When it comes to saving money on travel, who better to ask than travel agents? After all, they’ve got the inside scoop on holiday deals, the best times of the year to take a trip, connections coming out the wazoo and they know the ins and outs of all things, well, travel.
So, I’ve scoured the internet to find a bunch of tips from travel agents that will save you money. And to save you reading time, I’ll just paraphrase their advice.
1. Book flights in local currency
If you book with Singapore Airlines, pay them in Singapore dollars. Same goes for any airline. You’ll pay exactly the advertised flight and won’t have to fork out for exchange fees and conversion rates. Also, find out in which countries the Aussie dollar is strong and time your trip for when it’s high.
2. Pick your day to fly
Forget flying on Fridays and Sundays – the cheapest days to take off are Tuesdays, Wednesdays, or Saturdays. Flying midweek will save you money, because airlines want bums on seats on flights and offer lower fares to encourage off-peak travel. Oh, and the best time of day to fly is between 5am and 7am or after 8pm.
3. Split the difference
You’d think that buying a return flight with the one airline would save you money. Wrong. More often than not, buying a one-way ticket with one airline and a ticket back with another will save you a bundle. And you’re offered better departure times because some airlines only show you flight combinations that work for them.
4. Travel off-peak
Learn about shoulder seasons, which can save you thousands of dollars depending on the destination. Book cruises and accommodation in early or late season. Avoid peak tourism times and the crowds will be smaller, the prices lower and your experience better.
5. Check your credit card benefits
Many credit cards include free travel insurance, flight and hotel upgrades and other member benefits. For example, St George Platinum card has free travel insurance included, and AMEX Platinum cards offer benefits such as room upgrades, free wifi and access to special amenities.
6. Forget the room with the view
Unless you plan to spend a lot of time in your room, what’s the point of having the view? Rooms with a water, river or mountain view will often come at a premium, so get yourself a standard room or a partial view room and use the cash you save to splash out on something else.
7. Skip the extra day
It’s no surprise the airlines and hotels charge more for weekend stays and flights, so instead of squeezing out extra time for your holiday, cut it short a day or two. That extra day will cost you one and a half to triple what it costs to stay midweek.
8. Save on one night, splurge the next
Sure, you may wish to stay in five-star luxury every night of the week, but again, unless you plan to spend a lot of time in your room, what’s the point in wasting your money? Instead, find a nice three to four-star hotel that’s affordable and treat yourself to five-star digs on your first or final night.
9. Find free city tours
Many capital cities and even smaller ones offer free walking tours, free gallery talks and heaps of familiarisation activities, you guessed it, free of charge. Quite often, these free tours can include tastings and further discounts on activities and events, so make use of them and you’ll save.
10. Tip like a pro
Knowing tipping etiquette in the country you’re visiting means you’ll keep staff happy without blowing your budget. And sometimes, mandatory tipping fees are included in your bill, so know when to hold it and when you should pony up the dough. There’s even an app that can help you tip like a pro.
11. BYO bottle and food
Bring your own reusable water bottle and refill where possible. This will save you $4 for bottled water, which adds up over the course of a week. Also, pack some snacks for the plane, stock up at the supermarket near your hotel and bring along a bag of nuts when you’re out and about town.
12. Seek out city passes
Find out which cities offer city passes and tourist cards. Many offer huge discounts on transport, attractions, activities, food and tours. Be careful though. Some are good and some are blatant rip-offs, so read reviews and do your research before committing to a card.
13. Try a travel agent
Surprise, surprise. A travel agent telling you that a travel agent will save you money. You know what, though, they’re not wrong. Travel agents are worth their weight in gold. They’ll find you the best deals, get you upgrades, offer advice that will save you money upfront and, if anything were to go wrong, they’ll have you covered, which could save you money in the long run, too.
Do you have any other travel savings tips to share?