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Tips to save money when travelling on vacation

edited August 2009 in World Wide
Money-saving tips for your next vacation.

Most people these days are tightening their belts and saving frantically as the term ‘global recession’ becomes part of everyday conversation. As a result less people are travelling nowadays, so hotels, lodges, airlines and travel agents are constantly devising special offers and promotions in an attempt to win business in these tough times. That’s great news for customers who are tightening their belts but still looking for a vacation. Believe it or not, with a little imagination, you can afford to take a holiday. You just need to know where to look.

Planning your trip

Use your fingers: Aggregator sites are a consumer’s best friend, as they find the best deals. Sights such as Kayak, Lastminute and Expedia make searching for flights and hotels a cinch. Another helpful hint: Search for flights using the ‘one-way’ function instead of ‘return’ for sometimes cheaper deals.

Work backwards: Very often searching for specials before deciding on your destination can be a good approach. Letting the destination choose itself based on the deals and offers you find specials can be an exciting process.

Plan in advance: Sign up for free newsletters on travel websites, such as The Away Network, USA Tourist, The European Traveller and Australian Traveller.

Timing is everything: Travelling during off-season, midweek, at the last minute, late at night or early in the morning means cheaper prices and probably a slightly quieter holiday with regards to crowds – not a bad thing in anyone’s books!

Cut out the Middleman: Book directly through the company, whether it’s an airline or a hotel and browse directly through the site.

Driving or flying? Whether you choose domestic or international travel, use tool such as Gasbuddy, and TripCalculator to get an idea of fuel costs, while websites such as CheapFlights and Expedia are helpful tools for getting an idea of flight pricing and airline options.

Make the most of budget airlines: Avoid long stopovers. Fly directly to a major city and catch a budget airline to your final destination. Take advantage of cheap airlines such as Ryanair, BMI and Monarch in the UK , Virgin Blue and Jetstar in Australia, or Southwest, JetBlue and SpiritAir in the United States. Websites such as CheapFlights are great tools for scouting out your options.

Look for all-inclusive deals: Find a package holiday with flights, accommodation, meals, transfers, transport and tours included in the cost. Check the Internet for sites such as Dealbase, which can be very helpful in keeping an eye open for specials.

Cruising: Travelling on a cruise ship is currently one of the most popular and cost-effective means of travel. A great way to see a lot of cities from a different point of view and have the majority of your costs, such as accommodation, transport and meals already taken care of, cruising is a great money-saving option.

Once you’re there

Don’t forget your travel insurance: Many credit card companies, such as Visa and MasterCard, offer free medical and travel insurance to those who book their holiday using their credit card but check the terms of your insurance as some cards only offer limited cover.

Cut the costs: Look for other ways of cutting costs, such as weekly passes for public transport, sightseeing cards, or if planning a family holiday, remember to look out for special rates for school children as attractions such as theme parks often include discounts during school holidays.

Keep your money close: Avoid using ATMs as they offer the worst exchange rate and highest charges. Be new-age and opt for an electronic travel wallet or travel card, a prepaid currency card which allows the user to load their travel money at a fixed exchange rate onto the card which can be used in an ATM or simply swiped anywhere. Sites such as Cash Passport and MasterCard provide more information.

Book half or full board: Accommodation with breakfast included is wise as that’s one meal of the day taken care of. Full-board is even better as all your meals are accounted for, but it is wise to first find out the types of meals provided, such as set menu or buffet and whether or not alcoholic beverages are included in the cost.

Skip duty-free: Duty-free shopping is one of the biggest money-wasters that some travellers just can’t seem to avoid. If you’re looking to buy a decent souvenir, such as a jar of olives in Italy, try to do so in a supermarket rather than a souvenir store that sells all the regular tourist tat.


  • edited August 2009
    Another money saving tip relates to phone calls home: don't use your cell phone or the hotel phone - very expensive! Instead look for international calling cards, or bring a small portable headphone and use Skype from internet cafes. You can even call non-Skype landlines and cell phones by buying credits via the Skype website. Very good value compared to your other options when making international calls.
  • edited 5:56PM
    I read your tips with interest. Some very good ones. The one I would not recommend, is cutting out the 'middleman' - most likely the travel agent. You might think I am being selfish. However, I have seen many clients create dissasters and it is far more expensive to correct them. As well, you will not always get the best value, prices, or service by booking directly. Especially with cruises, hotels, car rentals, air, we often have better prices than if you go directly. As well, we will make sure everything is well coordinated and nothing is left undone.

    Find yourself a good Travel Agent and you will see how much easier and better your entire travel experience can be.
  • edited 5:56PM
    Really great tips for Money-saving for your next vacation. I think all are very useful. whenever i make a plan for a trip i will keep in mind. Thanks
  • edited 5:56PM
    I am looking at doing something like the following:

    I am considering a RTW ticket with free travel time reschedulling, it is going to be about £3K just for the flights, is this the easiest/cheapest way to do this? I am not going to rough it or do extensive trekking/backpacking as I am not so young any more:) all constructive tips would be welcomed, as I know so little about this sort of thing


    Kenya/Mombasa - safari

    China - Beijing, Xian, HImalayas, Guilian

    Vietnam - Hanoi, Hochiminh city



    Thailand - Bangkok, Phuket, Chiangmai






    South America





  • edited November 2009
    I agree with many of the points but I would too like to stand up for the 'middlemen'.

    You also contradict yourself somewhat by saying use sites such as Expedia, Lastminute etc. These are so called middlemen (effectively travel agents). You then go on to say book with airlines and hotels directly.

    I understand why travel agents have received bad press and many people view them as untrustworthy etc but we are not all the same.

    There are a multitude of suppliers who will never be on an aggregator site so how can you be sure you are getting the best deal by limiting yourself to relatively narrow searches online? A good travel agent will be quick and will be honest if they cannot beat a price.

    Expedia and such are great until something goes wrong - a quick search on the net will show you just how many complaints exist for these companies. A holiday is such an important thing to get right and I don't understand why anyone would ever want to take risks.

    Also a word of warning on budget airlines - they are not always the cheapest and do not automatically assume they will be. I believe the days of cheap flying are drawing to a close so keep an eye out for hidden costs.
  • edited 5:56PM
    Yes, good points. There price and service are two very different things - where you are intent on buying at cheapest price, you will compromise hugely on service and customer experience. I see aggregators like Expedia as marketing tools rather than actual price crunchers like they sell themselves to be.
  • edited 5:56PM
    Vacations are hard when trying to save money - those are some great tips when trying to budget on a getaway! Initially it seems like the flight costs and hotels are the only fees, but everything seems to add up very quickly wtih other transportation, eating out, and activities. But everyone deserves a vacation! This article really helped me make it possible to vacation and not make a big dent in my pocket! Hope it can help you all as well!
  • edited 5:56PM
    You have some great tips there thanks Claire and I hope that you enjoy your round the world trip freespirit. I have not decided where to go for my holidays this year. I have just started searching the internet to get some ideas of where to go and I will have a look at the full circle site now to see what you have.
    ps have a competition on, Ive just entered it, you can win £1375 to spend on their site just by becoming a member, its worth a shot I guess.
  • edited 5:56PM
    Nice tips. Thanks for sharing. During traveling I am always finding a places which are affordable and how can i save money and get best services. This tips are really very good. it will help me to save money during traveling.
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