Leaving on a jet plane – Tips to saving on travel

In celebration of my vacation I thought what better way to do it than reveal a few tried and tested tips to how I save on travelling!

Alas this will not be your typical travel hacking post where I point out a great credit card and say go apply for this card and you will get a hundred thousand airline points to fly anywhere in the world.

Being a single woman with minimal expenses means that most of the time this kind of deal would not be cost effective for me.  Also I live in Australia which means I am not spoiled for choice.  Frankly there’s not enough competition on that front.

Maybe being positioned near the bottom of the world is a factor too, burning more jet fuel and all.

However my motto is to always be on the lookout for a good deal.  Something may eventually come up but if you don’t look for it then you’ll never find it.  For now please see a few tips below.  It won’t save you thousands of dollars but it will save you enough to be happy with.

Setting a budget

Now I know some may be looking at this word and thinking nasty thoughts.  However let me make this clear.  Having a budget is a must.  That way you you can start to source the best deals contained within this budget.

From how much your price point will be on airline tickets to the costs of your hotels/hostels and excursions.

You can allow for a little flexibility but at the end of the day setting a budget and sticking to it is key to not breaking the bank.

Then let your fingers do the walking

If you Google it,  it will come. At the risk of sounding cliched yes google is your best friend in seeking out great deals.

Subscribe to airlines for their flight specials.  This is the easiest source by far.  All you have to do is give your email address, and the airlines sell it to you.  It may be good marketing but it also means you get the specials as soon as they become available.  

Be diligent, check all the time once a destination and timeframe has been determined and don’t let emotion rule because you may sacrifice a great deal for an average one.

Setting your daily spend

Deciding my daily spend on travel, it’s sole purpose is to cover eats and incidentals because I’ve already sourced the best price for accomodation, excursions and flights via the above.

In this instance I am taking $500 of foreign currency ($300 USD $200 CAD).

Before you shake your head in disbelief let me explain below:

Firstly taking this amount means I will stick to it.  No overseas atm fees thank you very much! Being charged fees to withdraw my own money is something I loathe with a passion.

Secondly I don’t need much cash when I have prepaid for most excursions.

Thirdly if I get robbed I lose $600 AUD (at the current rate of exchange).  A lot of money yes but not enough to be disturbed over.  Though I am sure being robbed will be plenty to be disturbed over, I would most likely be angrier at the prospect of incurring unnecessary fees than anything else.

And please don’t think this is not something that I have simply pulled out of a hat.  It’s how much I took to Hawaii and I took a little bit less when I went to the LA, Las Vegas and San Francisco earlier this year.

It can be done if one is strict with themselves!

Exchanging foreign currency

Banks are not the only place to exchange your money.  Just so you know.

Many moons ago I wandered my way into the bank to buy my foreign currency.  The teller gave me a quote and a timeframe to pick up my cash then suggested ever so subtly there was a better alternative a few shops down.

I thanked her for her time and bustled out of there, finding my way to a Western Union, who, as it turns out do not charge a fee to exchange currency and have a favourable exchange rate.  Sure they charge you a pretty penny to send it to another country but nothing if you exchange it there onsite.

They have had my business for the last five years.

A credit card is a good idea too (Da-da-duh)

Hear me out before you flay me alive and then make your own decision. It’s not a points credit card I speak of and be aware I get nothing for telling you this other than the glory of suggesting a good product.

In Australia there is a credit card that cannot be beaten for travelThis is a 28 Degrees Mastercard, a product of GE Money.  It has no annual fee and no foreign currency conversions fees.

Doesn’t that send goosebumps to your frugal heart.  A savings of potentially hundreds of dollars that one can rack up when paying for accomodation and excursions.

Worth it? I think so and they haven’t even paid me to say it!  Now I can only speak for Australians but surely we can’t be the only country to offer this type of product.  Have a look around if you are elsewhere and see what you can come up with!

Please Note:  Yes I use credit cards BUT I make sure to pay them off within their interest free period.  Otherwise the high interest rate alone will counteract any savings made. 

Now it’s time to start packing

Confessions of a former suitcase traveller- I once flew to Hawaii with a large suitcase packed with clothes and shoes.  I wore maybe a third of the stuff…..

Travel with carry-on luggage only, my advice plain and simple.

It serves many purposes.  Having a small backpack with all I need to last a few days makes me think about what I really need.  I am ruthless!  Once I have packed what I need I then cut it down more.

Some airlines will also charge a fee for baggage.  No baggage, no fee, easy as that.

My backpack is also very light! After 10+ hours of flight I am not in the mood for dragging a big suitcase behind me, especially when I’m feeling dirty and haggard with travel grit.  Wearing a backpack on my shoulders is simply an extension of myself!

There is also no waiting at the carousel for luggage.

Finally a small backpack filled with all your worldly needs means there is no space for anything else.  The simple matter is what I need is available right here in Australia and I don’t need to shop anywhere else.  That’s not to say I may not pick up small mementos here and there but not enough to warrant buying another bag and lugging it all the way back to Sydney with me.

A great incentive if nothing else don’t you think?

It’s important to remember being on holiday shouldn’t change your frugal ways

There’s something about being on holiday that makes one want to splurge and big.  But I made a great discovery while on a cruise to New Caledonia.  I could still enjoy my holiday without paying for everything in sight.  This was right at the point when I found out how expensive stuff is when you are paying the tourist tax.  Where prices are jacked up ridiculously high because my boat was due in town.

Now it’s in my nature to keep living the frugal life even in another country and begins right from when I leave home.

For example airport food is expensive, too expensive if you ask me!  We already pay enough in airport taxes, why pay the higher cost of purchasing food enroute to your destination.  Avoid it unless you’re starving of course.

If nothing else carry an empty water bottle.  Only silly people pay for something that is free from your nearest water fountain.  What is the benefit of paying for water?  Cause I sure as heck would like to know.

Then fill up on food where everyone else gets it!

Grocery stores you know the big slabs of concrete buildings that everyone goes to buy food.  Might have a sign saying ALDI or Woolworths on it.  They are everywhere even in other countries.  Even if you don’t have one close a 7/11 is is far cheaper than eating in a restaurant.

Not that I’m against eating out, cause I love to but my wallet does not.  As I will be in America where tipping is mandatory, dining out is more expensive for this reason too.

It’s also wise to book accomodation that provides meals as part of the costs.   Most of my accomodation includes breakfast, the first meal of the day that fuels one up for a long day of exploring.  I make sure to get my fair share and them some!

Public Transport

Learning to navigate a cities transport hub.  Yes it’s scary, but paying for a taxi is scarier.  Especially considering my destination NYC.  Where traffic is congested and far worse than Sydney.

I will experience a few minor heart palpitations.  Because that’s just me.  As long as one doesn’t panic, I’m confident I’ll be able to get around with ease and of course a far lower cost.

Lastly using my smart phone, a map and life saviour does not have to be costly

I did consider using call roaming once. That lasted for about as long as it took for me to look up the price and realise how utterly stupendous that would be.

$10 per 50 MB of data.  I’d only have to turn my phone on and that would be exceeded.

Not to mention wearing the cost of people phoning/texting me.  I love my family and friends but not enough for them to call on holiday and have me pay for it.  So that would be a hell no.

Don’t spend your cash on call roaming it’s wasteful.  Buy a sim card in the country you are travelling to.

And once again I am residing in accomodation that has free WiFi.

There ends my tips so far, because honestly I could harp on forever.  In summary my takeaway is this.  Don’t waste money on stuff that doesn’t matter, travel the way you live at home, indulge occasionally and enjoy yourself!  Please feel free to add any other suggestions.

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