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Sipping wine with the Eiffel Tower shimmering against the sunset or being nestled by a crackling fire somewhere in the Austrian alps might get you really excited to plan your next holiday, until the daunting reality hits that all these alluring places can cost a pretty penny.

Luckily with some simple research, you can pull off an epic holiday without an outrageous price tag. Here are a few essentials to get your money’s worth and potentially be slashing hundreds off airfares, accommodation and all the extras.

Be flexible with your travel times

  • If you can avoid travelling during peak seasons like school holidays and summer break, the cost of everything is significantly cheaper. If you’re looking for a nice summer getaway, Hawaii’s peak season is around New Year’s Eve, but come February hotel rates can drop by nearly half the price.
  • Most of Europe is overcrowded during August because it’s summer, so if you’re looking for great deals, the ideal time to travel would be just after the peak season around late-September to October, where you can get good value on flights and hotel prices. Plus, you’ll have the added benefit of smaller crowds and shorter lines to main attractions.
  • If you must go during the holiday season, the last week is typically cheaper than the rest of the holiday period.

Do your research and plan ahead

  • It’s not as easy as it used to be to snag a cheap last-minute deal on flights. Usually, prices on airfares inflate closer to the date of departure, so it’s best to book in advance. Diligent research is essential when planning a holiday.
  • There are loads of websites that offer luxury holiday deals and airfare specials so keep an eye out for these bargains and don’t be afraid to lock them in when the opportunity arises.
  • Websites like Skyscanner, Trivago, and TripAdvisor are great comparison sites that allow you to compare prices for flights, accommodation and rental cars from several websites. If you’re flexible with travel dates some websites will search for cheaper alternatives within your date range.
  • It’s also worthwhile to set up price alerts, that way you can be notified when prices increase or decrease.

Consider a stopover

  • For most people the thought of hours of waiting around the airport for your connecting flight is unpleasant, but a stopover can save you money on airfares. It’s also an ideal opportunity to add in an extra destination without the additional costs.
  • Check out a new city, grab a coffee or if you really want to make the most of it, you can extend your stopover a few days and really explore. The best part is that you won’t have to fork out more money for flights.

Don’t fall for tourist traps

  • Avoidable expenses like distractions at the duty-free or the hotel mini bar can really burn a hole in your pocket. Instead of spending money on the unnecessary, save your money for the fun things that will contribute to making your holiday a memorable one.
  • Although you can save money on the duty-free staples like alcohol, cigarettes and cosmetics, a lot of the goods like confectionery, clothing and souvenirs are often heavily marked up, so be careful when you shop, or opt for local markets if you’re looking for a bargain.
  • The same rule applies for the hotel mini fridge. Don’t be lured in by the $14.00 Kit-Kat. If you know you’re easily tempted, save yourself the guilt and stop by a convenient store on your way back to the hotel.

Eat where the locals eat

  • Whether you’re going out for lunch or you just want to enjoy a simple coffee with a view, restaurants and cafes are substantially more expensive near the main sights. Your best option is to walk around the corner and not look for the most obvious place to eat.
  • A five-minute walk can halve your bill and you’ll be surprised to find the food is likely to be more authentic than at the more obvious tourist locations.
  • You can also download apps like ‘Spotted by locals’ which provides locally handpicked spots for a variety of activities like bars, cafés, restaurants, music, art and relaxation. Each city guide is available for roughly A$5.75.

House Swap

  • Offering up your home to another couple or family to live in while you live in theirs is a great way to cut costs of accommodation, but it’s also a great way to get a feel of your holiday destination from the perspective of a local rather than a tourist.
  • There are several websites that can help you find the perfect people to swap homes with, but you must be prepared to explore your options. Alternatively, you can use websites like Airbnb to host your house to other travellers and earn money while you’re on holidays.

Organise your own excursions

  • Tours and excursions can be quite pricey, especially if you are buying the tickets for them on location. Often the more valuable tours sell out quickly so if you buy your tickets in advance online, chances are you’ll slash half the price off the ticket and get hooked up with a better tour and more inclusions.
  • There are also so many free tours and places to see that won’t cost you the world. Usually your hotel will have a few handy brochures available, but if you really want to know where the best places to go are, ask a local. Most of the time they are excited to share their city with you.

A great holiday on a budget is achievable! With a little bit of research, organisation and planning you’ll be jet-setting off on your next adventure without busting the bank.

The opinions expressed in this article are the opinions of the author(s) and not necessarily those of State Custodians.

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