your getaway outside of the typical holiday dates to find more competitive prices
  3. Cheaper isn’t always better: Make sure your flight and accommodation bookings can be refunded or changed due to last-minute circumstances, such as snap lockdowns. Mr Kidman said a cheaper deal might mean more risk of losing money if something goes wrong
  4. Ensure you’re covered: “Make sure you’re still thinking about travel insurance,” Mr Kidman said. “We’re so used to COVID now, we forget that we’ve still got the issues around [things like] missing baggage.” Although insurers won’t cover you for lockdown-related cancellations, some will cover you if you get COVID yourself and can’t travel as a result.