After two years of closed borders and confinements, 2022 represented the great return of travel.
Then, just when we were finally able to get back there, everything suddenly became much more expensive.
While you obviously don’t want to squander all your savings on vacation, you don’t have to let inflation disrupt those long-awaited travel plans either.
With a little careful planning and a few simple strategies, here’s how to ensure you get your (significantly weakened) bang for your buck, whether you’re vacationing at home or abroad.
* ‘Bonkers’ plane tickets: Why you might be out of luck if you want to get home for Christmas
* Air fares: travelers unhappy with skyrocketing prices
* Does the current exorbitant cost of flights discourage you from travelling?
Understand how airfares work
One of the biggest barriers to travel right now is ridiculously expensive airfares. But if you understand how airlines set their prices, you can avoid paying top dollar for your flights.
Most airlines follow the law of supply and demand. They want to fill as many seats as possible at the highest price passengers are willing to pay.
To do this, they will usually take a flight and distribute all the seats in different price brackets. When they sell the flight, the seats in the cheapest bucket go first. As the plane fills up, they move through the upper buckets, until there are only seats left in the most expensive bucket.
For flights during times of high demand when they know people are going to be desperate to fly – like Christmas and school holidays – there will be fewer tumbled seats in the cheapest buckets. These will therefore be recovered sooner.
On routes where there is more competition – such as flying trans-Tasman – or at times when there is less demand for flights, such as during a weekday, you can expect more seats in the lower buckets. cheaper, to encourage people to travel.
In 2022, with the combination of fewer flights as airlines adjust to a post-Covid world, and huge pent-up demand for travel, most planes were full, which is why we’ve seen more of these crazy prices.
The point to remember is to lock in your flights as soon as possible to snag the cheapest seats, especially if you want to travel at a popular time.
Book your accommodation directly
Either way, use online travel agencies like Booking.com and Expedia to research accommodation options – they’re great for getting an idea of what’s available in your price range.
But once you’ve used them to find your ideal hotel, open a new tab and search for the hotel’s website. Compare the rates offered by online travel agencies with hotel rates.
If the hotel rates seem more expensive, call or email them. In many cases, they’ll at least be able to match the cheapest price – and may offer you extra perks, like a better room or a bottle of wine, for taking the time to book direct (and avoiding them to have to pay the commission of online travel agencies).
In the best case, they will offer you a better rate, which could save you hundreds of dollars.
Also be sure to look for any coupons or discounts offered by the hotel – like 10% off if you sign up for their newsletter – which can also reduce the rate.
Opt for all-inclusive
Even after you’ve booked your flights and accommodation, it’s the extras – taxi rides to your hotel, food and drink, spontaneous sightseeing activities – that can really add up.
The ideal solution if you are prone to overspending? All-inclusive holidays.
Whether it’s a cruise, a resort, or a package that includes flights, accommodation, transfers, and tours, the beauty of this type of vacation is that you know exactly how much it will cost. in advance – and there may be some great deals, especially if you’re willing to travel outside peak hours. Talk to a travel agent for some ideas.
Organize with foreign currencies
With the New Zealand dollar weakening, you might be in for a nasty surprise when you look at your statement and realize that a US$15 cocktail actually costs you closer to NZ$30.
Booking a destination where the NZD goes deeper is a good option – although with exchange rates going up and down minute by minute, there’s no guarantee it will be the same when you will land.
That’s why it’s a good idea to guarantee the optimal fare, by booking and paying for things like activities and tours in advance, and maybe even preloading a travel card.
Consider a credit card that doesn’t have a foreign currency conversion fee, but if you’re using your regular card, always choose to pay in the local currency – no matter how familiar that “pay in NZD” option sounds. This practice, known as “dynamic currency conversion”, offers the crappy exchange rates and charges you extra for the privilege.
Don’t eat all your money
Eating and drinking is naturally the highlight of the holiday. But it is also an expense that is easy to reduce, without depriving yourself completely.
Prioritize the meals that are most important to you. Do you really need to spend $30 on an average hotel breakfast buffet, or could you grab a coffee and pastry from the nearby bakery for $5?
Another budget tip is to make lunch your fanciest meal. Many upscale restaurants offer lunch menus that include many of the same delicious dishes they would offer during their dinner service, but at a cheaper price. Also keep an eye out for daily dining deals and discounts, like Two-for-One Tuesdays.
Don’t feel like you have to dine out every meal either – visiting foreign supermarkets is a very underrated experience. You feel like a local and can get take-out meals at a great price (the wide range of foods available at convenience stores in Japan is a great example of this). Booking accommodation with a kitchenette also makes home-cooked meals more enjoyable.
Finally, resist the overpriced temptations of the airport. Instead, bring your own snacks and a bottle of water.
What are your tips for saving during the holidays? Let us know in the comments.