Holidays are a time to kick back and enjoy. But there are easy ways to spend less without taking away the enjoyment.
Last week, I looked at flights. This week it’s accommodation, transport, the all-important insurance and a few extra tips.
Depending on your trip, its duration and your lifestyle, it often makes sense to book a package through a travel agent and be done with it. It may even save money, especially for family holidays to destinations like the Gold Coast, Bali or Fiji.
The old adage ‘you get what you pay for’ does apply. The cheapest holidays to Fiji, for example, aren’t going to come with luxury accommodation. If you’re out all day on the Gold Coast, it might not matter. But if the intention is lazing beside the pool, it might if that pool is a little grim.
For accommodation, I have very mixed feelings about large international booking sites such as Booking.com and Airbnb.com. They’re super-easy to use and there are some great deals. But their customer service for both travellers and hosts can be shocking.
If you have recommendations from friends, it may pay to book directly with the accommodation and cut out the middleman. Or, as with flight booking, use the big international sites for research then book through websites that come under New Zealand law such as House of Travel’s mixandmatch.co.nz, Flight Centre, Webjet and Jettzy if you can.
Travelling like a local often saves money. Do you need a personalised transfer at international rates? Or a hire car? Inter-city buses in many parts of the world can be quite luxurious and have premium airline-style seats. These can mostly be booked online through sites such as Busbud.com and Rome2Rio.com. Uber, or even better, local ride-share companies, can replace the need for a hire car in many destinations.
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There are many other ways to save money on holiday, but let’s talk travel insurance. If you have it, credit card travel insurance is okay. It’s offered by the same insurance companies, such as AIG, Tower and Allianz, that offer direct policies. Just make sure you “activate” the cover.
For the purpose of this article, I did a deep dive into the ASB Platinum card travel cover. The policy covers all the same things as regular travel insurance. What’s more, anyone with pre-existing conditions can pay to have them covered. For a fair price, the cover can also be extended before you leave from the 90-day limit up to 180 days.
Whether it’s credit card insurance or regular travel insurance, read the policy. We’re off to South-East Asia, which means riding mopeds. Some policies cover that, but others don’t. Interestingly, my credit card travel insurance has no restrictions on riding a moped, whereas many of the cheap stand-alone policies do. The person I’m travelling with has AA Travel Insurance, which requires the rider to have a valid driver’s licence as required in that country, which means an international licence for Laos and Cambodia, and only riding 49cc mopeds in Vietnam. This sort of detail is super-important if you don’t want to spend the rest of your life paying off a $400,000 medical bill.
It’s at this point that I have to admit feeling very hypocritical. I do a lot in my life to try to minimise my carbon footprint, then blow it by going travelling. While researching this article I made contact with Sandra Rosenau, who has a blog: Minimalistjourneys.com.
Rosenau and her partner Paul Ryken gave up the corporate life and are travelling around Indonesia currently. They admit they can’t be perfect. But travelling slowly, using carry-on luggage only, staying in a country for several months at a time, or even a continent a year, using public transport, staying with locals as much as possible and choosing experience providers based on their sustainability efforts lessens their impact on the planet, they point out. The pair have sustainable travel tips at minimalistjourneys.com/sustainable-travel-tips/.
Finally, some other tips for saving money on your travels include: travel off-peak, don’t pay on credit for holidays, look for free activities in your destination, choose accommodation with cooking facilities, even if it’s just to fry an egg, and definitely eat like a local when out.