Saving tips: Work that travel budget

2012-09-18 11:14

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Deciding to go on holiday is one thing. Making sure you have the enough money to spend is another. Here are some key things to consider when planning your travel budget for the much anticipated holiday break.

How to get there and where you will be staying are probably the biggest expenses you need to plan for. Not forgetting that exchange rate and the nasty surprises fluctuations can sometimes have up its sleeve.

When booking your airline tickets, it helps to plan as far in advance as possible. Opting for connecting flights can be a pain but consider the huge saving most of them offer. If your budget is tight this is something to consider, it might also be worthwhile to check out your stop-over destination, if time allows.

Purchasing your currency before hand at a locked in currency rate could avoid unexpected foreign exchange rates from eating into your spending money. American Express Global Travel Card not only helps you avoid this but it also gives you safer and easier access to your money and offers free emergency assistance. Global Travel Cardmembers also enjoy destination-based offers, such as the Realise the Potential London program and the Simon Mall Gift Card promotion in key US destinations, as well as access to worldwide Cardmember offers and discounts for travel services, at cafés and restaurants, shopping at retail partners, special event and entertainment offers, lifestyle goods and other areas. Keep in mind that certain terms & conditions apply.

Keep your luggage light to avoid extra expenses. South African Airways has just joined the number of airlines employing the piece baggage concept. One tip for a planned shopping splurge would be to pack old clothes than can be left behind to make space for the new items purchased.

When it comes to accommodation – staying in the heart of the most active part of your destination will most certainly cost you. Scout around for accommodation just outside of the hotspot areas. It may require a 10 to 15 minute commute but it could save you quite a bit on your daily accommodation rate. It will also add some authenticity to your experience as you avoid staying in the touristy spots and mingle more with the locals.

Look around for great holiday package deals – while you might not have total flexibility with your flights you are able to save on the extra includes such as car-rental or a pay for two nights and stay for three nights options.  If you’re travelling in a group you might want to opt for suites with more than one room instead of two separate rooms, it might actually end up being cheaper.

If you want to save on both travel and accommodation expenses you might want to consider travelling off-season. You can actually make the most out of certain destinations by visiting them without the peak season masses.  Getting extended leave approved when the office is full might also be easier – but above all the rates on offer will ensure you save some money.

Undoubtedly the next big expense on the travel budget agenda is the shopping and gift buying.  Remember when travelling abroad you have the option of purchasing things duty free - tax free can sometimes save you a bundle. With normal purchased, it’s also important to keep all your receipts in a safe place, as some countries allow you get all or part of the sales tax back. It will require admin, such as filling out the necessary forms but will give you more spending power, especially if you make electronic purchase such as tablet devices.

Here some other ways to save while abroad you might not have thought about:


-    If you opt for currency exchange in the country you’re visiting do an online search for where to get the best exchange rate, sometimes it might be at the airport or even as convenient as sucking up the back charges and using the ATMs in your chosen destination.

-    If you didn’t opt for a holiday package that includes car rental – remember one way car rentals, where the pickup and drop off locations are different, can really be expensive. Rather break the rental into two segments. If you plan to be in one destination for three days and at the end destination for two, commute between the two and opt for two separate rentals specific to each destinations – it really could save you quite a bit, especially in light of rising fuel costs.

-    Travelling with the kids? Car rental companies more often than not charge for the use of car seats. Keep in mind the extra luggage costs though. Do the math and then book according to what provides you with the best value for money.

-    Travelling with a group? Take advantage of group discounts for things like accommodation or activities – it doesn’t mean you have to do everything together but it will help the travel budget stretch a bit further.

-    Taxis at the airport are never cheap so put the pre-planning in beforehand to make sure you don’t have to fork out. When travelling to Europe, research multi-trip travelling discounts. Metro passes that give you unlimited access for a certain period could be worth the cost if you plan your activities to coincide.

-    Be conscious of the local products available to you in your chosen destination. Things like food and beer are often cheaper when you keep it local.

-    It might even be a good idea to look at a bit of self-catering if you are on an extended break. Opting for this sort of accommodation can also save you quite a bit.

-    When buying gifts for those back home – make a list, it will avoid unnecessary purchases. Talk to the locals who can show you the not so touristy places without the oh-so-touristy prices.

-    If your budget doesn’t allow for an international break at this point, consider a local option. It could give you a week’s break at half the price.

Learn more about the American Express GlobalTravel Card and Cardmember benefits on www.americanexpress.co.za/globaltravel
Read more on:    travel tips  |  travel international
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