18/07/2024

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Ways to Save When Traveling Overseas

Ways to Save When Traveling Overseas

Whether you’re a seasoned traveler or plan to head overseas for the first time, there are many simple ways to cut costs without impacting on the fun or comfort of your trip.

Thumbing through well-researched, up-to-date guidebooks helps in discovering little-known delights- and also helps to save money.

Countries differ but, when it comes to shaving costs, here are some general rules to apply.

MONEY

Never change money at hotel reception desks.

Foreign exchange is an easy profit source for hotels. Staff may tell you their exchange is competitive, but, hotel rates are almost always terrible.

In many countries, money-changer kiosks offer better rates than banks- but not always. Exchanging on the street is begging to be ripped off.

It’s a good idea to have some local currency when arriving in a country. But do a little checking: sometimes it’s better to change money on arrival at the airport rather than in your own country. Also, try and convert what currency you have left at the airport rather than after you get home.

Getting local cash from the ATM is generally cheaper than exchanging money- but check your card will be accepted.

You may also consider having some travelers’ cheques issued in local currency before you leave home to avoid unfavourable exchange rates. To get around paying fees, instead of cashing the cheques at local banks, buy something small with a large cheque and use the change.

CREDIT CARDS

Credit cards are a handy way to carry money, as they save on transaction costs and offer reasonable rates of exchange.

The trick is to deposit enough money on to the card to fund your trip before you leave so it acts as a debit card instead of a credit card. Withdrawing money from a credit card that isn’t cashed up is treated as a cash advance.

Withdrawals generally attract a high interest rate which kicks in immediately. The cost of whatever you bought with the cash you withdrew will multiply before you’ve landed back on Australian soil.

Also, take more than one credit card. Don’t assume one credit card will be accepted absolutely everywhere. A good combination is a Visa or Mastercard and an Amex or Diners. Carry the cards separately in case one goes astray.

Finally, keep all receipts from credit card transactions in case you need to dispute any unauthorised charges later.

ACCOMMODATION

You won’t get a good accommodation deal if you don’t ask for one. Smaller hotels in general are likely to offer good rates on the day if they have rooms available.

The larger international hotels are less likely to have last-minute discounts but it’s worth asking if there are any special deals for which you might qualify.

If you want to travel in style but remain cost-conscious, consider the hotels’ executive floors. These upgrades can save you money since they usually include breakfast in the club lounge, free Internet access, coffee and snacks all day- and happy-hour cocktails.

Self-catered accommodation is often the cheapest option for families and groups.

Sometimes, travel-and-accommodation deals are best when it comes to saving some money. Packages often include air fares, discounted hotels (commonly with breakfast), transfers and perhaps optional city tours. Some may even include car rental.

Ski resort packages often include bed, breakfast and dinner, lift tickets and equipment hire- this can be a hassle free way to travel, especially if you’re staying in an on-snow lodge.

GO OFF-SEASON

If escaping the crowds isn’t a big enough incentive to travel off-peak, the prospect of saving on accommodation, attractions and airfares may convince you.

Traveling to Asia in the main wet season or Europe in February or March, for example, will be vastly cheaper.

But you have got to look at why it’s off season. Traveling to Europe in winter if you don’t like the cold may be miserable no matter how good the savings.

FLIGHTS

The earlier you book a flight, the cheaper it will be. The cheapest fares tend to be the ones that sell quickest. It really does pay to get in early.

FOOD

Opt for hotel packages with breakfast included. Gorge from the buffet to prevent those lunch-time hunger pangs.

Shopping malls often have food courts where locals lunch cheaply.

Raid supermarkets: in Europe (or Euro-Style destinations such as New Caledonia) they’re a cheap source of tasty items to consume at the hotel.

DRINK

Shun in-room mini-bars. This old rule is often disregarded in quests for middle-of-the-night bottles of water. Buy water from a corner store before returning to the hotel.

SHOPPING

Don’t forget to barter when you’re out shopping, particularly if you are buying in bulk, but remember to check the customs rules first.

Bargains are only bargains if you don’t have to leave them behind when you return home. See http://www.customs.gov.au for the latest rules.

If bartering doesn’t get you anywhere, ask traders to drop the price if you pay cash.

Exploring on your own away from over-priced tourist spots is a good way to save on meals and souvenirs. If you go to the local shops you’ll pick up better bargains and they are probably more authentic.

GETTING AROUND

Public transport isn’t as terrifying as it seems. In South Korean cities, for example, subway lines, stations and exits all have numbers- study a map and memorise a few numbers.

Saving both time and money is Bangkok’s Skytrain (ticketing staff speak English). Check for day-trip deals on transport systems.

KEEPING IN TOUCH

Avoid in-room phones and hotel business centers for Internet access. Activate international roaming on your mobile phone (by calling your phone company) but don’t leave your mobile phone on all the time since you will be charged when your caller calls from Australia to your overseas destination.

Instead, tell friends and family that your phone will only be on for a specified hour. Otherwise, switch your international roaming to only making outgoing calls.

People should preferably e-mail you. Set up a free web-based e-mail account such as Hotmail or Yahoo, and check your e-mail at a dirt-cheap Internet cafe.

AVOID DEBT

Whatever you do, try not to come home laden with credit card debt