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10 April 2016

11 Budget Travel Tips

Hey guys,

Travelling can be really expensive. On average, a hotel can be around $200 per night (and that is for the most basic room!), flights can be anywhere upwards of $40 one way, and once your there, you have expenses that can really add up. I am really into being frugal when travelling, so I have worked out eleven handy tips for keeping travel costs to a minimum.

1. Book hotels early for the 'earlybird discount'
Many hotels offer an early booking discount, if you book in advance (often you need to book 30 days prior for this discount). This can cut off around $30 (depending on the hotel) off of the total cost, so it is worth doing. If you know that you are taking a holiday, take advantage of this offer.

2. Compare hotel prices and ask to price match
Often the best way of booking a hotel is by calling the hotel. If you look at all different websites (for example, Wotif, Bookings.com, TripAdvisor, Agoda, Expedia), and find the hotel rate cheaper than what the hotel is offering, you can call up the hotel and ask them if they'll match the price. Usually they will do this, and then you are able to book direct with the hotel, rather than through a third-party site.

3. Don't book flights through a travel agency
Travel agencies usually charge an extra fee (around an extra $20 each way) for having used the travel agency. Instead, book the flight through the airline directly, so you won't have to pay the fee.

4. Look carefully at what method you pay for you flight.
When you pay for the flight, there's quite a few options for payment. If you use a credit card, there's is quite a hefty fee for using it. As an alternative, there is usually an option to pay for it with a direct bank transfer. Make sure you check your payment method, so you can avoid the extra fees.

5. Find out flight sales day, and book that day/time.
Most airlines have a sales day and time. With Jetstar, it is Friday at 6pm - 8pm. If you book during this time, then costs of flights are really cheap (I once got a flight Gold Coast to Sydney for $29!!!)

6. Plan an itinerary to estimate the costs.
If you plan your itinerary, it helps to you estimate the cost of the holiday. You don't have to do it to the extent I do (I plan a minute-by-minute itinerary!!), but if you write down what activities you will do each day, you can get a rough idea of the cost.

7. Use public transport instead of taxis.
Needless to say, public transport is a lot cheaper than taxis. Although public transport is the worst here on the Gold Coast, in the cities (like Melbourne and Sydney), the network is amazing and really convenient to use.

8. Get a local travel card.
This goes with the previous tip. A lot of the major cities have travel cards which are used instead of paper tickets. For example, Gold Coast/Brisbane has a GoCard, Melbourne uses Myki cards, and Sydney uses Opal cards. With these travel cards, you pre-load on money, and then just tap your card on and off when you uses buses, trains, ferries and trams. The travel card is always much cheaper than paper tickets are (for example, from Gold Coast to Brisbane on the train costs $6 with a GoCard, and $20 with a paper ticket. As well as being a lot cheaper, it really is just more convenient to have a card rather than having to buy paper tickets.

9. When booking flights, look at all airlines.
Usually when I book flights I go straight for Jetstar, which is the known "budget airline". However, when I was booking flights to/from the Whitsundays, I found that although it was cheap enough to get a returning flight from the Whitsundays, the flight going there was cheaper with Virgin, which is considered a more "premium airline". Sometimes the premium airlines are surprisingly cheaper, so it is best to shop around before going straight to the budget airline.

10. Try to just take carry-on luggage.
If you can, just take carry-on and not worry about checked. Some airlines don't include any checked, especially if they are domestic flights. I take a small suitcase as carry on, and don't bother with checked. This is not only cheaper, but it saves a lot of hassle at the airport.

11. If you want to go on a tour, see if it is cheaper to go there independently.
When I went to Sydney, I went on a Home and Away Tour. The tour itself was a bit rubbish (they didn't take us anywhere, it was just a maniac bus driver taking three hours to drive us there, then he left us to get on with is). We paid $100 for that tour, so in hindsight it would have been cheaper to catch public transport up there and go there ourselves.

<3

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