Last-minute ways to slash $1000+ off the cost of your Christmas holiday

Hold onto your wallets, Christmas is coming. Department stores are playing carols, the end of school term is fast approaching, and you’ve already told at least two people who your office Secret Santa is.

Yes, it’s well and truly the most wonderful (read: expensive) time of the year.

But if you think it’s impossible to get away over the Christmas break without paying a premium, think again.

We’ve rounded up 5 last-minute ways to save $1,000 on your summer break:

1. Book airport parking ahead of time: save $122

While Santa can get away with leaving his sleigh on the roof, you probably can’t.

A little forward planning can make a big difference when travelling during peak periods like Christmas. And one place where your foresight pays huge dividends is the airport carpark.

By simply booking your car space for a six day trip online before you arrive, you can slash the $270 parking fee at Sydney Airport’s T3 carpark down to $148, saving yourself $122*.

2. Take 5 minutes to compare travel insurance: save $170

If you’re a savvy traveller you probably spend a bit of time comparing the costs of the ‘big ticket items’, like flights and accommodation, to make sure you’re getting the best deal. Take that bargain-hunting mentality, and apply it to other travel expenses.

A quick comparison of travel insurance quotes on Mozo revealed that prices for a family of four travelling to Bali over Christmas ranged from less than $50 to more than $220 (and the most expensive one didn’t even have unlimited medical cover!). That’s a potential saving of $170 found in just 5 minutes.

3. And while you’re at it, compare travel debit cards too: save $80

It’s important to shop around when choosing a travel debit card because, if you pick the wrong one, five visits to an overseas ATM with a $4 withdrawal fee ($20), and an uncompetitive foreign exchange fee of 3% could lose you $80 on a $2,000 currency exchange. Bah, humbug!

However, by comparing debit travel cards you could find one that gives you a much better deal. The Citibank Transaction Plus debit card can be used anywhere Visa is accepted, and with no ATM fees and no foreign exchange commission, you can put that $80 towards your mojito budget.

4. Get in touch with local customs and visit a supermarket: save $500

While in-house breakfast buffets are an easy way to feed your family, they are a pretty costly exercise.

With costs of $25/head often standard, a family of four could spend $600 eating breakfast at the hotel buffet on a six day trip. Which seems a bit ridiculous if one of those four is an eight-year-old who only ate half a piece of toast.

When in Rome do as the Romans do and visit a local supermarket to buy breakfast items to last the length of your stay. Even if you splashed out at the supermarket on the most gourmet breakfast and morning tea items, you would easily be ahead $500.

5. Know your perks: save $150

Your mum probably told you to read the card before opening a Christmas present. And, she was right.

By paying attention to the fine print on things like your travel insurance, you might discover that you are entitled to lots of extras you didn’t know about.

For example, many standard travel insurance policies come with rental car excess cover. So, while hiring an economy car can attract a $25/day fee to reduce your standard excess from $3,500 to $500, if you have travel insurance you could waive that fee, saving you $150 over 6 days.

And before you go, check for any perks attached to your health fund, NRMA, union membership or rewards points program as you might be able to save on everything from the cost of your hotel room to theme park entry.

That’s a total saving of $1022: enough to fund one heck of a New Years party.

It’s a Christmas miracle!

*Based on parking for one car from 23-28 December 2014 at Sydney Airport’s T3 parking. Prices taken 24 November 2014.