Tips for Saving Money when Travelling Abroad
When it comes to foreign travel it’s all too easy to spend a fortune nowadays, with thousands of companies out there ready to take your money from you as soon as you’re out of your comfort zone. Fortunately there are ways to reduce the amount of money that you spend when you go on holiday, and most of these methods require little more than some careful planning before you go.
Scheduled flights to certain destinations can be very pricey. Sometimes it’s cheaper to book a package holiday to the same destination, as these have the flights included and often at a fraction of the cost. There’s no obligation to stay at the hotel just because you’ve paid for it. Use your credit card when booking flights as this will offer extra protection in the event that they are cancelled.
Many people get so caught up in their pre-holiday plans so much, that they dedicate hardly any time at all to one of the most costly items – foreign currency. As a result they end up using their normal credit card or – even worse – exchanging their money at the airport before they fly. This results in eye-watering currency conversion fees that can easily be avoided. Buy your foreign currency at least a few days before you travel so that you have time to shop around for the best possible rate. Better still, consider getting an overseas spending card. The rates are often unbeatable and it saves all of the aggravation of carrying large amounts of cash around with you throughout your holiday.
As a side note, if ever you are given the choice of whether you wish to pay in your home currency, or the local currency to where you are, it is almost always cheaper to choose the local currency as there will be no over-inflated exchange fees.
Most Australians have a good grasp of English(!), but if you don’t know your way around or speak the language, then you may consider buying maps of phrase books to help you get by. However you can get free apps that will not only turn your smartphone into an international satnav/gps for over 100 different countries, but will also allow you to translate 52 different languages offline. Just remember to download these apps using your Wi-Fi before you travel, so you don’t get any unexpected data roaming bills.
If you intend on hiring a car for your holiday, then arranging it before you travel will almost always save you money. As a general rule, the earlier you book your car hire, the more money you will save. Not only that, but booking in advance will help to ensure that you can get the most practical and economical car available, and it will also mean that you can drive from the airport to your destination instead of forking out for costly airport transfers. When you hire your car, be sure to check that you understand the fuel policy. Many car hire companies provide you with a full tank of fuel, and then request that you return the car empty. This means that any fuel remaining in the tank when you return that car is a waste of your money.
It is important that you shop elsewhere and in advance for car hire excess insurance.
Be wary of high insurance excess amounts, as this will mean that even the smallest scratch will probably cost you dearly. A lot of car hire companies sell ‘excess insurance’ which will mean that you don’t have to pay the excess should you return the car damaged, but this can also sting your wallet. It is recommended that you shop elsewhere and in advance for car hire excess insurance.
When it comes to packing your cases, remember that less is more. Virtually all airlines give you a weight limit for your luggage, and this limit seems to be reduced each year. It’s far more cost-effective to budget for one or two trips to the launderette when you’re on holiday than it is to bring twice as many clothes and pay for excess baggage. It’s also worth finding out in advance whether items such as towels and hairdryers are provided at your destination, so you do not pack them unnecessarily. Many airlines let you take infant and child car seats and buggies for free, so check whether this is the case before you travel. Remember that your luggage allowances will be the same for both the outbound and the return flight, so always factor in the weight of anything that you wish to bring back.
When it comes to toiletries you may be tempted to buy special travel-sized items from the supermarket. If you’re serious about making your money go further then these are a false economy. Travel products may be slightly cheaper than their full size counterparts, but in terms of unit cost you could be paying up to three times as much. Just because there are weight limits on your luggage, it doesn’t mean that there is a size limit, so it doesn’t matter if you bring full size toiletries with you – you can always continue to use them when you return home.
If you’re using a budget airline it is always a good idea to check in online, as some budget airlines now charge a substantial fee just for checking in at the airport. By checking in online you can be sure that it is free, and it will also save you time queueing when you’re at the airport.
If you need any accessories such as travel pillows, eye masks or Australian plug adaptors, then it’s always a good idea to purchase these before you get to the airport. The airport will almost always stock such items, but they can cost up to five times more than in high street stores. The same goes with refreshments. Although there are strict limits on the quantity of liquids you can take through airport security, there is no limit on the amount of food you can bring with you. By preparing in advance and taking your own food with you, you can avoid paying through the nose for unhealthy junk food when you board the plane.
When you book a holiday it is a good idea to let your bank know your intended travel dates as well as your destination. This will prevent your overseas spending activity from being flagged as fraudulent in the event that you do use your credit or debit card abroad, so that you won’t have any trouble accessing your money while you’re out there.