In the first installment of our Travel Deal Hunting Tips guide we covered ways to get the best deals on hotel and flight bookings when planning your vacation. In this post we'll be focusing on how best to save money on transport at your holiday destination as well as ways to keep other key expenses as low as possible during your stay. What most people don't realise is that a true travel deal is often the combination of savings made both before (when booking) and during your trip.
When booking a car, it's a pretty similar deal to hotel bookings in that price comparison sites are a good place to start to look for deals and get a feeling for the cheapest prices. These could include Expedia.com.au and Lastminute.com.au as starting points. Then you could move on to car hire specialist sites like Thrifty.com.au and Budget.com.au to make an overall comparison of the available offers. It's best not to leave this to the last minute, as your choice will become increasingly restricted the more urgently you need the booking, and that almost always means you'll pay more. Make sure you understand just what your car hire booking includes. Most deals offer a certain number of free kilometres per day (or a total amount for the whole booking), after which you'll be charged per kilometre for your car use, which on top of the cost of fuel will work out far more expensive than going for a slightly pricier deal that includes more free mileage in the first place.
An alternative to hiring a car is of course to make use of local transport. This is often the cheapest way of getting around, and lets you take in your surroundings rather than having to make heads or tails of the local road system. If you're in a major city, look at the cost of a weekly travel pass and what it covers. It may work out the smart move if it sidesteps getting stuck in rush hour traffic jams and exorbitant parking costs.
One specific point of advice here: if you are going to go without car hire, make sure you research how much it will cost to get to and from the airport. Most airports are situated outside of town (especially those used by budget airlines), and if you don't book a train or coach in advance, you'll probably pay more in person once you get there and might end up having to wait longer too.
An excellent all-round resource for savvy global travellers is www.seat61.com. It offers detailed information and advice on getting around by train for pretty much anywhere you could think to go, but also throws in plenty of tips on travelling abroad in general.
Keeping Mobile Phone Bills Down
Want to save even more money? Look into the cost of buying a local SIM card for the country you're visiting (after making sure your phone isn't network locked). This is invariably the cheapest way of using your phone abroad. As for the internet, look to see if your hotel offers free Wi-Fi, or look for public spaces with free internet access – unless you're travelling to developing nations there's no reason you should ever have to resort to paying internet cafe prices these days.
If you’re only interested in data (and remember that services such as Skype and Whatsapp are data-based, so you can still make calls and send messages purely on data) a good option could be to use a Globalgig portable wireless modem. With this device you basically pre-pay for the required amount of data you wish to use abroad. That way there aren't going to be any surprise sky-high phone bills waiting for you when you get home. This handy gadget allows up to five devices to connect simultaneously via Wi-Fi and access the web using the networks of Optus' regional partners in other countries. To learn more about Globalgig, and for additional tips on how to save money on your phone mobile bill abroad, read this previous post on Buckscoop.
Those "Little" Extras
You're best off changing your money before leaving home, too, as it's normally cheaper than doing it at the airport, especially on the destination side. Check with your bank, though, as depending on your account type the cheapest option of all may be simply to draw cash in the local currency, or pay directly by card.
While out and about sightseeing on your actual holiday, it's a good idea to purchase snacks from kiosks or 7-Eleven type stores as you pass by them. This helps avoid the build up of an appetite to the point where you suddenly feel ravenous, often causing you to sit down at the nearest tourist trap for an over-priced meal. Alternatively, plan where you'd like to eat ahead of time so that you end up at a restaurant which suits your budget. You'd be surprised at what a significant difference it can make to your overall holiday expenditure by simply reducing the number of times that you eat out.
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