Ten top tips to save money on travel
Looking for ideas for how to get the best travel deals?
Here are ten top tips to save money on travel – many of which are used by travel agents on a daily basis to get their clients the best deals. Using a combination of these hacks could easily reduce the cost of your next holiday by 50% or more!
Get an agent
There’s still much debate about whether booking travel online is cheaper than using a travel agent. The fact is you can save money booking through a good agent – in two ways.
Firstly, the travel industry is far from as straightforward as the online world would have you believe, and the tips in this guide on how to get the best travel deals are just the beginning. A good agent will be across all the airfares and deals listed here and more, like free lounge access, side flights and stopover accommodation with certain fares. They are best placed to get you a good deal.
Secondly, agents are paid a commission from airlines, hotels, tour companies and travel insurance providers, and that commission margin means there’s room to move on price (keep in mind that your agent is providing you with their knowledge and service and everyone has to eat!). Try negotiating with your computer and see how far you get!
Master the art of the Stay/Pay Deal
While we’re on the subject, ever wondered how travel agents come up with those amazing package deals for Fiji or popular Asian resort destinations like Bali and Thailand? Simple. They’re based on what’s known in the industry as the Stay/Pay deal, where resorts try and fill rooms outside peak periods by offering a number of free nights when you book a longer stay.
Stay/Pay deals can easily save you up to 50% on your accommodation. Simply email the resort you’re interested in and ask if/when they will be offering a Stay/Pay. Or get your travel agent to do the legwork; they have all the best travel deals at their fingertips.
Try point-to-point air travel to Europe
This equates to travel black magic and those who delve into the dark arts do so at their own risk. But the fact is this tip can save you big dollars on your airfare to Europe. Rather than booking one airfare, try booking your trip as two separate fares. Start with Asia to Europe from a popular hub like Singapore or Bangkok. As there are more airlines flying between Asia and Europe you’ll be amazed at the fares you can pick up.
Once you’ve got that sector safely locked away, you can wait for a sale fare from Australia to your Asian hub.
So far so good, but here’s the ‘but’. Neither airline is obligated to wait for you if things go pear-shaped. Give yourself LOTS of extra time to make the connection. You’ll need to clear customs and collect and recheck baggage in both directions, and satisfy any transit visa requirements.
Look for open jaws and free side flights
Open jawing is another colourful travel industry term that can be helpful for how to get the best travel deals. An open jaw airfare lets you fly into one city and home from another, so you don’t incur the cost of travelling back to the original city for your outbound trip.
For travel to Europe, trying looking for an open jaw fare that also gives you a free side flight. You’ll save even more! So for example, you might be able to fly with British Airways to London, stop-over there for a few nights, then continue on a BA flight to Paris, then fly home from Amsterdam or Rome, all on the same airfare!
Your travel agent is best placed to let you know what options are available.
Enjoy fee-free travel
We all know how it feels. You get back from an overseas holiday to find your bank statement peppered with bank charges, ATM and currency conversion fees. $2.50 here, $5 there. It all adds up.
One solution is the Citibank Plus Transaction Account, which offers a fee-free debit card service from affiliated ATMs overseas.
Book mixed business/economy to Europe
If you’re getting to that age where 14 hours sitting upright on a plane is just not kosher, then a mixed business/economy fare to Europe may be just the discounted ticket. Fly economy on the shorter sector from Australia to Asia, and then stretch out in business from Asia to Europe.
These fares can be anywhere up to 50% cheaper than a full business class ticket, which will lessen the pain on your wallet as much as your back and hips.
Take advantage of 2-for-1 tours and fly-free deals
We’re noticing more tour companies offering 2 for 1 deals or fly-free offers on destinations as diverse as Europe, Africa, Asia and South America. Sounds like a great way to save on what can actually be fairly expensive destinations.
So grab a travel partner, make a pact that when the right deal arrives you’ll be ready to act, and sign up for the tour company’s e-newsletter or join their Facebook page. You’ll get info on the best travel deals as they are released.
Be sharing and caring
The sharing economy has well and truly arrived in the travel sphere. airbnb lets you save on hotels by renting out someone’s apartment or spare room, Uber saves you money on taxi fares and you can even rent someone’s private vehicle and beat the conventional hire car model with DriveMyCar.
It’s worth double-checking what your travel insurance does and doesn’t cover in this realm. Also realise that not everyone you’ll meet in the process is embracing this brave new world (for example you may get a frosty reception from residents at apartment blocks where short term lets are frowned upon).
Otherwise sharing is caring and a great way to save!
Investigate the ‘mini’ round world airfare
This is another closely guarded secret of the travel agent world, but we’re letting the cat out of the suitcase. If you’re looking for ideas on how to get the best travel deals on round world flights, there are three airlines that offer a considerably cheaper ‘round world’ ticket than either One World or Star Alliance. Finnair, Swiss Air and Lufthansa offer a fare that allows you to fly various airlines from Australia to Asia, pick up the European carrier from Asia to Europe (via their hub city of Helsinki, Zurich or Frankfurt).
You can then fly back through the hub city to South America or North America and pick up another affiliated carrier home to Oz.
It also works in the opposite direction.
These fares are not as versatile as the traditional round world alliances and you can only fly to/from cities on the Finnair, Swiss Air and Lufthansa networks. But if you can make them work for you, these fares can be up to 50% cheaper than traditional round worlds. Talk to your travel agent for more details.
This might seem like an obvious one when you think about it, but few of us really consider it when planning our travel. Go where the tourists aren’t and you’re guaranteed to save. Regional destinations are nearly always significantly cheaper to travel to than major city centres.
So again, as an example, if you’re heading for the UK, reduce the number of nights you plan to stay in London and head out into the glorious English countryside, perhaps to Devon and Cornwall or North Yorkshire and Cumbria.
You’ll save big dollars on every aspect of your trip, and you’ll enjoy some amazing hospitality as part of the deal!
Do you have any suggestions to add to this list of ten top tips to save money on travel? We would love to hear from you. Please leave us a comment.
Additional images: Bigstock
About the writer
Adam Ford is editor of The Big Bus tour and travel guide and a Melbourne-based travel TV presenter, writer, blogger and photographer. Adam has travelled extensively through Europe, Asia, North America, Africa and the Middle East. He worked as a travel consultant for a number of years with Flight Centre before taking up the opportunity to travel the world himself as host of the TV series Tour the World on Network Ten. Adam also appears regularly as a travel commentator on Sky News Business Class. He loves to experience everything a new destination has to offer and is equally at home in a five-star Palazzo in Pisa or a home-stay in Hanoi.