TRAVEL experts have revealed their top holiday hacks that could save you a pretty penny when going overseas.
Many Brits maybe thinking about getting away from it all over the Christmas period and instead spending a few weeks in the sun.
As the cost of living crisis continues to bite, travellers will no doubt want to tighten their purse-strings to make some savings.
CHECK WHICH AIRPORT IS CHEAPEST
Many people will simply chose to fly from their nearest airport but as Blake Walsh, a travel expert at Travel Lens, says it is worth comparing prices first.
He said: “Vacation costs can differ when traveling from different airports, so carry out some research to see if you can save money by flying from an airport which isn’t as close to where you live.”
“While you may have to drive a little extra, flight prices could be hundreds of dollars cheaper at the next-closest airport,” said Phil Dengler, co-founder of The Vacationer.
USE A LOCAL CAR SERVICE
“Pre-planning things as much as possible is a great way to save costs,” said Laura Ratliff, senior editorial director at TripSavvy. “For instance, while I used to rely mainly on big global rideshare services in most cities, now I take a few extra minutes to find a local car service wherever I go.”
Using an option like Uber to get around while you’re on holiday may see costs rapidly rise.
The advice is to research other local ride options in the area which may be cheaper.
Ratliff said local car services may also have other benefits.
“Many of them are cheaper, have nicer vehicles, and offer services like pre-scheduled, in-person airport pickups, which can be handy when you’re struggling with lots of luggage or arriving late and want the reassurance that you can safely get to your hotel,” Ratliff said.
PRIORITISE FREE PARKING
Make sure you don’t overlook any related costs if you are driving your own car or renting one.
Extra costs can be occurred if you have to fork out for parking everytime you’re out and about.
She also advised to try to pick a hotel that is in in walking distance of the main sites, restaurants and other amenities, as this not only cuts down on travel time, giving you more time to look around but also reduces expenditure on petrol.
STICK TO PUBLIC TRANSPORT
“Taking public transportation is often much cheaper than getting a taxi or renting a car,” said travel blogger Sean Lau. “It is also a great way to get to know the area and get a better sense of the local culture.”
It is best to check up on the public transport routes beforehand to make sure it is safe and convenient – you may end up having a long walk from the nearest stop to where you actually want to get to.
“Many popular cities offer easy-to-navigate metro systems, as well as widespread bus lines or trams,” said travel blogger Rocky Trifari. “If your route is accessible via public transportation, you can probably get there for a fraction of what it would cost to go directly via taxi.”
STAY IN DIFFERENT ACCOMMODATION
“Consider breaking up your trip by staying in different hotels rather than the same one,” said Sosie Matos, a wealth coach at OneEleven Financial Wellness. “You can sometimes get a better deal and also get to explore more of the area.”
You’ll need to be flexible to benefit from this hack but you could end up making significant savings.
Check out the various hotel options and see how the rates change depending on how long you stay.
“Search different lengths and dates to make sure you’re taking advantage of promotions like third, fourth or fifth night free,” advised Chris Hutchins, a “financial optimizer” and host of the podcast “All the Hacks.”
PICK ACCOMMODATION WITH A KITCHEN
“One of the biggest expenses when traveling is food,” Lau said. “Eating out can get expensive, especially if you’re dining in a touristy neighbourhood.”
Cooking where you are staying can certainly be much cheaper than eating out every night.
Plus, you can have fun shopping around the local stores and supermarkets for groceries.
“I always look for hotels with at least a kitchenette,” Dengler said. “Staying at a hotel with a kitchenette or full kitchen allows you to prepare your meals and avoid high restaurant prices. I save hundreds of dollars on trips by cooking breakfast and lunch in my hotel room or Airbnb and only eating out for dinner.”
LOOKOUT FOR RESTAURANT DEALS
“I always save my fine dining experiences for lunch,” said Jessica van Dop DeJesus, founder and editor at The Dining Traveler. “Most restaurants offer a prix-fixe lunch menu that is much more affordable than the evening menus. I splurge for lunch and then eat at fast-casual places or street food at night.”
If you don’t want the hassle of having to cook, it’s a good idea to hunt around for the best deals and offers.
“A usually pricey restaurant may have a delicious special menu one night of the week or a discounted happy hour menu at a particular time of day that you can uncover with some research and planning,” Ratliff said.
THE BEST TIME TO GO ON HOLIDAY
“I recommend traveling during the destination’s shoulder season,” Dengler said. “That is the time between the peak and the offseason.”
While not everyone will be able to take a break when it suits them, for those that can, it is worth avoiding the peak season which can be late May to early June and then late August to mid-September, so it will still be warm but without all the crowds.
Although be aware different destination will have varying seasonal demand and it is always best to do your research first.
“Not only will it be cheaper for you to fly to the destination, but once you arrive, prices might be cheaper overall,” said travel blogger Esther Susag. “A lot of popular destinations will hike up the prices of their excursions, hotels, and even restaurants during popular months to travel.”
HAVE A CURRENCY CONVERTION CHEAT SHEET
Before you travel, get familiar with the local currency.
“One common behaviour people fall into while traveling is overspending simply because they don’t understand the conversion,” McIntosh said. “When there is a large difference in the conversion rate it can be overwhelming to keep track of and constantly be doing the mental maths of calculations, so many times people just purchase things without thinking of what they are actually spending.”
McIntosh recommends having a “cheat sheet” with the currency conversions in your phone for easy reference and you can then check up on what things actually cost.
“It’s saved me from overspending many times over the years,” McIntosh said. “It’s also very helpful when getting cash out of ATMs, because sometimes the denominations offered are far more than you would need.”
COMPARE CURRENCY EXCHANGES
Make sure you compare the exchange rates offered by various companies to get the best deal.
“If you are traveling to a destination where you have to use a foreign currency, you might be tempted to use a currency exchange,” Lau said. “However, this can often be a costly mistake. Instead, consider using a bank card that offers no ATM withdrawal fees and no international transaction fees while you are abroad.”
BEST DAY TO FLY
“If possible, pick your trip dates based on the cheapest days to fly to your destination,” Dengler said. “Doing so can save you hundreds, if not thousands.”
A good tip is to check Google Flight’s calendar which can help you pick the cheapest dates from a number of airlines.
The day you search and purchase your flights can also make a big difference.
Weekends are often a popular time to fly and so prices can be higher.
“Buy air tickets on Monday or Tuesday between 11pm-12am” recommended finance coach Tatiana Tsoir. “Prices are highest at weekday lunchtime, and sometimes even if you keep checking the same site several times, the prices will go up because your IP address is being recognised. Clear the cookies.”
SET FLIGHT ALERTS
“Flight alerts can be a useful way to help monitor airfare if you have some parameters in mind for your trip,” Trifari said. “For example, if you know you aim to go to a specific destination during certain dates, I would recommend enabling alerts to monitor for price increases and decreases. Not unlike stocks, timing the market can be difficult.”
However, if you hold out from booking your flight, you could face the possibility of prices rising, which can often happen with popular destinations.
But if you are looking to go somewhere less popular, you could save money by waiting until prices fall and then snapping up some tickets.
If you just fancy a trip away but don’t have anywhere particular in mind, you can also set up notifications of trending deals to get yourself a bargain.
“I love using flight services like Scott’s Cheap Flights or Travel Pirates to get notifications for cheap flights, and that can also take out a lot of the work to research and find the best deals,” Susag said.
La Carmina, who is based in Vancouver, noted that she uses YVR Deals, which sends email alerts for cheap fares out of the area.
“Thanks to this head’s up, I got my dad a flight to Hong Kong for around $500 roundtrip, and helped my friends book flights to Australia for under $1,000,” she noted. “Just be sure to book the flights immediately upon receiving the deal alert, as they usually sell out quickly or the price jumps back up within hours to a day.”
LOOKOUT FOR FREE TOURS
“A little time spent researching can save you a lot,” Hutchins said. “The trick is that the travel industry is great at monetising our desire for convenience and simplicity, so you might need to put in a little extra effort, but the returns can be huge.”
This not only applies to flights and accommodation, but also activities like guided tours.
Hutchins said: Tthere are a ton of amazing free tours you can take ― though I do encourage you to tip the tour guide for their services.”
EXPLORE AWAY FROM THE MAIN TOURIST AREAS
“It doesn’t matter where you travel to, if you are in the main tourist area then you will be paying more than you need to,” McIntosh said. “Often times you can easily save money by simply walking a couple of streets outside the centre of town — provided the area is safe to do so, of course.”
This can be particularly useful when looking for somewhere to eat, as restaurants slightly away from the crowds may offer far better value.
“Check out forums and groups for the local community where you’re going,” Tsoir advised. “Ask for their advice on local gems, places to eat and visit beyond the touristy areas. Sometimes those are nice to explore and are cheaper too, while also being spots that reflect the true culture.”
USE COMPARISON SITES
It may also be worth playing around with the destination search to get a great deal.
“One of my suggestions is to look at smaller neighbouring towns, cities, or even countries to fly into instead of some of the major hubs,” said Ben Julius, founder of Tourist Journey. “Sometimes, you’ll find that this saves quite a bit of money, and often provides less of a tourist view of the destination. For example, instead of flying into Milan or Venice, try Verona or Bergamo instead.”
Erika de Santi, a solo travel expert and co-founder of WeRoad, advised using these booking sites as an initial guide.
“Comparison sites can be useful in the research stage of planning your trip,” she explained. “But while they claim to scan every site to bring you the best deals, they often don’t flag those that are specific to an airline or hotel.”
“When I’m ready to book I always prefer to book direct with the airline, so I’ll check on their website, and then I’ll download their app and check the price there too,” said Claire Summers, the travel blogger behind Claire’s Itchy Feet. “This doesn’t work for all airlines but some often do special app-only prices, so it’s worth a try.”
JOIN TRAVEL REWARDS PROGRAMMES
Various credit cards may offer some sort of travel rewards scheme as well as some store cards which it might be worth joining.
Tsoir said: “Points on airline travel and hotels make it significantly cheaper than traveling using money.”
Tsoir also suggested signing up for email lists that share promotional rates and taking advantage of discount programmes you qualify for.
“There are plenty of apps that will help you find live discounts on food and drinks, cheap fuel, and occasional freebies,” said David Woody, a country development and travel expert at Sixt.
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