JETTING off to the Greek islands or booking a Byron beach pad can seem out of reach when family finances are tight.
But by thinking outside of the box, planning ahead and doing your homework, travellers on a shoestring can make their holiday dreams come true.
Aussies spend $63.6 billion a year on domestic and international travel, Suncorp figures show, and these simple tips can help your dollar stretch further.
LIVE LIKE A LOCAL
Why pay for accommodation when you can get a house for free?
House swapping and house-sitting sites like Mindahome and Home Exchange are a great option if you are willing to invest the time and effort in setting up a profile, and doing interviews with homeowners. You may need to look after pets but could end up saving a bundle by living like a local in houses and apartments, from the South of France to the Scottish highlands.
CHECK IN TO NEW HOTELS
Keep your eyes peeled for the new kids on the accommodation block with many offering heavily discounted rates to fill rooms.
Brady Hotels Group has slashed the room price at its new Jones Lane Hotel in Melbourne by 35 per cent for one night, and 40 per cent for two, to lure travellers for its August opening.
General Manager Robert Moore also recommends bargain hunters follow their favourite hotel chains on social media and sign up for email newsletters.
“Often they’ll advertise bespoke sales and specials for their subscribers first, or even exclusively,” he said.
He said most hotels offered discounts of up to 50 per cent for bookings made outside of 30 days.
In Bali, bartering isn’t just for Bintang T-shirts or scooter rides. Many private villa operators and hoteliers are open to moving on price, particularly if you want to stay longer. And it can work in other countries too, according to Anthony Bianco, who runs The Travel Tart blog.
“What I’ve done in the past is go to the hotel aggregators, and then when I’ve found a decent price, I call the hotel directly to see if they can go lower,” he said.
“They often do because they are cutting out the middle man.”
FLY TO CHEAPER AIRPORTS
If you have a little extra time up your sleeve, flying in and out of alternative airports such as Avalon in Victoria, and the Gold Coast in Queensland can pay off. Just ensure the cost of commuting to your final destination doesn’t eat up the savings.
Using flight comparison sites like Skyscanner or Webjet can also land you a cheap flight deal.
ROAD TRIPPING FOR $1
For a dirt cheap road tripping break, car and campervan rental relocation sites like Imoova are the ultimate ticket to ride around Australia — and the world.
The idea is that you return a rental vehicle to a specified drop-off spot for a rental company, and save a packet on the cost and fuel. For example, you could jump in a luxury six-berth luxury campervan with $250 worth of fuel between Orlando and New York for just $1 a night.
FREQUENT FLYER HACKS
Warning — this is not for the shopping addicts among us.
Racking up frequent flyer points through credits cards (sites like Finder.com.au compare the best deals), or gaming the loyalty rewards schemes is a popular way to win the business/first class jackpot.
But the quest for a free flight (don’t forget the fees) can end up costing you more due to high interest rates, and the pressure to fulfil the minimum spend requirements.