Cheap holiday ideas

summer pigHow to have a MoneySmart holiday

Planning for a holiday can be exciting but it's easy to get discouraged once the costs start adding up. Here are some MoneySmart ideas to make your holiday budget go further.

How to get the best travel deals

Start your holiday planning by using online flight and accommodation booking sites that offer deals from a variety of airlines and hotels. They are a great way to shop around and compare prices.

These sites often release deals via their social media channels and enewsletters. Make the most of these opportunities by following them on Twitter or Facebook or signing up to be alerted about their special offers.

If you frequently visit the same travel booking sites, consider joining their rewards or membership program.

Save on flights

Flights are usually one of the biggest travel costs but if you can be flexible with your dates, or the time of day that you fly, you can save lots of money.

You will also save money on flights if you travel:

  • before 8 am or after 8 pm
  • on Wednesday (typically the least expensive day to fly in Australia)
  • on public holidays such as Christmas Day or New Year's Day
  • in shoulder or off seasons.

During the off season, not only will the flights be cheaper but there will be fewer tourists and better deals on accommodation.

When choosing a destination, make sure you look at what local events are happening at the same time you want to go. These can drive up the cost of flights as well as everything else while you're there.

Save on accommodation

When it comes to hotels, if you find one you like but the deal on a comparison site isn't within your budget, call the hotel and see if they can offer you a better deal. They may offer a discount for staying multiple nights.

You can also save money if you're happy to consider other accommodation options. Think about booking an apartment or cabin. They are often less expensive than a hotel room.

Other wallet-friendly ideas include farm stays, youth hostels and holiday parks. Often venues such as holiday parks have offers for returning visitors if you book for the same time next year before you leave.

House swap

If you live in a popular area, join a home exchange site. For an annual fee, you can list your home and gain access to a database of other members' homes worldwide to arrange a swap. You can save a lot of money this way, and you'll get a better feel for a place by living like a local.

Go with a group

To take advantage of group discounts, team up with family or a few friends and go to the same destination together. For families or groups, renting an apartment or house can be a lot cheaper than paying for the same number of beds in a hotel.

Saving for a holiday

It's much better to save as much as you can for your holiday before you leave, so you don't have to rely as much on your credit card.

We have more tips on how to start saving for a holiday.

Our TrackMyGOALS app can help also help you save for a holiday.

TrackMyGoals

Do a budget

Before you start planning holiday activites, work out your budget.

If you have children, this is also a good time to discuss budgeting with them by getting them involved in working out how much activities will cost.

You could set a daily or weekly spending limit and then ask your children to work out a budget for activities that are priced within that limit.

Paying off travel debts

If you already have debts from a previous holiday, see how to get out of travel debt for a plan to pay down your debt.

Travel insurance

Nothing ruins a holiday more than lost luggage, illness or an accident. Before you take off, spend a little extra time selecting the right travel insurance so it's easier and quicker to sort out problems if something goes wrong.

Find out more about travel insurance.

Cheap things to do on holiday

Here's how to cut costs once you've reached your destination.

Track your spending

Our TrackMySPEND app as a holiday budget planner.

TrackMySpend

Get connected

Visit tourist information centres to get local information packs or advice on how you can maximise your stay and not spend too much.

It also pays to be friendly and chat with the locals. They are likely to tell you about affordable places to eat and give you tips on free of cheap entertainment options.

Discount tickets

Before you leave on your trip, look up the cost of museums, gallaries and public transport to see if you can get daily, weekly or combination passes for a discounted price.

When you get to your destination, pick up tourist brochures and magazines and scour through them. They may have two-for-one deals and discount coupons such as 'kids eat for free', 'free entry before 6 pm' and other cheap tickets.

If you're 60 or older, you can sometimes access cheap tickets, meals or transport at your holiday destination. It doesn't hurt to ask, even if senior discounts aren't advertised.

Sightseeing on foot

When you're sightseeing, walk to as many places as possible. Walking is great exercise and it's also a chance for you to see the city up close and take pictures.

You're also more likely to come across free entertainment such as buskers and street artists.

Save on food

To save on food, rent a house or apartment and do your own cooking. Not eating out three times a day will save you a bundle and shopping for the ingredients is a great way to discover the local markets and experience a place and its cuisine.

Even if you don't have a kitchen at the place you're staying, you can always head out to the park and have a picnic or BBQ. Then you can save any leftovers for breakfast the next day.

If you decide to eat out, why not go out for lunch instead of dinner? Lunch menus are usually much cheaper than evening menus.

If you are travelling in Australia, you can usually get good, low cost meals at bowling clubs and RSLs. You can also try visiting a shopping centre food court near closing time and grab some food for a fraction of the cost.

Holiday tips from our Facebook community

Our Facebook page has great tips from our community about how to save money when planning your next holiday.

Going on a holiday doesn't have to break the bank. If you plan ahead and do as many free or cheap things as you can, you'll be able to have a truly affordable holiday with no travel debt hangover.


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Last updated: 12 Apr 2016