Roughly half of Australians wear a concealed money belt to protect their cash when travelling overseas, but would-be travellers looking to get the most out of their money on holiday have a range of tools at their disposal that don’t require such Get Smart gadgetry.
A new report from multinational bank HSBC found Australian travellers are cautious about protecting their money while abroad, with 56 per cent of Australian travellers using concealed money belts and four in five storing their cards and money on different parts of their person.
But there are other ways Australians can stop their money going to waste and squeeze the most out of every dollar.
Location, location, location
The first trick to saving on holiday is to pick a destination that offers great value for money.
Alex Ozdowski, the director of Expedia Australia, said travellers need to consider exchange rates, accommodation prices, the cost of air fares, and the general price of “on-ground expenses” when trying to work out the affordability of a holiday.
Expedia looked at some of those factors and gave The New Daily a list of the five best-value destinations for Australian travellers.
Foreign exchange costs vary
Justin Rampono, director of foreign exchange comparison site The Currency Shop, said many Australians think paying high exchange rates is unavoidable, and simply accept what they are charged.
However, there are a number of tricks that savvy travellers can use to minimise the cost of changing their currency.
For example, many destinations popular with Australian travellers – like Bali, Thailand, Singapore and New Zealand – tend to offer more competitive rates on cash than can be found domestically (though it’s best not to swap cash at the airport, where vendors can charge as much as 28 per cent of the transaction).
Buying cash online also tends to be cheaper than in store, Mr Rampono said, but it takes time to arrive.
Those opting to use cards instead of cash will face a different set of challenges, as the kinds of fees and charges associated with each of these vary wildly.
Mr Rampono said the cost of using a domestic card overseas is “for the most part pretty awful”, but they are worth keeping handy as a back up in case cash runs short.
Prepaid travel cards are another option, and allow travellers to lock in an attractive exchange rate before heading overseas, but Mr Rampono said they are “an absolute minefield” of fees.
“We counted something close to 13 or 14 different charges when we reviewed all of them, and it’s not really clear all of the time when you buy one what these fees are and how you’ll be charged,” he said.
The savviest way to fund an overseas holiday, however, is to use all three methods of payment, but to pick and choose which to use for different sorts of transactions.
Other tips and tricks
Comparison site Mozo added that travellers can also overpay more for food, transport and insurance, but again there are ways to get a better deal.
Their advice is to ask locals for restaurant recommendations and take advantage of complimentary hotel meals to avoid the ‘tourist tax’ charged at cafes in districts popular with foreigners, and try to use public transport where possible so as to not get stung by expensive car hire fees (and the extras that too often come along with them).
The best way to save on insurance is to shop around for a better deal, and “steer clear” of ‘tick-box’ insurance offered as an add-on by travel operators.