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Travelling on a budget? Here are seven ways to save on your next holiday

4 min read
20 Sep 2023
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Catriona Rowntree is Compare the Market’s expert for all things travel. As one of Australia’s most travelled women, she is the perfect planning companion for your next holiday.

The cost-of-living crunch has been hard to escape this year and holiday planning is no exception. Everything from the cost of flights to dining out and family attractions has blown our expenses way beyond budget.

It’s a quandary for people who booked holidays months in advance, well before prices were on the rise. Now money may need to be prioritised for energy bills and mortgage repayments.

Compare the Market recently surveyed 1,000 Australians in July and found 45% had cut back on their travel and holiday plans in order to save. Just over a quarter of people (26%) said they would not be taking a holiday during the next 12 months because they couldn’t afford to.

But the good news is that a cheap and cheerful vacation can be just as fun as a luxury getaway. Here are my top cost-cutting tips for budget travellers.

Live like a local

Remember, you don’t need to eat every meal at a fancy restaurant. Head to the local grocer, pack a picnic, embrace the concept of BYO (keep it legal) and head out to a beloved location.

Look for accommodation that offers a kitchenette so you can eat in and make your own teas and coffees. It’s a great way to save and cater for fussy eaters!

Keep in mind that the more “touristy” or popular areas are generally higher priced. Seek out eating spots filled with locals – they often have more authentic local food and lower prices.

Pack a pocket-sized tour guide

Remember, your phone is your friend! These days we are spoilt for choice when it comes to blogs and podcasts about history and cultures around the world.

Just make sure you’ve sorted out your data services so you don’t get saddled with a jaw-dropping roaming bill on your return. Turn your data roaming off before you leave Australia – trust me, I’ve been caught out and it hurts!

Check and see if the local tourism bureau has deals for people visiting multiple attractions, or a weekly/monthly pass for entry.

And when it comes to getting around, see if you can tap into public transport services that may be cheaper and more reliable than taxis and personal transport services like Uber.

Reassess your itinerary

If the month-long getaway you’ve been dreaming of is starting to feel unrealistic, a shorter vacation may be enough to cure your wanderlust. Reducing your itinerary by a week or two could result in big savings.

You may also consider some cheaper destinations or even a domestic holiday to fill your travel cup while flight prices remain sky-high.

If you can, travel in the ‘shoulder season’ – the time either side of peak holidays or ‘high season’. The sights are just as good, not as expensive, and often less crowded.

Save on accommodation

When looking for accommodation always prioritise safety and convenience over luxuries. Check and see whether forgoing a bathtub or buffet breakfast could lead to savings.

And whatever you do, don’t touch the mini bar! It’s always overpriced.

Most popular ways to save, according to Aussie travellers


Feel empowered to save energy

TVs, microwaves and coffee machines can use power while on standby. Make sure you turn off any appliances you won’t be using at the connection point before you go on holiday to avoid electrical mishaps and or a shock with your next energy bill.

You may also consider turning off your water at the mains while you’re away. This could help you avoid big bills, should there ever be a sudden leak. When allowed to run unchecked, leaks can wreck major havoc!

Doing a quick final check, or what I call a “silly check”, is also a helpful way to remember your phone charger – a commonly forgotten item that can cost you $$$ at the airport.

Avoid the currency conversion sting

There’s nothing worse than paying more than you need to because your bank card isn’t loaded with the local currency!

What can start as a few dollars can add up to hundreds if you don’t take a proactive approach. The good news is that many banks now offer “worldwide wallets” to help make payments easy. A couple of weeks before you head abroad, do some research or speak to your bank about your options.

Compare travel insurance!

Use Compare the Market to compare travel insurance prices and make sure you’re not paying more than you need for the cover and features you want.

In the event your luggage is delayed, lost or stolen, travel insurance could also help you save on replacement costs. It could also save you on medical expenses and cancellations. Always read the Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) before you buy travel insurance so you understand what’s included and how much you can claim if the worst happens.

Make your next holiday Simples!

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avatar of author: Catriona Rowntree

Written by Catriona Rowntree

Catriona Rowntree is an Australian travel icon, having hosted Australia’s longest-running travel show, Getaway, for 25+ years. She has travelled extensively around the world and visited over 100 countries, with some incredible stories to tell along the way. Catriona is a wealth of knowledge and is always happy to share travel advice for any destination. When she’s not out on a whirlwind adventure, she loves to spend time with her family on their farm in rural Victoria.

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