Oily Rag: Bargain your way to holiday savings

By Frank, Muriel Newman

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Accomodation has been in the news recently so we thought we would come up with some ways of saving money when away from home, but first, here is a pest query and some new tips from our Oily Rag website.

Marie from Kawerau has a problem keeping pesky white butterflies and insects away from her vege garden. If you have a low or no-cost solution to Marie's problem, she would love to hear from you. Contact us at www.oilyrag.co.nz.

BB from Napier has this tip: "If you have leftover buns, freeze them. When ready to use, quickly run them under water and place in a hot oven for 10 minutes. Outsides crisp up and the insides are soft just like freshly baked buns. Sounds crazy but it really works."

AK from Carterton says, "I hang my newly washed shirts on coat hangers on the line and then, if ironing is even necessary, it's a breeze."

Now, to accommodation matters. MP John Banks recently offered some advice to those wanting to save some money when travelling. He told a reporter, "I always negotiate prices down, I don't believe in paying the rack rate in a hotel".

That's excellent advice. If you are staying at a hotel or motel, even if it happens to be one of the best in Hong Kong, you should always haggle to get the price down. Hotels and motels do have flexible pricing and there are lots of ways to get a better deal.

You could simply ask if the hotel is currently running any "promotions or packages" (that's a nice way of asking for a discount).

If you have a business card, you could ask for what's called "a corporate rate". Sometimes they will fob you off, but often they are only too happy to sharpen their pencil and give you a deal. If you are a regular customer then you should certainly receive a discount.

Shop around online. Check the websites of your favourite hotel chains. They may have some online promotions. Have a look at www.lastminute.co.nz - it does not need to be a last-minute booking to get a deal; you can often book weeks in advance. One oily ragger recently booked a hotel in Tauranga at $89 instead of the normal room rate of $120. That's a saving of $31 - a 25 per cent discount.

Here are a few other ways to reduce accommodation costs when travelling:

Couch surfing: Did you know there is a network of couch swappers? There are thousands of couches available in New Zealand. It works a bit like a social networking site. You put up your profile, say you have a couch available and people make contact and sleep on your couch when they are passing through on their travels. And you can use any one of the members' couches when you are cruising around overseas. Have a look at www.couchsurfing.org.

Or what about house swapping? It's a great way to get cheap accommodation and have someone look after your house while you are away. There are lots of online house swapping sites that connect houses. One reader writes: "If you swap with family members then you don't have to advertise and you will know that your place will be looked after."

Another reader picked up a bargain on their holiday accommodation by visiting holidayhomes.co.nz and holidayhouses.co.nz. "We have saved thousands in accommodation. Just think ... a house right on the beach ... all your family ... sleeps 12 for around $170 a night. That's $14 per person, per night."

Frank and Muriel Newman are the authors of Living Off the Smell of an Oily Rag in NZ. Readers can submit their oily rag tips on-line at www.oilyrag.co.nz.

- Hamilton News

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