BEFORE diving in at the deep end, it pays to research the market for the perfect way to spend money on your holidays.
Don't pay through the nose on your next adventure.
A little research can help you cut the cost of travel before you even leave your front door.
Most people travel with a card, instead of travellers cheques or cash, but there is still some confusion about different types of cards.
Consumer group Choice spokesman Tom Godfrey says choosing the wrong card can involve extra fees. However, if you don't expect to spend more than $3000, it's usually cheaper to just use your regular debit or credit card, Godfrey says.
The two main types of cards for travel are a prepaid travel card and a travel card linked to a bank account.
"However, there is a third category that may turn out to be the way of the future - credit cards specifically designed for overseas travel,'' he says.
"The ideal setup for your next overseas trip is to have a prepaid and a travel-worthy debit or credit card and use either depending on the transaction,'' Godfrey says.
"But if you're keen to avoid fees and can pay off your balance on time, the new style travel credit card is one way we've found to prevent sneaky fees from nibbling away at your travel budget."
- Pay in the local currency, even on credit card.
- Advise your bank or credit card company that you are going overseas.
- Ideally, have a selection of payment methods.
> TRAVEL INSURANCE
The devil is in the detail with any insurance, including travel insurance, and this is one area where you may need to do some detailed research.
The cheapest cover is not necessarily the most important factor. Before you make a decision based on price, make sure you consider where you are going, what you will be doing, how long you will be travelling, who you are travelling with and what you want covered.
"There's a huge range in the level of cover available and it also differs between providers,'' comparison company Finder.com.au spokeswoman Michelle Hutchison says.
"Don't underinsure yourself, which can be more costly if something happens and you're not covered for it, such as travel delays, damaged or lost luggage or a family emergency which means you have to leave your trip early,'' Hutchison says.
"The cost structure of travel insurance can be similar to other types of insurance, where you can pay a cheaper premium with a higher excess."
Backpacking travel insurance can be a good option for those who are taking an extended holiday, while for frequent travellers, a multi-trip policy can be a real money saver if you take three or more trips in a 12 month period.
- Some cards include travel insurance but check terms.
- Family and group travel policies can be good value.
- Most policies exclude certain sports and activities such as diving and hunting.
> DISCOUNT FARES
Most travel companies offer big discounts for booking early - in some cases a year in advance.
Silversea cruises general manager Karen Christensen says the cost of travel increases the closer you get to departure.
"Much like air travel, as the capacity increases, so does the price,'' Christensen says.
Booking in advance locks in the price and provides a greater choice of the best seats on board, she says.
Airlines are well known for their discounting and again for advance bookings, but special deals can also be achieved by waiting until the last minute.
According to online booking company lastminute.com.au, one-way flights to Kuala Lumpur and London, departing within 48 hours, could both be bought for less than half price through several airlines and in one case at a 70 per cent discount.
- Check booking websites for standby tickets.
- If your dates are set, book as early as possible.
- Pre-pay airport parking online for cheaper deals.
> DUTY FREE
Just because it's in a duty-free shop, it doesn't mean it will be cheaper. Choice says nine out of 13 products it recently spot checked were more expensive than non duty-free retailers.
"A quick price comparison could leave you with extra dollars in your pocket," Godfrey says.
Duty-free stores are just privately-owned companies wanting to make a profit like any other retailer, he says, and they are licensed to sell goods without including the tax or import duty.
A less-expensive option can be a large traditional store or online purchase.
Another option is to get a refund for any tax or duty you have paid while overseas through the Government's Tourist Refund Scheme.
"It allows you to get the best price at a regular retailer then claim the GST refund at the airport,'' Godfrey says.
DUTY FREE TIPS:
- Do a price comparison via smart phone before paying for goods.
- Duty-free shops vary their prices from day to day, keep an eye online for special deals.
- Make use of the Tourist Refund Scheme.
> MOBILE PHONE
A little pre-planning can save you a fortune (thousands of dollars even) on expensive data and phone charges.
"Before departing, check in with your phone provider and make sure international roaming is available where you are going,'' Telstra spokesman James Howe says.
"Switch to manual updates. Email, social networking and messaging apps on smartphones send and receive data in real-time and this can quickly add up - especially if your phone has been disconnected from the internet for some time,'' he says.
"You can reduce the amount of mobile data used by turning off these automatic updates."
- Skype instead of using mobile phones.
- Avoid using hotel phones.
- Use a secure guest Wi-Fi when ever possible.
- Check out international data and phone plans before you leave.