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Helen Baker: How to save money on your holiday

A money expert has spilled her secrets for holidaying on a budget as thousands prepare for their first big trip after lockdown. 

Helen Baker, a licensed Australian financial adviser and author of the new book ‘On Your Own Two Feet: The Essential Guide to Financial Independence for all Women’, says Aussies don’t need to break the bank in order to treat themselves.  

‘Holidays are meant to be fun and relaxing – if you blow your budget, you end up more stressed than before you left,’ she said.

‘Follow these tips for holidays on a budget to avoid coming home to a nasty debt pile.’

A money expert has spilled her secrets for holidaying on a budget as thousands prepare for their first big trip after lockdown

1. Plan ahead: Where can you go?

It’s always a good idea to plan ahead. But in COVID times, planning takes on new importance. As we’ve seen, the situation can change quickly with restrictions and border closures.

Consider:

– Not just where do you want to go, but where can you go?

– Which places are most popular? You can stretch your budget further and support local businesses by going somewhere quieter.

– Do you need to quarantine at your destination or on your return? Or both? Or get stuck in a ‘bubble’ change? If so, that adds to your costs and the amount of leave you will need.

– Do you have a back-up destination in mind?

Planning ahead could save you a small fortune and help avoid your relaxing getaway becoming a stressful nightmare.

Do you need to quarantine at your destination or on your return? Or both? Or get stuck in a 'bubble' change? If so, that adds to your costs and the amount of leave you will need

Do you need to quarantine at your destination or on your return? Or both? Or get stuck in a ‘bubble’ change? If so, that adds to your costs and the amount of leave you will need

2. Book in advance and contact operators directly 

This is another reason planning is so valuable – you can book ahead and lock in cheaper rates. Even a 5 per cent discount saves you $250 on a $5,000 holiday.

Can a travel manager assist you with itinerary savings? Comparison sites are useful but try contacting operators too – they may offer better prices or free upgrades for booking with them directly. 

Also, booking ahead means you should miss out on disappointments – for example, campervans and caravans are hugely popular right now, but demand is outstripping supply.

3. Protect yourself – consider travel insurance

Explore what you can do to safeguard your travel budget in case things go wrong, including COVID outbreaks, general sickness, accidents and natural disasters.

Ensure that you can cancel or alter bookings without incurring extra charges. This goes for any flights, accommodation, vehicle rentals, equipment hire, tours and so on. 

Also consider getting travel insurance but read the fine print carefully – is COVID/public health restrictions covered by the policy? What costs are and are not insured? Is every member of your family covered? Is there a cap on how much can be claimed? 

Hopefully you won’t need to use these, but you’ll be really thankful for having them if you do.

Explore what you can do to safeguard your travel budget in case things go wrong, including COVID outbreaks, general sickness, accidents and natural disasters

Explore what you can do to safeguard your travel budget in case things go wrong, including COVID outbreaks, general sickness, accidents and natural disasters

4. Spend points not cash

All that shopping online while in lockdown and paying with cards instead of cash means those credit card points will have accumulated quickly.

You could redeem those points to pay for part or all of your trip. The same goes with any unused frequent flyer points from previous holidays or work jaunts. Use them where you can get the most value. 

For instance, many schemes offer better value if you spend points on goods or services instead of redeeming them for cash.

Does a family member, colleague or friend have travel bank credits that are about to expire that they are not going to use? Can you do a deal to use them at a discount rather than they lose the credit completely?

5. Claim COVID incentives

This year, most state and territory governments are offering incentives to support local hospitality and tourism businesses. Why not take advantage of these and holiday close to home?

It’s essentially free money, and every little bit that doesn’t come out of your pocket is a welcome relief, especially at Christmas time. 

Check the eligibility criteria to see where they are valid. And don’t forget to claim for everyone – some incentives are available to each adult within your household.

Wherever possible, take everything you need with you to minimise your spending while you're away

Wherever possible, take everything you need with you to minimise your spending while you’re away

6. Take what you need

It may be quite a while since you last got to enjoy a holiday away, so don’t forget that everything is more expensive in holiday destinations.

Wherever possible, take everything you need with you to minimise your spending while you’re away. 

That includes clothes for all occasions, toiletries, incidentals like sunscreen and insect repellent, as well as any sporting gear you may need. 

If you have space, consider taking food too for picnic lunches and breakfasts on the go.

7. Have your kids earn spending money

Let’s face it – you’ll be paying for your kids’ holiday adventures anyway. But you can teach them the value of money by having them earn their spending money beforehand. Weight the value of jobs against their degree of difficulty. 

Have them start now to save those dollars over time, rather than a mad dash days before you leave. 

Not only does it help you spread the cost of your holiday over several months, but you also get some odd jobs around the house done for you!

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