Finance Your Budget How to avoid Easter travel rip-offs
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How to avoid Easter travel rip-offs

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Easter is on its way – and the chance to escape. Coinciding with school holidays and the ANZAC day long weekend, it’s going to be one of Australia’s biggest holiday seasons ever. Travel operators know this, and they’re not going to be discounting. So here’s how to avoid some of the “peak holiday surcharges” and get the most out of your holiday budget.

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1. Book transport, tickets ahead

Everything is cheaper if you buy it in advance, from airport parking and rental cars to entertainment tickets and spa treatments. Dreamworld tickets are $40 cheaper for a family of four when booked online. Pre-book six days of parking at Sydney Airport, and you’ll save $166. If you want to stretch your dollars further, you’ll have to ditch the spontaneity and plan early.

2. Shop around for insurance

It definitely pays to shop around before accepting the airline or travel agent insurance quote. Some airlines earn over 50% commission on the travel insurance policies. Mozo’s data shows travel insurance prices varying wildly between provider.  A family of four travelling to Fiji for 5 nights can get coverage from as little as $44 for a basic policy with unlimited medical up to $155 for full comprehensive cover.

Compare travel insurance here on Mozo.

3. Don’t double up

Make sure you’re not paying twice for stuff – with things like rental car excess reduction you may already be covered by your existing travel insurance policy, or in-built travel insurance on your credit cards. Before accepting the add-ons pushed by the car hire firm, see if you’re already covered.

4. Not fantastic plastic

Hidden in the fine print of your credit card may be a host of international transaction charges – as much as $5 per overseas withdrawal. Foreign exchange fees can also be hefty at over 3%. Never use your credit card for overseas cash withdrawals and take out larger quantities of money from ATMs so you can limit the fees. Prepaid travel cards are a good idea because they give you certainty by locking in an exchange rate. Then you don’t have to worry if the dollar takes a tumble as your plane takes off.

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5. Superfluous souvenirs

You’ve probably got a poolroom full of novelty shotglasses, seashells and snowglobes (all made in China – even though you went to Paris) while you foist various plastic magnets and keyrings on less than thrilled family back home. According to a Skyscanner survey the worst holiday souvenirs include ornaments, “comedy” t-shirts and cheap jewllery. Research in advance what your destination’s actual crafts and specialities are and stick to those – and only if they’re something you would actually use. Don’t waste credit card interest on knickknacks that even Vinnies would reject.

With a bit of forward planning you could save big bucks on a family holiday – enough to see more attractions or even stay a day or two longer.

Kirsty Lamont is a director of Mozo.com.au, which helps Australians compare savings accounts, credit cards, insurance and other financial products.  Kirsty was one of the launch team for Virgin Money when it started in Australia in 2003, and also held a senior role at BankWest before joining Mozo in 2007.