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Low Cost Holidays

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low cost holidays

Low Cost Holidays

Here’s a few tips for low cost holidays. Holidays are one of those items that can really break the bank. Accommodation is expensive, flights, car rental, activities, eating out, special treats…..it all adds up. Sure they’re fun and we tend to splurge and treat ourselves, but that comes with a cost. A bit of forward thinking may help to minimize the cost without destroying the fun! So here we go, my tips for low cost holidays.

Creative Accommodation

Far and away the greatest cost of the average holiday is the cost of accommodation. So this is where the greatest savings are to be found. There’s lots of ways you can have a great holiday, without the resort price. Here’s a few suggestions to keep down those accommodation costs and have low cost holidays.

Search Widely

Later this year we’re off for an overseas trip. This is what the accommodation prices looked like, resorts: $1300-4500/wk, serviced apartments: $600-1500/wk, motels: $400-800/wk, airbnb whole house/apartment: $240-$2500/wk. Notice the massive price range, $240-4500/wk. Of course, you do get more for more cost, but not that much more! In fact the $240 option had great reviews and a nice view. For an extra few grand you really only get a pool, a bigger bed that gets made for you each day and expensive food and services. By paying $240 and not $2000, that leaves plenty more money for fun activities. So shop around for low cost holidays. Check out airbnb, hotel agitators, local real estate agents, gumtree, tourism sites and more. By searching widely you will be able to pick up something good for a decent price.

Book Early

As with all things holidays, leaving it to last minute will probably cost you. Best to plan well ahead and book when all the options are still on the table. If you want to find that great place at a cheap price, it just won’t be there last minute.

Rent out your own home

Short stay rentals are now a big thing with airbnb making this accessible to us all. Back in the day we took a month long trip away. So we decided to rent out our home. We put it up on gumtree under their short term rentals list. Sure enough someone nearby was renovating and didn’t want to pay the exorbitant cost of a serviced apartment.  We met them chatted and realized they’d take care of our place. They got a whole house on the cheap and the income we got fully covered all our accommodation costs for the holiday. A win-win all round. So if you’re taking off for more than a week, think about renting out your home while you are away. You don’t need it and it’s probably safer being lived in anyway.

Share rent

A bit of forward planning and some decent friends or family is all it takes to cut costs. Going on holidays with some friends or family is a great way to do it. And it’s fun. There’s plenty of holiday homes that can accommodate a big group and allow you some privacy. You don’t have to do everything together, but it can really add to a holiday to share it with others you enjoy being with. And ofcourse, you cut your costs in half or more. So get organised and plan to go on a holidays with some friends and family and lower your overall costs.

House swap

Similar to renting your home, there are lots of house swap websites today. For example, homelink, Aussie house swap, and home exchange to name a few. We have friends who are addicted to this. They houseswap all the time. It does mean being a bit flexible and planning ahead. But chances are there’s someone wanting to go to where you live at the same time you would be happy to explore their backyard. And the cost savings are massive. This is a great way to do international holidays too. Cut the cost of accommodation to $0. What a great idea.

Stay with friends and family

Yes, we all do this. Just know when you’ve outstayed your welcome! One of our yearly holidays always involves 3 or 4 nights with some good friends. It cuts the cost of our holiday, but is also great fun catching up. In fact, it’s always the highlight of our trip. So crash with some friends or family, just remember to return the favor and help around the home.

Go Low Season

Travelling when demand is low is always going to save you cash. So if possible, avoid the holiday seasons. This applies not only to accommodation, but transport and activities are often cheaper in low season too. Of course, if you can’t avoid it, try some of the other tips to reduce costs.


If you can contact the owner of a home directly, you can negotiate. Holiday home owners want someone in a home and if it’s empty, they are going to take a reasonable offer under the asking price. It doesn’t hurt to ask! And we’ve found that you can often score a cheaper holiday. And if you know someone who rents a place, ask them to let you know of vacancies at an agreed ‘cheaper price.’ Again, they would rather get something than nothing!


I know, it’s not for everyone, but camping is cheap. One of our regular trips to family is a two day drive. Now we could spend $200 at a motel for a night. Instead, we camp for $20 at a secure and nice caravan park on the way. That’s a big saving. It’s now our norm, we always camp on long driving trips if we have to stay overnight. Often this is free or very cheap. Now we are not great campers, so 2 or 3 days is our families max. But often we do camp and that makes a big difference to the overall cost of the holiday. So instead of 7 nights at the resort or home, book 5 and then go camp for a couple nights at a nice location. It’s an experience you rarely forget! And you can stay at some amazing locations.

Lower Cost Transport

Low cost holidays mean cutting the cost of transportation. This is often the next biggest cost or even the biggest for that overseas jaunt. As is often the rule, forward planning is the key. Here’s a few tips for keeping down transport costs for low cost holidays.

Rent when Needed, Not the Whole Time

When you get a rental car, the tendency is to book for your whole stay. What a waste. Most of the time it sits in the garage or there may be alternative cheaper options available. If you’re in a city you are better off using public transport. And only hire a vehicle if you absolutely must and only for the time needed. And shop around, prices vary a lot! You save a lot by only renting for a day here and there.

Borrow, if you can.

You may never have thought of this. But we’ve borrowed transport on holidays on several occasions. Sometimes from friends or family in the local area who are happy to let us borrow their car for a day. At other times we’ve got to know people on our way and borrowed their car. We always make sure it’s insured and return it with a full tank of petrol. Once we borrowed a car for a month, we just paid for a full service before returning it.

Stay in a well serviced area

It can pay to stay in a place where there’s good access to public transport and services. That means you don’t need to hire a vehicle and can walk, ride or use public transport. Think ahead about how you are going to get around when you think of where to stay.

Avoid Airport Transfer Costs

Airports are havens to rip you off on transport. But a quick google search and a look at goolge maps can really save you heaps. For example, at Sydney airport, walk to Green square station from the airport and then catch the train. You save the $16 airport fee and get a nice walk after your trip. The same can be done at most airports around the country and the world. We’ll be doing this on our next overseas trip and saving $20 each way. It’s a small thing, but it all adds up.

Use Points

For flights, we often use points to pay. Our credit card that we pay off in full earns points throughout the year. It’s usually enough for trips that require a plane. This effectively cuts out this cost. We’ve taken countless trips on points and are heading overseas this year to a pacific island the same way. Of course, if there’s a really cheap flight we’ll just pay and save the points for when we most need it. But points are a great way to get to your destination.

Activities that Don’t Break the Bank

After accommodation and transport, what you do is going to be your next biggest cost. The choices you make will determine how much pain you feel when you get back home. Tourist places thrive off the desire for you to splurge on holidays. We’ll pay for things on holidays that we never usually would even consider. So maybe think about what you are going to say yes to and why.

Make the Most of What is Free

?Some of the most wonderful hoiday experiences I’ve had have cost nothing. Climbing to the top of a snow covered peak, sneaking to the roof of an inner city building, relaxing at the beach. Nature without a doubt offers the most spectacular activities and usually for free, so take advantage. We love the beach, climbing mountains and checking out lookouts. Then there’s museums, city walks, parks, free gigs and plenty of other things to do for free. Ask around the locals and they’ll tell you the cheap or free activities on offer. They don’t have the cash to splurge, so do what they do!

Cook a Little

Eating out at every meal is not only bad for you but is a costly exercise. For sure you don’t want to cook every meal. But taking a few staples with you will make for a far cheaper holiday. Even making nicer than average food will be cheaper than eating out constantly, unless you’re in Thailand or somewhere amazingly cheap. As a rule we cook most of our meals and make eating out a special thing a couple of times. For this reason we prefer to stay in a place with a decent kitchen. Strangely, often the most expensive places are the very ones without a kitchen. Avoid them!

Eat Like a Local

For a while we lived in a tourist town. We all knew the overpriced places for tourists and the places for the locals. Find those ones! You just have to ask. The same goes throughout the world. Find the place the locals like to eat. It’s usually nicer, cheaper and lot better atmosphere.

Avoid Tours and Tourist Traps

When you’re on a holiday you are always being upsold something. Tours and popular tourist attractions are often disappointing for what they charge. So get off the beaten track and get to know the place you visit. Ask around for the best places to go and things to do. you’ll find that a bit of local advice will lead you to activities that are far cheaper and lot more fun and adventurous. I’ve lost count of the most amazing places we’ve found and never would have, without asking someone their favorite spots. This is how you find the amazing walks and fishing spots and scenery. So no need to follow blindly the well worn tourist tracks. Make your own way and it will cost you a lot less.


Travel forums are great. You can learn a lot from others who have been there and done that. Reading widely before you go will give you a good idea of what to avoid and what to try. What might disappoint and what might be truly amazing. Of course there will be a wide range of opinions. But a little research before you go can be great. You can find out the best places to shop and eat and visit. Create a bit of a bucket list and you can have plenty of adventures. And don’t forget to add to that some local knowledge, they know better than anyone. So get to know people, ask questions and you’ll have a low cost holiday and make some new friends along the way too!

Spend Only On The Best Experiences

If you are going to splurge on an activity or fancy restaurant, that’s fine. Chances are you’re savings in other areas mean you can without making a huge dent. It’s worth trying new things and new experiences. Just be selective. Spend on the things that will give the most bang for their buck. Like snorkelling the great barrier reef, doing the milford track or eating a mind blowing meal. Some experiences are worth the cost. So go for it, knowing that you’ve saved so much elsewhere to pay for it.

Lastly, low cost holidays are not low fun holidays. Just the opposite. You can have an amazing time without spending the thousands that others are. Most of it is simply wasted money on the dream of the perfect holiday. That’s what you are being sold and it just isn’t true. So don’t believe the lie. Go for some cheaper options, get to know the locals and have an amazing time with a lot lower cost. Your low cost holidays might just be better holidays that you thought. Be wise.


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