Think the best holiday you can afford is one of daily food rations and bed bug infested hostels? Think again. If you’re smart about when you book and know where to go for the best deals, you can holiday like Bey and Jay-Z in the Bahamas. OK, maybe not that luxe but you get our drift. We chatted to lastminute.com.au’s travel expert Louise Ryan to get her tricks to having a 5-star holiday on a zero-star budget…
Tip one: Be flexible
While a direct flight to a destination is pretty appealing, stopping over in other countries on the way can save you a whole lot of clams you can spend on mojitos instead.
“Give yourself an extra day or two to get to your destination and look into great value flights with one or more stopovers,” explains Louise.
“The most direct flights will always be the most expensive, so why not fly to Paris via China with China Southern Airlines? You can also get a bargain flight from Sydney to London return with a Korean airline which includes a 24-hour stopover in Seoul. A number of Korean shops stay open past midnight so there’s always something to do and see making it a great addition to your trip.”
Worth thinking about, right?
Tip two: Be prepared to become a last minute person
Sometimes, being lax about making a booking can actually work in your favour.
“Be spontaneous. If you’re after a beach break, check sales to locations like Bali just before you want to leave and snap up a last minute bargain,” explains Louise.
Tip three: Avoid peak season
Newsflash: school holidays and warmer months are always going to cost more than normal.
“Availability during these times is often low, and prices are high. If you absolutely must travel then, book your flights and accommodation on an early bird rate to get the best value deal,” explains Louise.
Or, you can be sneaky and book just outside of peak seasons. “Prices will be significantly lower and the weather is likely to be the same,” says Louise.
Tip four: Get social
Yes, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are awesome for stalking (and getting jealous of) our friends in exotic locations, but they can also be your source of awesome deals.
“Follow travel brands - this way you’ll be one of the first to know when sales are released,” explains Louise.
Tip five: Get your money’s worth
Rather than just being content with an OK hotel room or package deal, shop around to find places that throw in bonuses without costing extra.
“Keep your eye out for deals with inclusions like free breakfasts, drinks, parking and wi-fi and put those dollars in the holiday kitty for the fun stuff once you’re there,” explains Louise.
Sign up to sites like Airbnb.com.au which allow you to stay in someone’s spare room in a city for cheap.