With the Aussie dollar weakening against the greenback, are you scratching your head over how to plan a wallet-friendly holiday?
Don’t worry, here are five smart traveller tactics that’ll help you squeeze the best out of the Aussie dollar:
Choose the right destination: There are a number of overseas destinations where our dollar is still good value for travel. Some places that will not cause a rip in your travel wallet are Asian countries like Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia and Vietnam. Also, South European countries like Italy, Greece, Spain and Portugal, which are trying to recover from a slow economy, are good spots for a more budget-friendly European vacation.
Pre-pay your tickets and accommodation: This might be the oldest trick of the trade, but by booking your tickets and accommodation early on, you can take advantage of early bird prices. What’s more, booking early will also ensure that the bulk of your travel expense won’t be subject to sudden exchange rate changes in the future. In fact, you can even pre-book activities like day trips or museum tours. Online bookings not only help you skip long queues, they considerably reduce the amount of foreign currency you need to carry. Also, to help you to save on flight costs think about flying on weekdays because weekend flights are generally more expensive.
Buy foreign currency now: It hurts to think that this time last year, the Australian dollar was marked at 93 US cents, compared with 77 US cents now. If only we could turn back time! With currency rates constantly fluctuating, it’s smart to lock in some of your foreign exchange now with a prepaid travel card. You can add additional funds to prepaid cards but just be aware that some prepaid cards do have reload fees so make sure you won’t pay too much in extra fees by doing this or choose a travel card that doesn’t charge for reloads.
Avoid high currency conversion fees: One of the most avoidable holiday dollar drains happens through currency conversion fees. Most banks charge about 2% - 3% of the total value of the transaction for overseas card payments. So say you buy a dress worth $100, you would pay $2 to $3 extra for it because of this surcharge. While that doesn’t sound like much on one transaction, over the course of a two-week holiday when you are spending around $300 a day, that’s $126 in fees - or a new dress! So get a travel card that doesn’t have international transaction fees on purchases like the 28 Degrees Platinum MasterCard or the Citibank Plus Everyday Account Debit Card. Also, do yourself a favour and never exchange your dollars at the airport because they almost always charge a high rate for currency conversion.
Become a deal hound: Keep your eyes and ears open for any deals on hotels, day trips and even restaurants in your destination country. Sign up for the local Groupon or Scoopon equivalent and watch out for money saver deals. If your hotel is overcharging for breakfast, ditch the monotonous morning buffet and look up cheaper alternatives on travel websites.
Happy holidays savvy traveller! Do tell us if you think of other clever ways to stretch the Aussie dollar.