Sometimes organising a summer holiday can make you feel more exhausted than excited. Fear not: Planning your getaway no longer needs to be a headache, with these handy hints for saving money while planning the trip of a lifetime.
Book in advance
Leah Squires, owner of family travel agent byokids.com.au, says the first rule when travelling on a budget is to get in early. Try to book a holiday before demand starts to grow and steer clear of peak periods.
If you don’t have school-age children, there is no need to travel during school holiday time, so try to avoid it at all costs.
If you must travel at a peak time, go against the grain, advises Wotif.com Product Director Donna Rodios.
Beach locations are popular in summer, so take advantage of lower hotel rates in the CBD.
Utilise points programs like those operated by Frequent Flyer, Woolworths or BWS, as they often translate into travel vouchers or flights.
Choose appropriate accommodation
Larger groups should aim to rent apartments or houses rather than paying for inter-connecting hotel rooms.
Finding self-contained accommodation with a kitchen allows you to cook in your room so you don’t have to eat out.
Keep an eye out for accommodation that includes daily breakfasts or a “kids eat free” policy.
“Flights are always a massive cost,” Ms. Squires admits, so staying local and driving to your destination will ensure you stay within budget.
If you have to take a flight, Ms. Squires suggests choosing a destination that has a lot of options.
The more available flights there are, the greater competition between airlines and the lower the price. There are helpful websites to help you compare airline prices, such as webjet.com.au and lastminute.com.au.
Beware of exchange rates
If you’re travelling overseas, choose your destination wisely. It pays to pick a country where the exchange rate is favorable.
Hit the road
Camper vans or caravans are great budget options, Ms. Squires says, as long as travel distances aren’t too long.
All-inclusive deals like those offered by cruise lines or resorts are often great value.
Aim to get extra nights or airport transfers included.
While a package “might look expensive to start with,” Ms. Squires says, “When you sit down to see what you will be spending it usually works out to be cheaper.”
It also pays to be adventurous when purchasing a travel deal.
Ms. Rodios recommends that a flexible attitude when choosing a destination and instead “let the discounts make the decision for you.”
Choosing a great package might just take you to an undiscovered travel gem.
House-swap or couch-surf
Sites like HomeLink require an annual membership fee in exchange for access to a database of homes around the world.
Choose your destination and make contact with a homeowner to arrange to swap houses for an agreed-upon period of time.
If you’re travelling alone and enjoy the simple life, it’s worth trying couchsurfing.org to find a host who is happy to lend you a section of their lounge room.
They take a certain degree of trust, but house-swapping and couch-surfing ensure that accommodation is either cheap or free and you often become more immersed in the local culture and lifestyle than you would staying in a hotel.
Find fun for free
There are plenty of activities that require little to no money.
Ms. Rodios advises you to take advantage of your accommodation’s facilities, like pools, spas, gyms, tennis courts, watersports or kids clubs.
Hiking or cycling around a city is a good way to save money while seeing the sights and getting some exercise.
It’s also worth remembering that many of the permanent collections of Australia’s museums and galleries are absolutely free to visit.