Budgeting is not a dirty word

By Hannah Silverman

If I had a foreign dollar every time someone told me their holiday plans were shattered because of money issues, I’d have a chateau in the south of France. Or a private jet. In any case, I’d be one rich traveller.

But a little thing like money doesn’t have to get in the way of your dream holiday. Tammy May, director of Australian personal budgeting company MyBudget, helps us identify the biggest mistakes travellers make in the finance department. You’ll be surprised, smart planning can actually make the impossible holiday a very real possibility… and perhaps sooner than you think.

First up, leaving your flights and accommodation to the last minute can burn serious holes in your purse. If you can avoid this, and let’s be realistic sometimes we just can’t, you can dodge paying unnecessary premiums. That means more money to spend on other areas of the trip like shopping, adventure sports, day trips, stop overs.

Tammy says inflexibility can also cause problems.

“Try and plan your destination around a flight sale, or if your heart is set on a destination, have some leeway with the dates so you can look out for when the cheapest flights are,” she says.

“Even if it means delaying your holiday – the longer you wait, the more savings you will have for your spending money.”

Every cent counts when you're working out exactly what you can afford.
Every cent counts when you’re working out exactly what you can afford.

That brings us to spending.

“You can make your budget stretch further if you focus on what is most important for you and compromise on other things,” Tammy says.

“Choose a cheaper accommodation option so you can afford the theme park entry.

“Instead of flying thousands of kilometres away and having less to spend on accommodation, you might choose to have a driving holiday 40 kilometres away and be able to spend the money you saved on flights on a luxury hotel instead.”

When it comes to choosing where to stay, Tammy reminds us to compare apples to apples.

“If you’re comparing two hotels that are the same price, see which one includes a free breakfast,” she says.

“See which one is closer to all the holiday activities you’re planning – you don’t want to get caught out paying for taxis to make up the distance between the cheaper hotel and the more expensive one that was closer to everything.

“Does only one of the hotels have a miniature kitchen – you could save loads of money cooking your own meals in the hotel rather than dining out for your whole holiday.”

Finally, consider all costs, not just the glaringly obvious.

“Are you driving? How much petrol will you be up for? Are you flying? Then is there adequate public transport or will you be paying for taxis, in which case, it might be cheaper to hire a car.”

When you’re actually up and away the financial considerations must continue, Tammy says.

She advises to try not to get carried away with shopping by sticking to your budget.

“Just because you’re on holiday, doesn’t mean you need to use your credit card instead of savings,” Tammy says.

“There’s nothing worse than coming back home with a debt to add to your post holiday blues.”

Setting a daily budget could also prevent you from blowing your whole holiday budget at the start.

Wine Selector Magazine. Wine Tasting at grant Burge Winery, Tanunda.
At 22 Tammy started her business in 1999 – this girl knows her stuff.

Tammy’s top three budgeting tips:

  • Research is the key to getting a good deal – take the time to research online. You can often get good tips from travellers in their reviews of hotels or affordable places to eat close to that hotel. Also check out sites that have cheap travel deals.
  • Anticipate all of your holiday costs – Don’t be caught short, make a holiday budget and stick to it. Your budget items will include transport (airfares, petrol, car hire etc), accommodation, meals, snacks and drinks, entertainment, tours and activities, shopping, travel insurance, costs of visas and vaccinations, and contingency money for unexpected expenses.
  • Be extra conscious of what you are spending – It’s very easy to spend more money when you are on holiday. That is fine as long as it’s within your budget. Just use your money – not the banks!
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