I am all about saving money when travelling. Well, mainly because I have a habit of booking holidays I can not afford. There is no greater example of this than my second trip to Hawaii, where my friends and I ended up living on boiled pasta teamed with ketchup packets from McDonald’s, because I spent too much of the very limited money I did have at Victoria’s Secret and Ralph Lauren. Oops. It was quite funny. So, if there is a way to save money when booking travel, I am all about it. Here are a few of my favourite tips.
1. Be as flexible as possible
This has already been mentioned in my holiday planning post, but I need to emphasise it again here. Flexibility is key with saving money when travelling. This is true for both flights and accommodation. Literally hundreds of dollars can often be saved by moving dates around a little bit or even adding more stops. Yes, that’s right – adding more destinations to your holiday can sometimes make flights cheaper. If you are willing to be super flexible and frugal, you can even try ‘travel hack’ sites like Tripdelta. And, it goes without saying, but try to avoid peak seasons where possible.
2. Take advantage of ‘price beat/match guarantees’
I know they can sound gimmicky, but they can be a great way to save money on flights and accommodation. The best way to do this is to find the cheapest price possible on any online website for exactly what you want – which will usually be found on a really dodgy website that you would not actually trust to book through. Then, get the price beaten/matched by a reputable company. I have personally done this by booking flights with Flight Centre and have family members who have done it for accommodation with Expedia. We got fantastic prices. Just remember that they will usually only beat/match the exact same thing. However, it is a little known fact that Jetstar in Australia will actually price beat a cheaper comparable fare from another airline by ten percent! That sounds sponsored, but I assure you that nothing in this post is… Although, I am open to it. 😉
3. Scour the internet for coupon codes and sales
It is hard to write this without picturing Honey Boo Boo’s mother, June. However, there is something to be said for coupons. My favourite place to find coupon codes and sales for Australia is OzBargain. Another way is to sign up to the relevant airline and accommodation newsletters, as they will usually email special codes or notify you of sales. I took advantage of a code in one such email when booking a hotel this week! If there is truly a bargain to be had, you need to know about it as soon as possible, as they will not last long. It is worth your inbox being inundated.
4. Be strategic with currencies
Predicting currency fluctuations can be difficult, but it is worth trying and then booking things accordingly. If your currency looks like it might increase in value against that of your destination, I would recommend finding accommodation where you can pay on arrival, as your exchange rate may improve in that time and it will consequently cost you less. If it is decreasing, then try to pay for as much in full as soon as possible. Again, this is always a gamble. Sites like Expedia often give you the choice of paying now or later.
Also, when converting currencies, be sure to shop around to find the best rate. Do not just accept the first offer an exchange broker give you, as they can be very dodgy. Commission fees can also usually be avoided if you are willing to negotiate or use your own bank. Do not wait until you are at the airport to convert your money, as you definitely will not get the best rate there.
6. Continue to shop around for accommodation
Most accommodation will allow you to cancel before your check-in day at no cost. Therefore, even if you have already booked something, you can continue to shop around to see whether you find a better deal. Sales pop up all the time. Just check on the terms of your booked accommodation before cancelling.
7. Consider travelling overnight
If you are travelling around and really want to save money on accommodation, travelling overnight might be a good option. It is easy to save a night’s accommodation by spending it on a bus, plane or train. It also saves you from wasting a day travelling! I have personally done this on both planes and buses and would definitely do it again. Just do not expect to be particularly well-rested in the morning. But there is something exciting about waking up in a new place.
8. Travel light
Given the ever-increasing trend of airlines charging for everything, travelling light can save a lot of fees. In a perfect world, this would best be done by only taking carry-on luggage. Budget airlines tend to charge for all checked luggage, so those extra fees are something you may need to weight up (pun intended). Be aware that some buses and trains also charge for checked luggage.
Hope these tips can help you to spend less and travel more! Of course, there are many more ways to save money, but these are a good starting point.