5 Travel Tips to Help you Stretch your Dollar Further!

5 Travel Tips to Help you Stretch your Dollar Further!

It takes more than a dip in the dollar to get between a determined Australian and an overseas holiday! With a little bit of planning, savvy travellers can overcome falls in the Aussie dollar by travelling smarter, not less.

Australians have seen the dollar lose nearly 18 per cent of value in the past 6 months and are weighing up the costs of overseas travel. But you don’t have to put that overseas trip on hold however – as if you would! There are a number of strategies you can put in place before heading offshore that will ease the pain on your hip pocket.

1. You could begin by investigating travel destinations where your purchasing power is increased.

  • Japan: The land of the cherry blossom tops the list of best value for money for Australian holidaymakers in 2014, according to travel booking site Expedia. But these days, visitors are more likely to be heading north in search of snow not cherry blossoms. Australian skiers have taken to Japan’s powdery snow hot sake in their droves. But if temples, sushi and quirky fashion are more your style, Japan has a rich cultural heritage that is hard to beat. I love Japan, I used to live there. Need travel tips? Email me and I’ll be happy to share!
  • Indonesia: Next on Expedia’s value list is Indonesia. Australians have adopted Bali as their own, but why not take a side-trip to Java’s ancient Buddhist temple of Borobudur next time you visit? Or do some island-hopping to Lombok, Flores or Komodo, home of the eponymous dragon. You can learn to dive, explore the forests or just sit by the pool.
  • Greece: Lonely Planet knows a thing or two about budget travel, and top of its list for 2014 is Greece. Visitor numbers have fallen in the wake of the financial crisis, which turned Greece into the economic basket case of Europe. But the ancient Acropolis and the lazy charm of the Greek Islands are timeless, and all the more enjoyable while prices are low in an attempt to lure back the tourist dollar.
  • Portugal: Portugal has always been a hit with the budget-conscious but it tends to be overshadowed by its brilliant, noisy neighbour Spain. The once-great seafaring nation offers quaint seaside villages, great food and wine, ancient architecture and the surf’s not bad either.
  • Argentina: They lost to Germany is last year’s world cup and now they are in the thick of a currency crisis after defaulting on part of their foreign debt for the second time in 12 years. The proud Argentinians may be down on their luck, but they sure know how to live. In Buenos Aires, ‘The ‘Paris of South America’, hotel prices have fallen. So tango, shop and eat your fill of grilled meat at recessionary prices.

2. Plan ahead

Once you choose your destination, think about booking and paying for at least part of your trip up-front to lock in the favourable exchange rate. And if you are worried that the dollar may fall before you depart, you could start making progressive cash transfers to a pre-paid travel card. Most major banks, airlines and foreign currency specialist offer travel cards that can be loaded with up to 10 currencies.

By shifting cash in stages, you are effectively taking advantage of the investment practice known as dollar cost averaging. Not only do you stand to get more foreign currency for your dollars while they are high, and limit purchases when the dollar is low, you also get to sleep at night without the anxiety of trying to time volatile currency markets.

3. Save on Accommodation – and have awesome experiences!

As we all know, AirBnB is a significant disruptor in the accommodation space. I recently went to the USA and saved a fortune on accommodation using AirBnB – I think the end result was in the vicinity of over $2,000 cheaper than if I’d used hotels, and in most cases the AirBnB’s were a lot nicer! Las Vegas was actually an apartment in the MGM Grand, so it pays to check what’s on AirBnB. Plus I got to meet some fun locals and stayed in some truly amazing apartments.

4. Live like a local step 1: get a local sim card

Avoid the telcos here killing you for international text, calls and especially data. One of the first things I do at any airport I land at.

5. Live like a local step 2: eat like a local

Eating out for breakfast, lunch and dinner is one of the biggest expenses of most trips, especially in the developed nation. In the USA, with tipping, most meals came out at an average of $20 USD. I’d make a trip to the supermarket when I got to each city and stacked up on items for breakfast and the occasional lunch and again, saved a fortune as well as avoiding putting on a lot of weight with all that restaurant food!

Aussies are pretty intrepid, and if we want to travel we don’t tend to let currency changes get in our way, but it’s always good to keep on top of ways to make your money work the hardest for you without having to sacrifice too much.

Got any tips you want to share? Head to Facebook or Twitter and start the conversation!

As always the above is general advice only. 

Sacha Loutkovsky
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