Travel Budget Tips | How to Save Money On Your Vacation

This post has been written in partnership with Southern Cross Travel Insurance, however all opinions and advice are my own, and are in no way influenced by this fact.

Congratulations! You've put a budget plan in place and now you're reaping the rewards by vacationing in Paris. But let's rewind. You've worked hard to save up for your vacation and tourists are easy prey for expensive everything. Let's look at ways to save money on your vacation and get the most out of those savings.

Before you leave

Pay for as much as possible in advance. Even if you like to go with the flow and don't like a structured itinerary, there are some big ticket items that you can factor in before you walk out your front door.

Purchase airfares, train passes, bus tickets or any other transport that can be pre-paid ahead of time. You'll often receive a better deal by booking in advance (especially with airfares). Always check for hidden charges too, sometimes airfare prices don't include things you need like baggage and meals, so be sure to factor those into the cost.

If you need to rent a car, it's definitely worthwhile shopping around. I've been quoted wildly different prices between third party websites and the car rental company direct. For example, when I rented a car in the USA, I received quotes from $1500 - $9000 for the same car from the same car hire company. If I didn't know better I might have ended up paying a lot more than I needed to (not that I'd ever spend $9000 on car rental, sheesh!) There are also community sourced car rental schemes, so explore the options available at your destination.
Top tip: 
If you are browsing travel websites and search a second time, you may notice the price jumps up! This is often accompanied by an urgent flashing message stating that there's only a few seats/vehicles/rooms left. This may be the case, but just for fun, try clearing your cookies or searching again in another browser. You may be surprised to see the price go back down to the original quote. Don't get caught in the travel-buying panic trap!

The options you have for accommodation will vary wildly based on your budget. Regardless of your budget though, here are some budget-friendly tips so you can spend your hard-earned elsewhere.

If you have friends in high places, or just desirable places, consider staying with them (if it's mutually agreeable) and be absolutely sure to show them the same hospitality in return! Always be a good houseguest and consider a generous thank you gift for their kindness.

This may work best if you're a single traveler, but there are websites such as that will hook you up with a couch! Make sure you check the person's reviews and feel comfortable before committing to staying with a stranger - and be prepared to meet some new friends.

It can be cheaper than a hotel to look at community sourced accommodation such as Airbnb. An added benefit is seeing the destination from a more local and personal perspective than you would get at many hotels.

For more luxury accommodation, there are several options to get the most out of your budget and experience. If your hotel is part of a chain, become a member to access exclusive discounts, points, rewards and extras such as included breakfasts and free stays. There are several hotel deal websites. I've personally used Jetsetter, which offers exclusive discounts to a few hotels each week. If you're travelling a lot, the stars may align (or you might snaffle a short getaway close to where you live). We stayed in a few fancy hotels in the USA that we wouldn't have even considered without this site.

I always purchase travel insurance. While it seems like a drag, I think it's essential, especially when you are travelling by plane (or other expensive transport). Also, if you're in an unfamiliar place or foreign country, you get peace of mind that if something goes wrong, you'll be covered. Something I always do when purchasing insurance is throughly read the fine print (boring, I know). It's important to understand exactly what you are covered for, and what the excess charges will be if you need to make a claim. I'll also double check that my belongings I'm taking with me are sufficiently covered, especially my laptop and camera gear. There are often item limits on what you can claim, so make sure nothing you take exceeds these individual limits. At the end of the day, insurance is inexpensive, especially when you weigh it up against the cost of rebooking flights, replacing lost/stolen belongings or paying medical bills. Southern Cross Travel Insurance offer great deals on insurance, you can visit their website to get a quote on your next trip. Most insurance covers you from the date of purchase, so I usually purchase mine as soon as I buy my tickets so that if anything goes wrong before I leave, I am covered.

While You're There

If you don't mind flying by the seat of your pants, try booking at the last minute. Hotels can offer great discounts in order to fill a room when they receive cancellations or are having a quiet night. I think my best coup was scoring an enormous room at a Sheraton Hotel in Japan for just over $100. I think the room was bigger than my house! Much more extravagant than my usual accommodation but a memorable experience created by not having a plan.

It's tempting to treat yourself every day when you're on holiday, but you can save a lot of money by self-catering. If your hotel has a kitchenette, consider making a packed lunch before you head out for the day. I love exploring supermarkets in new places, so it's a good excuse to immerse yourself in the local atmosphere and get supplies at the same time!

Remember, you're on holiday. If you can plan ahead with the big-ticket items, you can save a lot of financial stress while you're trying to enjoy yourself. Even if you're a planner, try to leave a few things up to chance, you might be surprised by a small bed and breakfast that you find when you make a wrong turn, or discover a town you didn't see on the map. If you have too rigid plans, you miss these neat surprises. So don't sweat the small details, cover the big stuff and everything else will fall into place.

Do you have any tips for saving on vacation costs?