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Helen Baker: How to Save Money on Your Vacation

A money expert has revealed her secrets to vacationing on a budget as thousands prepare for their first big trip after lockdown.

Helen Baker, an Australian licensed financial advisor and author of the new book “On Your Own Two Feet: The Essential Guide to Financial Independence for all Women,” says Aussies don’t have to break the bank to treat themselves.

“Holidays are meant to be fun and relaxing — if you go over your budget, you get more stressed than before you left,” she said.

“Follow these tips for vacations on a budget to avoid coming home with a pesky mountain of debt.”

A money expert has revealed her secrets to vacationing on a budget as thousands prepare for their first big trip after lockdown

A money expert has revealed her secrets to vacationing on a budget as thousands prepare for their first big trip after lockdown

1. Plan ahead: where can you go?

It’s always a good idea to plan ahead. But in COVID times, planning takes on a new importance. As we have seen, the situation can change quickly with restrictions and border closures.

Consider:

– Not only where do you want to go, but where can you go?

– Which places are the most popular? You can stretch your budget further and support local businesses by going somewhere quieter.

– Do you have to quarantine at your destination or on your return? Or both? Or get stuck in a ‘bubble’ change? Then your costs and the amount of leave you need will be higher.

– Do you have a backup destination in mind?

Planning ahead can save you a small fortune and help keep your relaxing vacation from turning into a stressful nightmare.

Do you have to quarantine at your destination or on return?  Or both?  Or get stuck in a 'bubble' change?  Then your costs and the amount of leave you need will be higher

Do you have to quarantine at your destination or on return?  Or both?  Or get stuck in a 'bubble' change?  Then your costs and the amount of leave you need will be higher

Do you have to quarantine at your destination or on return? Or both? Or get stuck in a ‘bubble’ change? Then your costs and the amount of leave you need will be higher

2. Book in advance and contact operators directly

This is another reason why planning is so valuable – you can book ahead and lock in cheaper rates. Even a 5 percent discount will save you $250 on a $5,000 vacation.

Can a travel manager help you save on itineraries? Comparison sites are useful, but also try to contact operators – they may offer better prices or free upgrades to book directly with them.

Booking ahead also means missing out on disappointments – motorhomes and caravans, for example, are hugely popular right now, but demand outstrips supply.

3. Protect yourself – consider travel insurance

Find out what you can do to secure your travel budget in case something goes wrong, such as COVID outbreaks, general illness, accidents and natural disasters.

Make sure you can cancel or change bookings at no extra cost. This applies to all flights, accommodation, car rental, equipment rental, tours and so on.

Also consider getting travel insurance, but read the fine print carefully: are COVID/public health restrictions covered? Which costs are and are not insured? Is every member of your family covered? Is there a limit on how much can be claimed?

Hopefully you won’t need to use these, but you’ll be very grateful to have them if you do.

Find out what you can do to secure your travel budget in case something goes wrong, including COVID outbreaks, general illness, accidents and natural disasters

Find out what you can do to secure your travel budget in case something goes wrong, including COVID outbreaks, general illness, accidents and natural disasters

Find out what you can do to secure your travel budget in case something goes wrong, including COVID outbreaks, general illness, accidents and natural disasters

4. Don’t spend points in cash

All that online shopping while you’re in lockdown and paying with cards instead of cash means those credit card points accumulate quickly.

You can redeem those points to pay for part or all of your trip. The same goes for any unused frequent flyer points from previous vacations or work trips. Use them where you can get the most value.

For example, many programs offer more value if you spend points on goods or services instead of exchanging them for cash.

Does a family member, colleague or friend have bank balances that are about to expire and will not be used? Can you make a deal to use them at a discount instead of losing the credit completely?

5. Claim COVID incentives

This year, most state and territory governments offer incentives to support local hospitality and tourism businesses. Why not take advantage of this and vacation close to home?

It’s essentially free money, and every little bit that doesn’t come out of your pocket is a welcome relief, especially at Christmas time.

Check the eligibility criteria to see where they are valid. And don’t forget to claim for everyone – some incentives are available for every adult in your household.

Whenever possible, bring everything you need to minimize your expenses while you are away

Whenever possible, bring everything you need to minimize your expenses while you are away

Whenever possible, bring everything you need to minimize your expenses while you are away

6. Take what you need

It can be a long time since you last enjoyed a holiday, so remember that everything is more expensive in holiday destinations.

Whenever possible, bring everything you need to minimize your expenses while you are away.

That includes clothing for all occasions, toiletries, occasional items such as sunscreen and insect repellent, as well as any sports equipment you may need.

If you have space, consider also bringing food for picnic lunches and breakfast on the go.

7. Let your kids earn pocket money

Let’s face it – you’re paying for your kids’ vacation adventures anyway. But you can teach them the value of money by letting them earn their pocket money beforehand. Weigh the value of jobs against their difficulty.

Get them started now to save those dollars over time, rather than one crazy day before you leave.

Not only will it help you spread the cost of your vacation over several months, but you can also do some chores around the house for you!

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