Half price holiday hacks
The summer holidays are almost in view and most of us are anxiously anticipating a well-deserved break. But will the budget stretch enough this year to cover that much needed holiday?
We spoke to expert traveller, Kylie Travers of The Thrifty Issue, for her top tips on how to have a holiday to remember this summer without breaking the bank.
Save up to 50 per cent by booking direct
If you're keen to make every holiday dollar stretch further, the easiest place to start is by booking directly with providers instead of relying on comparison sites to offer you the best rates and deals.
"I found this is important for a few reasons. Firstly, the third-party sites take a huge percentage. I search for options using websites like Trivago or Booking.com, then once I have selected my accommodation, I contact the places directly to see what price they could offer," explains Kylie.
"I have saved anywhere from 10 to 30 per cent on accommodation and up to 50 per cent when booking tickets for attractions," says Kylie.
Booking direct can also be an advantage if you think there could be issues with your travel plans.
"It is often easier to work through challenges with the business directly rather than a booking platform with their call centre overseas," says Kylie.
Kylie also recommends searching for accommodation, flights and tours, in incognito mode when you are going to book.
"Everything you do is tracked online now and if you are revisiting a site repeatedly, especially in travel, they have been known to up the prices or indicate it is almost sold out. This is often not the case, and if you clear your cookies, the price will drop," says Kylie.
If you crave adventure and love the idea of seeing where the road takes you, there are a few tips and tricks to balance spontaneity with spending.
If you can, try and avoid travelling in peak times where you'll be paying top dollar for accommodation, fuel, food and experiences. The two-week period over Christmas and New Year is always going to be more expensive than if you travel in late January. The same goes for school holidays throughout the year.
Kylie reminds us that a spending blowout is most likely to happen when you're stuck for choice; and the more regional your holiday destination, the fewer options you'll have in terms of accommodation and restaurants.
She suggests noting hotel reception times to ensure there are no booking or check-in restrictions and keeping a stash of snacks in the car for emergency meals.
"I've done loads of last-minute trips. In fact, I am well known for picking my kids up from school and choosing somewhere random to go for the weekend. But even these last-minute trips require a level of organisation," says Kylie.
Road trip rules
Road trips are a quintessential Aussie holiday experience and can be budget friendly too! To make sure you and the family last the distance, you'll need to prep the car and pack a few essentials.
Start by ensuring your car is mechanically sound before you set off. Check the fluids, battery and the condition of your spare tyre to make sure you minimise the impact of any potential hiccups.
A first aid kit is a must and don't forget to pack plenty of snacks. This simple tip ensures you are not held hostage to the overpriced, mediocre options available at the service station.
Kylie also recommends creating a fun way for your kids to know how long the drive will be.
"I like to tie a piece of string across the backseat of the car with an image of our car attached. I move the car along the string at intervals e.g. 20 minutes or 30 minutes, so they can see how far we have to go based on how much string is left. It greatly reduces the ‘Are we there yet?' questions," says Kylie.
While you're on the road, look for discounts for everything you want to do. Groupon is one website that has great offers, but there are loads of ways to get discounts or coupons. For local specials and deals, check the information centre wherever you go, as the flyers will often have discounts on them.
Regardless of what you get up to these holidays, make sure you keep an eye on all COVID-19 government updates regarding border restrictions and hotspots.
"Know the rules and be smart, because mistakes can cost a fortune," warns Kylie.
Especially when it comes to a packaged deal, or cancellation policy, Kylie says it's important to read the fine print. Little things like not checking arrival and departure times and any excluded dates can be costly if you don't pick them up before you travel.
Consider getting insurance, and always read the fine print, so you know what is an isn't included. You may not think you need it for domestic travel, but it can cover damaged electronics, cancelled flights and so much more, which can save you considerable money in an emergency.
The opinions expressed in this article are the opinions of the author(s) and not necessarily those of State Custodians.