Josh Martin is a London-based Kiwi journalist.
OPINION: Despite my arguments to the contrary, my other half, boss and bank manager all agree that holidays are not essential spending. Transport? Yes. Travel? Not so much.
So as inflation rates spike around the globe, it’s fair to assume that non-essential spending will come under scrutiny by households looking to tighten belts.
Sure, the most obvious answer to those looking to control costs is simply “don’t go” and most on the breadline never do, but for those looking to squeeze as much value from a trip away, and keeping the bean counters happy, I ‘ve rounded up the latest and greatest money-saving tips for your next trip.
* Fare-ly flexible: The best airlines to book with in these uncertain times
* A traveler’s guide to getting the best deal
Who’s still got credits?
There are millions of dollars tied up in airline, hotel and tour agency credits… and you can bet they want you to forget about when they expire. Incorporate as many as you can into your next trip abroad.
This is a biggie. It’s not just your destination choice, time period, or airfare deal that will play a big part in your overall spend, but also where, and how, you choose to stay. Accommodation will, in many cases, outstrip the cost of your flights for a long holiday, but we don’t tend to stress about value on this as much as we do airfares (which we have far fewer options).
Yes, yes, you’ve heard it before, but peak season means peak prices, and you don’t have to move dates far to get the shoulder season benefits. In Europe, July and August are peak, but weather is still hospitable in May and September, and come in winter for a completely different, Advent experience altogether.
Expectations can be expensive
If you travel with your mind open, your wallet will stay closed. Expectations being high, you’ll book in peak season, stay in the fancy part of town, only eat this this thing from thing this exact place. Spontaneity has its perks: If you Google Flight search’Everywhere’ as your destination, and plug in dates that suit, you’ll be surprised the deals that pop up.
Cash and card strategy
Thou shalt not get foreign exchange at an airport kiosk, for starters. Prepaid foreign exchange cards can act like a holiday savings account properly and are secure while you travel, but if you’re withdrawing cash with a normal bank card the various fees add up , so pool together and then divvy it up.
Your checked bags (and even sometimes your carry-on) is sadly no longer bunched in with your flight price on many airlines nowadays, but that doesn’t mean that every person in your family or group should pay for 23kgs of luggage. Team up , split the baggage bill.
Alerts on flights
I’ll avoid the (incorrect) advice about booking on a Tuesday or flying midweek to secure the beast airfare. In truth there are too many factors. Instead, airfare comparison sites like Skyscanner, Kayak and Google Flights let you set up an alert for a route and price point, and will email you when deals drop below it on your preferred dates.
Location, location, location
It’s not worth saving $ 10 a night staying 2km away from where the action is if your party has to take taxis, trains or buses several times a day to eat and sightsee, so weigh up if extra space or amenities (eg a kitchen) is worth When it comes to choosing the actual destination, match the designated’chilled out’ days in your itinerary with places where it’s cheap to park up, rather than showstoppers like Santorini, New York, Hong Kong etc.
No such thing as a free lunch
Paying for three meals a day can really eat into your daily budget. This is where being smart with your accommodation can pay off, having dinner in, trying to recreate a local favorite or embracing street food at night can connect you to a location, and opt for your one meal out to be lunch – same high quality grub at a pocket-friendly price. If you’re a real foodie, act like a pensioner and eat early through apps like FirstTable to get big discounts on your bill.
If public transport options don’t work for your schedule, try crowd-sourced carpooling websites like BlaBlaCar where your fee for a seat in a ride covers just the fuel.
It’s not just foreign exchange rates that are terribly priced in an airport, nearly everything in these hubs has a huge mark-up. I challenge you to find me good value anything at an airport. Get in, get out with as few transactions as possible ..
Tours can be a great way to meet people, learn more about a specific topic or area and cram a few disparate activities into one or more days… they can also be a glorified mini-bus journey with very little value add.
Read reviews and assess what you’re getting aside from transport. In many cases (Champagne from Paris, etc come to mind), it can be far cheaper to use local trains and buses to recreate the itinerary at a fraction of the cost.