We know how costly holidays can be, especially with extra expenses such as insurance, eating out, tours and excursions all loaded on top. But saving for a holiday isn’t complicated, and shouldn’t stop you from experiencing the world with your family and friends.
There are hundreds of budgeting hacks online. But to save you time surfing through tips suggesting you share an Air BnB with a nudist in Paris for 22 euros a night, we’ve collated some of our top suggestions below.
As financial planners and advisors, we focus on one thing — helping you live an incredible life by making smart decisions with your money. With that said, here are some of our best ideas to help you save for a holiday and make your travel dollars stretch further.
The saying goes, “the early bird gets the worm,” and it applies to the same degree with this scenario. Start planning as soon as you can and identify areas where you can reduce your expenses. For example, consider cutting your regular coffee order at your local barista. While it doesn’t seem like much, saving $5 a day on your coffee gives you an extra $1,820 to spend on your holiday. If the thought of giving up your daily brew terrifies you, we share many more small changes to help you save here.
Separate your savings
By creating a separate travel savings account, you can trust that every dollar will go towards paying for your holiday and you avoid withdrawing additional cash from your everyday savings account. Plus, you can easily track how much you’re saving which can be incredibly motivating.
As much as we would love to travel to Europe during the summer months, it’s the busiest and most expensive time of the year. Traveling anywhere during the Christmas period can also be costly. To save your pennies, book your holiday for the month before or after peak season so you can still enjoy the weather, but not exceed your budget by doing so. Also note that many countries and some Australian states have different school holiday dates. You’ll potentially steal a bargain if you arrive just after school goes back in your destination.
Save on flights
Flights are one of the biggest holiday costs, but if you’re flexible, you can save a lot of money. Consider traveling outside of business hours, on public holidays or in shoulder seasons. Search flight comparison sites to find the best fares and use reward points where you can.
Select affordable accommodation
As much as we would love to stay in a 5-star hotel, you can still find comfortable and stylish accommodation for half the price if you keep an open mind to options. Before booking a hotel make sure you compare prices across the online hotel booking sites and enquire directly with the hotel as well. Consider alternative accommodation options too. An apartment on Air B&B or a house swap could be a great way to experience life like a local and save you cash. If you’re travelling alone, you could always consider staying at a hostel and meet other solo travellers.
Eat like a local
Try to steer clear of any tourist attractions where travellers crowd the restaurants and eateries. If you do your research, you can find little gems where the locals eat. Not only will you save money, you’ll get a more authentic experience. You’ll be surprised to find that you can discover some of the best food for half the price by simply eating like a local. Avoid hotel restaurants if you can, as they can be costly. Alternatively, rent a house or apartment and prepare some meals yourself. Sourcing ingredients from the local markets can be a lot of fun too.
Steal free meals
Saving for a holiday doesn’t just include airfares and accommodation, but also the meals and snacks you’ll be needing during your travels. Try to find accommodation that offers breakfast or dinner in an all-inclusive package. If you’re travelling with kids, they often offer free meals or even accommodation for children under a certain age — so this will certainly help you save.
Maximise your air points
It’s worth shopping around to see if you can score some free frequent flyer points. With so many reward programs out there matched to services we use every day, including supermarkets, petrol stations and utilities suppliers, it’s easier than ever to accrue points to redeem for free flights and accommodation.
Use a points-earning credit card
You can get huge points bonuses when signing up for a new credit card. Some even reward you with enough air points for an overseas trip! Most come with travel insurance for peace of mind and other bonuses such as lounge access. Be aware that many will waive the annual fee for the first year, but charge a high annual fee thereafter. They often come with strict conditions too, so take time to read the small print. But if you use your credit card wisely and pay off the full balance at the end of the month, you can accumulate points quickly. Points Hacks provides comprehensive, up-to-date credit card comparisons so you can find a card that meets your needs and maximises your points.
Make use of technology
Sites and apps such as SkyScanner, Booking.com and Trip Advisor either provide direct access to flight and accommodation deals, or advice from others on how to find them. Sign up to travel company newsletters and social media channels to snag a special deal. If you frequently visit the same travel booking sites, consider joining their rewards program.
Search for discounts
Before you leave home it’s worth investigating discounts at your destination. You’ll usually find you can save on tours and entrance to attractions if you purchase tickets online in advance. You’ll skip the queues too! You may also find savings by advance purchasing multi-day and combination transport passes. When you reach your destination, flick through tourist brochures for two-for-one deals and discount coupons.
Investigate combined packages
If you can find a package that saves you money by combining flights, accommodation, meals and insurances, then don’t skip out on these great deals. Consider speaking with your local travel agent to help you find these combined packages. You could end up saving more than if you were to make separate purchases.
Set a daily budget
Budgeting for travel includes planning what to do each day and setting a daily budget. This includes factoring in food, activities, excursions, shopping and more. The more prepared you are with how much you’ll be spending each day, the more likely you won’t find yourself having to steal money from another savings account and compromising your other goals.
Use public WiFi
Using your accommodation’s Wi-Fi and searching for free WiFi while you’re out and about will save you money. International roaming plans can be expensive, so consider hooking up to a local WiFi plan if you’ll be using it a lot. A quick tip is to download maps offline so you can still navigate your way around a new city without fearing you’ll exceed your data limit.
Keep a lid on your shopping
While it’s always nice to purchase objects that remind you of your experiences abroad, don’t get carried away. Remember the more you spend on things, the less you have for experiences like future travel. If you have to purchase gifts, try to hit local markets instead of picking up souviners at tourist attractions and airport gift shops. You’ll often find items are much less expensive and more authentic.
While it may be tempting, avoid borrowing money to fund your next break. Interest can add hundreds, or even thousands of dollars to the cost of your holiday. No one wants a debt hangover on thier return home. Plus it’s a fair assumption that if you’re unable to save the money in the lead up to your holiday, you’ll struggle to find the money pay it off after.
How do I plan my travel budget?
Saving for a holiday is as long as you plan accordingly. First, make a list of what’s important to you and research what it will cost. If you don’t have the funds available to cover the cost of the trip, look at ways you can reduce your expenses to save up for it, or consider making compromises. Many online forums have tips and tricks on saving money for your next holiday that can make planning much easier.
How can I keep my cash safe on a trip?
Most hotels and accommodation providers have locked safes in your room to keep your belongings, cash and passport safely locked away. We actually recommend you consider ditching cash and instead carry a travel card. That way, if it gets stolen you can block your card and therefore not risk losing any money.
What are the essential things needed to buy before the trip?
Travel insurance is essential to protect you if things go wrong. If you get sick or are involved in an accident while abroad, medical costs can be in the thousands. Consider Covid insurance too. It’s always a good idea to purchase secure travel luggage and opt for luggage wrapping when you arrive at the airport too.
What should I avoid doing at all costs to prevent going over my budget?
Preparation is key. The team at Financial Spectrum can help you make smarter decisions to save money, so you can have an amazing holiday without breaking the bank.