HELLO, GOOD BUYS

How to bud­get for your next hol­i­day

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - Escape - - COVER STORY - CELESTE MITCHELL

Con­grat­u­la­tions! You just scored re­turn flights to Europe for less than the price of your car rego but how much are you re­ally sign­ing up for? Ac­cord­ing to Com­mBank, a third of Aussies spend more on their trip than planned – and when the over­all blowout equates to $900 mil­lion, it’s a pretty big “whoops”. Per­haps the fig­ure is un­sur­pris­ing, though, when you find out close to half of those don’t set a bud­get.

If you’re a buy-be­fore-you-bud­get trav­eller, th­ese tips could save you your san­ity.

1 DON’T DREAD THE ‘B’ WORD

If you see your­self on a trop­i­cal is­land some­where in the not-too-dis­tant fu­ture, bud­get­ing isn’t bor­ing, it’s the first step in en­sur­ing you’ll be re­lax­ing rather than fret­ting over the first credit card state­ment when you get back home.

“There’s no easy way out,” says Ex­pe­dia travel ex­pert Lisa Perkovic. “You have to do the heavy lift­ing be­fore you go. You don’t want to land in a des­ti­na­tion and find all th­ese amaz­ing things to do and not be able to af­ford to do them. A lot of peo­ple ask me how to bud­get for hol­i­days and it’s just about work­ing out what your daily bud­get is go­ing to be and how you might spend it.”

Then, the fun be­gins – if your idea of fun is squir­relling away a set amount of funds in or­der to meet your hol­i­day goals.

“The key be­hind bud­get­ing is con­sis­tency,” ad­vises Canna Camp­bell, Su­garMamma TV founder and au­thor of The $1000 Project (out now via Pen­guin Vik­ing). “Each year I nor­mally go away for two weeks in sum­mer and two weeks in win­ter so I have a set amount per month I trans­fer into a sep­a­rate ac­count that I’ve nick­named ‘hol­i­day sav­ings’.”

EX­PE­DIA.COM.AU, SU­GARMAMMA.TV

2 PLAN, SAVE AND CON­QUER

Be­fore you skim past this step for fear of in­for­ma­tion drier than your bowl of All Bran, con­sider bud­get­ing your ticket to stress-free hol­i­days, hap­pen­ing more reg­u­larly.

“A lot of friends say to me, ‘you get away so of­ten’, but it’s be­cause we plan for it well in ad­vance,” says Flight Cen­tre head of mar­ket­ing Jason Wolff.

From what Flight Cen­tre sees, about 45-50 per cent of what you’re go­ing to spend on a hol­i­day is made up of flight and ac­com­mo­da­tion.

Start your bud­get plan­ning by think­ing about where you’d like to go but be flex­i­ble with your des­ti­na­tion op­tions; have a few in mind.

You might think the Greek Is­lands are out of your price range but next thing you know there has been a new air­line route an­nounced and flights are dirt cheap.

Then, look at the av­er­age ac­com­mo­da­tion costs for the des­ti­na­tions of your choice to fig­ure out if it’s still a vi­able op­tion for you. Al­low­ing $200 a night for a twobed­room apart­ment will be easy in some places but im­pos­si­ble in a city like New York.

FLIGHTCENTRE.COM.AU

3 PAUSE BE­FORE YOU BUY

Ex­pe­ri­enc­ing buyer’s re­morse over $20 is one thing, but on a $2000 pur­chase you’re pass­ing into stress­rash, lost sleep ter­ri­tory. Be­fore you click your­self into a pur­chase cor­ner, take five and con­sider your other ex­penses so you don’t ex­pe­ri­ence what hap­pened to Ex­pe­dia’s Perkovic af­ter book­ing cheap flights to Hawaii.

“I thought, wow I can go to Hawaii, it’s re­ally cheap … I didn’t re­alise it was an Amer­i­can public hol­i­day week­end, all the ac­com­mo­da­tion was as­tro­nom­i­cally ex­pen­sive and there wasn’t much left.

“Luck­ily we could com­pro­mise by look­ing for op­tions where we could self cater to save some of the money we had to spend on ac­com­mo­da­tion.”

Check if travel agents or air­lines you book with have a hold op­tion, like Vir­gin’s Hold This Price, which lets you se­cure the price of do­mes­tic flights for up to 48 hours so you can suss other costs be­fore com­mit­ting. VIRGINAUSTRALIA.COM

A LOT OF FRIENDS SAY TO ME, ‘YOU GET AWAY SO OF­TEN’, BUT IT’S BE­CAUSE WE PLAN FOR IT WELL IN AD­VANCE

4BONUSES AVOID UN­WANTED HOL­I­DAY

All your best-laid bud­get plans can fall in a heap be­fore you even leave the air­port if un­ex­pected “hid­den costs” rear their ugly head. The first step to avoid­ing them is prep­ping with pro­tec­tion.

“Travel in­sur­ance is a big one. A lot of peo­ple do for­get about that un­til they’re just about to leave,” says Lisa Perkovic. “Some­times if you use your credit card to pay for ac­com­mo­da­tion and flights, you get au­to­matic travel in­sur­ance, which can save you up to $500,” sug­gests Canna Camp­bell.

Pass­ports and visas can also slip trav­ellers up. You might know you need an ESTA to visit the US, but did you know you need a visa to visit Canada or Brazil? Check the travel

I READ THE MENUS AT THE HO­TELS ... I’VE BEEN STUNG ... I GOT INTO A SIT­U­A­TION IN THE MAL­DIVES WHERE A BURGER WAS $US60

ad­vice on the gov­ern­ment Smart Trav­eller web­site and en­sure your pass­port is valid for at least six months from the date you in­tend to re­turn to Aus­tralia.

If not, “All of a sud­den you might have to do an ex­press pass­port ap­pli­ca­tion, which can be be­tween $200 and $300,” says Jason Wolff.

Some coun­tries will also charge a tax when you en­ter or leave, and by re­search­ing be­fore­hand you’ll be pre­pared, or some­times if you pre­pay it might be cheaper.

SMARTRAVELLER.GOV.AU

5YOURSELF DON’T FOR­GET TO FEED

The pre-travel work is done, now it’s time to get savvy on the costs you’ll be up for when you ar­rive in your dream des­ti­na­tion. You could start, as Canna Camp­bell sug­gests, by con­tact­ing friends via so­cial me­dia to get an idea of liv­ing costs in the des­ti­na­tion you’re head­ing to, then use on­line fare cal­cu­la­tors or Uber to check trans­fer costs, and dou­blecheck for any hid­den “hos­pi­tal­ity” or “re­sort” fees at­tached to your ac­com­mo­da­tion, which are com­mon in North Amer­ica. There’s no de­tail too small to con­sider – right down to what you’ll eat each day.

“I read all of the menus at the ho­tels I am stay­ing at,” says Lisa Perkovic. “I like to plan what I’m hav­ing but also, I’ve been stung be­fore. I got into a sit­u­a­tion in the Mal­dives where a burger was $US60 (about $80).”

Sim­i­larly, weigh up ho­tels ver­sus apart­ments. You might forgo break­fast for a cheaper room rate but are there break­fast op­tions close by? What restau­rants do you want to eat at? And don’t for­get about hav­ing to meet tip­ping ex­pec­ta­tions.

If you’re self-cater­ing some­where with a cap­tive mar­ket, like the ski fields, it’s a good idea to do a quick search to see if you can or­der gro­ceries on­line to help cut costs.

6 PRE-BOOK LIKE A BOSS

There’s noth­ing worse than ar­riv­ing in a new city and not hav­ing the funds to do the ex­pe­ri­ences you re­ally want to do. Re­search­ing the tours or shore ex­cur­sions will help you to work out your spend­ing money bud­get.

If you see your­self do­ing a food tour in Rome or sky­div­ing in Hawaii, search for op­tions on a site like Ex­pe­dia or work with your travel agent to pre-plan.

“Most tours you can pre book will usu­ally give a bet­ter deal than if you leave it till the last minute,” says Jason Wolff. “You can­not only get stung on price but some­times there’s lim­ited tick­eted avail­abil­ity and you might just to­tally miss out.”

EX­PE­DIA.COM.AU

7PACKAGE? TO PACK­AGE OR NOT TO

If you’re think­ing, “ain’t no­body got time for that” level of re­search and pre­fer to go for an all-in­clu­sive pack­age, tour or cruise, there are still things to con­sider.

While bundling flights, ac­com­mo­da­tion and ac­tiv­i­ties from one sup­plier de­liv­ers at­trac­tive rates, you might end up pay­ing more in cus­tomi­sa­tions or find your­self in a re­sort miles from the ac­tion.

“Make sure the ac­com­mo­da­tion suits your needs and check what it in­cludes,” Canna Camp­bell cau­tions. “For ex­am­ple, if there’s a kids’ club at the ho­tel, does the pack­age in­clude it? Re­ally try to check the fine print and also check the can­cel­la­tion pol­icy.”

On a cruise, en­tic­ing pack­ages are laid out on a plat­ter, but you’ve got to weigh up the pros and cons. Will you re­ally drink enough cock­tails to make that al­co­hol pack­age eco­nom­i­cal?

8 AVOID UN­WANTED FEES

Banks and tel­cos love trav­ellers. When you switch on data roam­ing or start flash­ing the plas­tic over­seas, there’ll be a whole lot of dol­lar signs await­ing your re­turn, so arm your­self against a nasty shock by re­search­ing costs.

Does your phone provider of­fer a daily data pack­age for your mo­bile over­seas and if so, what are you in for when you ac­cept? That $10 day pass might sound like good value, but if you’re not able to turn it off and on, it can add up to a huge bill at the end of your two-week hol­i­day.

Then, there’s the old cash ver­sus credit card de­bate when it comes to spend­ing. Some banks like ING of­fer free in­ter­na­tional ATM with­drawals and eft­pos transactions, re­vers­ing any en­su­ing charges from lo­cal ATMs, while oth­ers will be sure to sting you for ev­ery swipe.

If you’re plan­ning on us­ing your card over­seas, check the fees or re­search the travel cards that will al­low you to load funds, lock in your ex­change rates and thereby re­duce trans­ac­tion costs.

9 AP­PROACH IN­TER­EST-FREE WITH CAU­TION

In an in­ge­nious, or con­cern­ing, move, de­pend­ing which way you look at it, in­ter­est-free hol­i­days are now as easy as buy­ing a new fridge or TV.

Flight Cen­tre has of­fered in­ter­est­free fi­nance for the past 18 months and Jason Wolff says the take-up is strong. “For those peo­ple that haven’t done the plan­ning, when a great deal pops up they don’t want to miss out, and (in­ter­est-free fi­nance) makes it pos­si­ble for them to grab that deal,” he says.

We­b­jet Ex­clu­sives is an­other firm of­fer­ing up to 12 months’ in­ter­est free in part­ner­ship with Lat­i­tude ser­vices and ZipMoney. But be­fore you sign on the dot­ted line check the set-up and card fees in­volved and what it means if you don’t pay it off within the in­ter­est-free pe­riod.

“It’s re­ally im­por­tant that you fac­tor those lay-by pay­ments into your bud­get so you know you can gen­uinely af­ford it, and try to pay as much of that cost up­front as pos­si­ble,” says Canna Camp­bell. FLIGHTCENTRE.COM.AU/IN­TER­EST-FREE EX­CLU­SIVES WE­B­JET.COM.AU/UP-TO-12-MONTHS-IN­TER­EST­FREE/

10TOOLKIT YOUR BUD­GET PLAN­NING

Fi­nan­cial ad­viser Canna Camp­bell’s Sugar Bud­get app helps make hol­i­day sav­ings part of your ev­ery­day.

SU­GARMAMMA.TV

ASIC’s MoneyS­mart web­site pro­vides sav­ings goals and bud­get plan­ner cal­cu­la­tors to help you plan and save for a hol­i­day.

MONEYS­MART.GOV.AU/MAN­AG­ING-YOURMONEY/SAV­ING/SAV­ING-FOR-A-HOL­I­DAY Spec­ify your max­i­mum bud­get in We­b­jet’s “Where can I go” tool so there’s no temp­ta­tion to over­spend.

WE­B­JET.COM.AU/FLIGHTS/WHERE-CAN-I-GO/

Run through We­b­jet’s “Be­fore you go” check­list to avoid un­wanted, and ex­pen­sive, sur­prises.

WE­B­JET.COM.AU/TRAVEL-TOOL­BOX/TRAVELCHECKLIST/

MOSCOW

GREEK IS­LANDS

PIC­TURE: VIK­ING CRUISES

On a cruise, con­sider if you re­ally will drink enough cock­tails to make that al­co­hol pack­age eco­nom­i­cal.

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