For many of us, our last overseas trip was that jaunt through Asia or Europe as a backpacker in our 20’s. But for so many Australians, the travel bug continues to bite with Tourism Research Australia reporting that the number of Australians taking overseas holidays continues to increase with departures up 6% to 5.5 million during 2014.
If you have an overseas adventure on your ‘bucket list’ and gaze lustfully at the pages of travel magazines in the newsagent or tease yourself by following travel instagrammers then here’s 8 steps to help make your own overseas dream holiday happen.
1. Pick an affordable destination
If Europe seems out of your reach financially, have you considered our more affordable neighbours in Asia? Destinations such as Bali in Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand or Cambodia are family friendly and affordable. You can combine adventure, outdoor activities, beach resorts, cultural experiences and great food for a holiday destination to suit all budgets.
2. Make your credit card work for you
Credit cards are a fact of life. Make sure that yours is working for you though and put it to work by linking it to a reward program that can be converted to travel miles. Do your research to find the best card to maximise the points you receive for your spending.
3. Be an early bird
If you can’t accumulate points to travel overseas, look out for early bird fares and specials from October each year as the savings can be significant.
Attend the travel expo’s offered around Australia each year. These often coincide with the release of early bird fares and there are bargains to be had and there are now Expo’s being held at the beginning of the year to help those of us who are keen to get planning and booking.
Be on the look out for the release of new routes for existing airlines too. These fares are often released at bargain rates to generate publicity. When Jetstar started flying to Phuket in 2007, I picked up tickets for $AUD39 (+taxes) one way from Sydney to Phuket (see tip 4).
4. Sign up…
For newsletters, for email alerts, to be a member. That way you’ll be among the first to hear about discounts, specials, early bird releases and new routes so that you can act quickly. In 2011, as I was thinking about redeeming some frequent flyer points for a trip to Paris, I received an email alert from the airline highlighting that I could save 15-30% on redemption (points) bookings by booking online. #win
5. Find affordable (or free) accommodation
Behind flights, the second largest hit on your wallet when travelling is your accommodation. When you need to accommodate two adults and two or three children, the cost of a hotel room for a week is astronomical (not to mention the challenge of sharing a small, confined space).
I’m a passionate user of holiday rentals, both in Australia and overseas. They’re cost effective and make travelling so much easier for families. There are a wealth of reputable owner direct holiday rental sites where you’ll save money by dealing directly with the owner not with a management agency. Also check out these recommendations for holiday rentals in France for less than $100 AUD per night or these Italian holiday rentals which you can book for $150 AUD or less per night. Honestly, that’s cheaper than I paid for a hotel room on my trip down the Pacific Highway after a holiday in QLD!
For an even more affordable option (i.e. free), try a house swap for accommodation in your chosen dream destination. A quick search of an Australian based house swap site today resulted in a beautiful villa with an infinity swimming pool in Phuket Thailand, where the family is seeking a house exchange with a family in Sydney. Free accommodation does exist!
6. Don’t travel in high season
Life before you had to worry about school holidays was so much easier and cheaper. But if you can manage travelling outside of peak season and not during school holidays, you’ll reap the benefits.
Travelling to Europe can be more affordable before June and after September when you can enjoy the highlights of the season without the high season price tag.
And will it really matter if you’re children miss school for a trip to Thailand or Vietnam when they’ll learn so much about another country and culture.
7. Link your dream to something real
I knew that I wanted to celebrate this momentous occasion somewhere in the Greek Islands…and that’s just what we did, followed by a two week stay in a farmhouse in France.
Now everytime we have a ‘0’ or ‘5’ birthday approaching in our household (and they keep coming!), we begin planning for a dream overseas holiday to help
ease the pain celebrate the occasion. There’s a 3 years age difference between my husband and I so there’s pretty much always something on the holiday planning horizon.
8. Do it
Get a piece of paper. Write down your dream destination. Pick a date. Calculate how much you’ll need to save/spend. Now work on steps 1 – 7. Book and go.