Thursday 18 January 2024

Ten tips to save for your next holiday

This is a collaborative post

When was the last time you had a holiday? 

If the answer is 'too long' then maybe it's about time you had one!

That is all well and good if you have the money to pay for a trip away. But if you don't then you are going to have to start saving for one. 

If you are dreaming of visiting Paris in the springtime, lazy sunshine days on a Caribbean beach, a canal tour in Bruges or an exciting off-road adventure in the outback of Australia, here are ten ways you can save money to fund your next holiday.

1. Decide where to go

According to the United Nations there are over 250 different countries and territories in the world. Although some of them are off-limits to certain nationalities, essentially, in terms of travel, the world is your oyster.

If you already know where you want to go, you can start to budget for your trip (more on that shortly). However, if you are open to visiting anywhere in the world, one of the best ways to save money on the cost of your next holiday is to be selective about where you want to go.

As a general rule countries like the UK, Japan, Norway, Sweden and Denmark are much more expensive to visit than the likes of Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. Therefore, if you choose to go somewhere like Hanoi, Vientiane or Phnom Penh, as opposed to London, Tokyo, Oslo, Stockholm or Copenhagen, you could literally save yourself thousands of dollars from that one decision.

Camper van driving through national park
Photo credit Dino Reichmuth via Unsplash

2. Decide how long to go for

If choosing where you want to go is a good way to save money, then so is determining how long you want to go for. It follows that the longer you want to stay in a destination the more money you will spend there on accommodation, food and  other daily costs like sightseeing. 

In this regard, it is important to remember that you are going on holiday to have a good time, relax and refresh your mind from the vigour of your daily life. However, you should also try and strike the balance between visiting a place long enough for you to feel this way and not letting your costs blow out due to holidaying for too long. After all, you probably won't spend as much on a 17 day holiday as you might on a 21 day vacation.

3. Formulate a budget

Once you have decided on where you are going to go on holiday and how long you will go for, the next thing to do is to devise a budget. While this might seem like a drag or extra, unnecessary work, doing this is a crucial step in actually saving money.

It is hard to save without a purpose. So, ostensibly, when you create a budget, you are actually informing yourself of what you are saving for. For this reason, consider all aspects of your trip, from booking insurance, transport and accommodation to the cost of food, admission to certain attractions and spending money at the shops.

For sure, it will require discipline, but if you do this, you’ll soon come up with a figure of the amount of money you need to enjoy your holiday without breaking the bank. 

The prospect of saving money can be daunting. So, once you have settled upon an amount - which must include a contingency sum – you should divide the number of weeks you have before your departure date by that figure, to determine how much you need to save each week on average.

For instance, if you are going on holiday in 50 weeks' time and you need $4000 for your trip, you will need to save on average $80 a week.

4. Open a separate holiday savings account

Knowing how much you need to save and actually doing so are two different things. But a good tactic is to open up a new bank account specifically for your savings.

It is harder to keep track of your savings if they are in an account where money is constantly going in and out of it. Therefore, it is worth opening a separate one to protect every dollar you put away.

You’ll be surprised how motivating it can be to see the balance grow on a regular basis. Moreover, this calculator will help you track and project how much more you will save if you put the money into an account that offers interest.

5. Spend Less Before Holiday

Once your holiday account is up and running, you should make every effort to spend less on a weekly basis before your vacation than you otherwise would do.

Ask yourself if you need to pay for a large latte every day or if you can space out paying for the painting of your nails every six weeks as opposed to four. Equally, is it worth going out and spending money on takeaways and alcohol, or would you rather have that money for your holiday.

This strategy can work pretty well if you plan to go away in only a few week's time, as you might find yourself saving a decent amount that you would have otherwise spent.

However, if your travel date is a longer period away, you will need to balance sacrificing activities, where you would normally spend a sizable amount of money, on your needs, wants and against not being a hermit.

6. Book off-peak

For many people, when they can travel on holiday is dependent on their work, parental or educational commitments. So, they might not have a choice of when they can schedule their holiday.

However, if you have the freedom to determine your preferred period of departure, then it is always worth travelling off peak. Generally speaking, off-peak times are when children are in school and the nearest religious holiday like Christmas or Easter is a reasonable distance away. If you can pick these times - for instance in the winter months like May to August in Australia - you'll find pretty much everything is cheaper at that time of year.

If you are planning to visit overseas, be aware of local religious holidays or major sporting or cultural events that might drive prices up during that time.

7. Use Your Rewards Programme

Are you a member of rewards programmes offered by credit card companies, airlines, hotels or institutions like RACQ?

Well if you are, you can leverage the points you have accrued with them to potentially save money on various aspects of your trip while you are away.

If these programmes are based around credit card usage, just be mindful to pay off the balance of every purchase you make on them straight away.

Two children on a sunny beach
Photo credit Vitolda Klein via Unsplash

8. Save on Transit Costs

For many overseas travellers, the cost of flights will be the biggest single cost of their holiday. However, if you are flexible you should be able to save quite a bit of money.

For instance, travelling first thing in the morning or last thing at night can save a lot of money, as can doing so on a Tuesday or Wednesday and not on the weekends. Additionally, making multiple stops, as opposed to direct flights might not be ideal, but it could help to save you a tidy sum (and reduce jet lag if you do it strategically!)

There are plenty of flight comparison sites you can search to get you to your overseas destination. Moreover, once you are at your holiday destination, you may well find it is cheaper to book internal flights in that country, rather than in your home country, prior to your departure. So, it might be an idea to delay doing that if your plans can be fluid.

9. Reduce Accommodation Costs

After flights, the cost of accommodation is probably the biggest expense you'll face. While you might want to stay in an upscale boutique hotel, to save money, you should consider cheaper options like Airbnb, motels, hostels and campsites. Another terrific option if you own a property is house swapping, which means it won't cost you anything at all.

It is worth noting that accommodation prices in cities, particularly near popular tourist attractions, tend to be much more expensive than those in the suburbs or outskirts of them. Therefore, it might be a good idea to book somewhere a little out of the way, that will require you to commute. (Don't knock doing this, it is a clever way to see places beyond your holiday destination!).

10. Determine Food Options

Food can be another cost that spirals whilst on holiday. For this reason, it is a good idea to eat where locals eat. These places tend to be much cheaper than those that cater to tourists. Often the food is more authentic too!

As a general rule, the cost of breakfasts and lunches are much cheaper than dinners. So, consider having your main meal earlier during the day and self-catering for dinner. If you manage to book accommodation that has cooking facilities then all the better.

Another good way to save money on food is to look for special offers and to check out forums online where other travellers might be able to give good recommendations.

11. Make Extra Money

As well as saving money and spending less, why not try and make more money? That way you will be able to save even more and possibly spend even less as you’ll be too busy working!

If you are handy you can pick up odd jobs such as garden work, washing cars or fixing things around the house. Alternatively, if you have a skill like copywriting or web design you can look for extra work on sites like Upwork. There are also usually plenty of roles delivering leaflets or you can even set yourself up as an Uber Eats delivery driver.

Should you own your property, think about renting it out on platforms like Air bnb. Depending on where you live you can make a good amount of money, particularly if hotels are expensive in the area. Potentially, you might even be able to generate more revenue than you spend whilst you are away!

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