It’s not necessarily the journey, but the destination when it comes to cutting corners on holiday spending!
Here are simple insider tips to help save money - and stress - once you get to your dream destination.
When you think of idealistic island escapes, the Maldives are front of mind. Tranquil waters, intimate dwellings and the most luxurious of amenities, the Maldives may be the stuff of bucket list dreams, but as Emily Williams, Director of Destination HQ explains, the key to a budget-friendly Maldives trip is not to leave anything to chance.
• "Try and get as much included in your booking from Australia as you can," advises Emily. Patching together an itinerary once you get there can be fraught with extra expenses.
• You cannot take alcohol into the Maldives so don’t waste your money on duty-free, as it will be taken from you at Male airport.
Traveller Beware: Don’t get swayed with resort specials that only include breakfast when booking the Maldives, Emily cautions. “Eating and drinking in the Maldives can be expensive. Club Med has a great, all-inclusive product which means all your meals, drinks (alcoholic and non-alcoholic) snorkeling and other activities are included in your package price.”
Hawaii is part of the holiday psyche when it comes to sun, fun, surf and shopping. Although further flung than many tropical destinations closer to Australia, Hawaii is worth visiting due to its wonderful family appeal and top-notch shopping, as well as its ability to encapsulate a true island energy.
• Never include airport/hotel transfers in your bookings, Emily warns. “Taxis are much cheaper and readily available at all airports."
• “Find your closest ABC Convenience Store and stock up on snacks, souvenirs, American candy and drinks rather than eating and drinking at the hotels all the time,” Emily advises, if you want to cap costs on daily meals.
Traveller Beware: If you want to eat at the iconic Cheese Cake Factory, the wait can be up to two hours, so plan ahead for that one! Other must-visits when it comes to eating is Bills Hawaii for dinner. "It boasts beautiful fresh food, a gorgeous setting and fabulous staff. They are incredibly family friendly and service is exemplary, so this is definitely a must,” Emily suggests.
The largest island in Asia, Borneo boasts one of the oldest rainforests in the world, with 15,000 species of flowering plants. Approach a Borneo trip as one ripe with opportunity and adventure as its history and natural wonders are second to none.
• “Get your cash before you leave,” advises Emily. “Very few places take international credit cards, especially the smaller shops and markets. If you are planning to take a taxi from the airport this will cost about 30 MYR (Malaysian Ringgit), but you will need cash. Also, pack light as the temperature is between 25-35 degrees (Celsius) all year round and don’t forget Bushman’s Tropical Strength Mosquito spray or cream."
• If you are travelling out to the jungle or any of the islands, pre-arrange a guide to take you or organise this through your hotel concierge. This will save you time and money, Emily assures.
Traveller Beware: Whilst Kota Kinabalu and Sandakan are generally safe; you will need to take the normal precautions of personal safety anywhere in Borneo, Emily says. “If you are traveling in the jungle make sure you have the correct clothing, which is best to research before you leave."
Thailand is fast becoming a destination to drop into when you want to drop out of an Australian winter. And it’s no wonder. Thailand combines just the right western elements with the best in Asian landscapes and adventures. But no two Thailand itineraries are alike, so ensure you shop the trip and exact location tailored for you.
• When travelling to islands such as Phuket and Koh Samui always book with a travel agent as many offer exclusive deals, says Emily. “These include some incredible offers like buying five nights and receiving five nights free, so buying before you fly is the best way to get a better, budget savvy special.”
• Don’t change money on arrival at the airport, as exchange rates are often 20% less than changing your money at authorised moneychangers in the downtown area, Emily confirms.
Traveller Beware: “Don’t ever get into a taxi that doesn’t have a working meter!” warns Emily. Ensure your cab is legit before getting in.
Although it may sound out of your budget, skiing in Japan can be hugely affordable for those who want to stretch their legs on longer, more exciting runs than those on offer in Australia or nearby New Zealand. However, Emily suggests booking Club Med for a ski trip to Japan to ensure that all the elements are covered, and nothing is left to chance – or language barriers – once you get there.
• “Take multiple lenses for your goggles for the different weather conditions from sunny to cloudy as there is only very limited - and expensive - supply at Club Med to buy during your stay.”
• Ensure you sign up to lessons early the night prior to avoid the queues and guarantee your spot in your preferred lesson the next day, Emily advises.
Traveller Beware: Be mindful when skiing off-piste that your insurance company will not cover you, urges Emily. “Also, wear a helmet as whilst you may be confident but the people skiing into you may not be!”