Spend less and travel more in 2018

Tenele Conway

Are you, like me, currently suffering from the post-Christmas financial blues?

All of those Christmas presents that represent the love you have for family and friends have left a gaping hole in your savings (if you had any to begin with) or perhaps you’re staring down the barrel of credit card debt. It can be a harsh reality.

If you are wondering at this point how you are possibly going to be able to travel this year without selling a kidney, I think I can be of some assistance.

Here are my top tips for spending less on your travel in 2018.

Don’t let your budget be dictated by your destination

In recent years I have become quite the miser with what I will spend on an overseas holiday. I am not willing to give up travel but with building a house the budget is certainly tight. The old saying that ‘necessity is the mother of invention’ is so true. Over the last few years, I have completely changed the way I choose and book where my international holiday will be. I used to have a mental bucket list, places I had to see no matter what the cost. I would go into a new year knowing where I wanted to travel to and just book that destination based on the best deal available at that point in time.

Now I leave the destination completely open, keep my eye on the airfares worldwide and when I see a flight for less than I have ever seen it to any destination I jump on it. This has meant I have flown to Bali with Qantas for $414 per person return, a fare that should have been closer to $1000. I grabbed return fares to Vanuatu for under $500 per person and a similar tactic could have seen you pick up fares to London this year for under $1000 return, Thailand for under $600 return or the Greek Islands for $800 return on the new Singapore/Scoot partnership. The easiest way to keep track of the fares is to sign up for the airline’s mailing list.

Book your Christmas travel in the first three months of the year

If you want or need to travel during the Christmas/New Year period you have to recognise that you are wanting to go away at the busiest time of year to travel and I would recommend setting your expectations accordingly. Expect peak season fares that will book out well in advance with the price increasing in a pattern directionally proportional to the quantity of bookings taken. Contrary to popular opinion, fares won’t “drop” closer to departure. It doesn’t pay to wait and January is not too early to be looking at booking your next Christmas holiday.

Forget the add ons

This tip taps into the real Scrooge McDuck mentality, it isn’t for everyone but if your budget is as tight as a pensioner after a night on the pokies this might just get you put on a plane instead of a weekend in Walgatt. If you are game to fly with a budget airline such as Tiger, Air Asia, Scoot or Jetstar think about buying the base fare alone and forget the extras.

These airlines will advertise their fares at an extremely low rate but by the time you add on baggage, meals, entertainment and the amenity pack you will have generally added a minimum of $200 to your cost. Suddenly that cheap fare doesn’t look like such a good deal after all. But if you think about it, what do you really need? Can you travel with just a carry on bag of 7 kilos, take your own food on the plane (it could be considerably better than the food on offer anyway), bring a phone or a tablet with your own movies or get real wild and bring a book! We get used to having all of these extra comforts offered free of charge by the full-service airlines but if you need a getaway and the budget is lacking then why not see how frugal you can be.

Consider all factors

Don’t forget to factor costs on the ground into your overall budget – it will make a huge difference to the final figure you spend on your holiday. You might pick up a cheap package to somewhere like New Caledonia but if you don’t realise an ice cream on the South Pacific Franc will set you back the Australian equivalent of $10 then you will be in for a rude shock. Do a little research before you go and find out the average meal costs from blogs and travel guides and make sure you aren’t unintentionally booking yourself into an over-priced tourist trap.

The best things in life are free

The world is full of free fun, you just have to seek it out. No matter what destination you end up in there will be free activities to fill your days. Around the world you can find thousands of National Parks with free entry. You could go on a free back-country hike in Jotunheimen, Norway or you could climb Britain’s five highest peaks and stay in free mountain shelters in Cairngorms National Park, Scotland.

Many museums and galleries have free entry, think the Getty Centre in LA housing a renowned art collection or the Musee d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris which has a permanent collection of 20th-century art and art deco furniture.

The really savvy traveller will find normally expensive attractions on rare free entry days. The Colosseum in Rome offers free entry on the first Sunday of each month.

There is an endless list of things to do that won’t lighten your wallet, all across the world. For a comprehensive guide I would recommend taking a look at the Lonely Planet Guide The Best Things In Life Are Free.

WANT MORE?

Click here for the scoop on how to bag the best airfares at the cheapest times and here for whether a cruise holiday is the right fit for you.

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Tenele Conway

Tenele Conway is a veteran of the Canberra Travel industry having worked in retail travel stores around the city for well over decade. Taking full advantage of the perks of the job she has travelled the world primarily at the expense of others and when she isn’t zip lining in Guatemala or cruising the Nile she is bringing together her two passions of world cuisines and travel on her blog www.hungryplanetblog.com. With a cookbook collection worthy of an episode of 'Hoarders' she sees a future as a travelling cookbook author, look out Rick Stein. More about the Author

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