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Monday, 17 February 2014

Travel Tips

I have spent literally hours - and I mean about 15 hours on the weekend, looking at flights and accommodation to try and shave off dollars on our pending holiday. While I love travel agents, and thoroughly recommend using them where possible, I simply cannot afford to sometimes. With a family of 5, every dollar that isn't spent on travel costs, can be spent on food or activities.

These long wasted hours are worth it, if you shave off $3000 in flight costs and $1000 here or there in hotel costs. As this has been consuming my every waking moment, it's all I can think of to blog about so forgive this little detour.

However, here is what I've learnt the hard way, to save you time:

1. Sometimes on budget carriers, it is cheaper to fly in with one and fly out with another. This is the opposite of normal airlines.

2. Make sure you book luggage.

3. In hotel speak, adjoining rooms do not mean connecting rooms. You are asking for connecting rooms. You will not necessarily get it. However, make sure your hotel ACTUALLY has some for you to request. There are a lot of hotels that don't. In some countries, a bungalow nearby is deemed the same thing, or the room next door is the family offer.

4. If you are a family with 3 or more kids, it will take some time to find a suitable hotel. You will probably be charged for a bed. If you are allowed to add a bed, in many cases, you aren't.

5. Taxes. I could write a book on this one. I have had friends book a week online, only to get a bill for over $1000 in taxes on check out. It is written in the fine print, quite clearly on the websites, but where it gets tricky, is that some countries build it in to the quoted room rate, and some don't. Most countries separate it, so it may be 10% Govt tax, 7.7% bed tax and some other 5% tax, adding a further 22.7% to your room bill. Malaysia quotes prices tax inclusive, Singapore & Thailand you need to add it in yourself. I kept looking at hotels, thinking I could afford them, only to discover with the tax, I couldn't.

6. If you can't afford the beautiful beach resort, or they don't have family accommodation, get better accommodation on the mainland and spend some bucks on a day trip, or split the trip with just 2 nights on the island and the rest elsewhere.

7. Always travel with insurance. Always.

8. Sign up to every hotel reward programme (if free), even if you think you will never stay there again. You may get free upgrades, free internet or even a free night, or sometimes special prices booking through their site.

I know these things seem logical, or a hassle, but for us, it has shaved off a considerable amount off our trip. Using the travel agent to the Maldives saved us over $2200, because the wholesaler somehow avoided taxes and bundled up dinners. Always check and don't assume which way is cheaper.

We are almost all sorted, still more expensive than I'd like, but less than initially quoted. Only one last lot of accommodation to sort out for the 16 day trip.

I've had a headache for the last 2 days from staring at the internet for too long. I apologise for neglecting comments, link ups and all other connections. Normal transmission will resume next week!


  1. It's amazing how much you can save doing it yourself. Back in 2006 I got a family trip for 5 to the USA down from my original quote of $15000 to $9500. That's significant! The surfing the net and the constant phone calls bouncing each travel source off each other was worth it.
    Well done on your deal!
    Happy holidays :)
    Leanne @ Deep Fried Fruit

  2. Wow. Those are some big savings! It is a lot of hard work booking a holiday. We've recently booked one to NZ and I did it online, but wondered whether it would be cheaper to go to an agent. Also, I couldn't see online where you can buy travel insurance. Should I go to a travel agent for this? Seems I need to do my own research. Good luck finalising your holiday. You'll need one after all of this!

    1. Go to a travel agent and grab theres, or if you have a certain CBA credit card, and you booked the trip with that card, you get automatic insurance - get the insurance brochure because you need that for the numbers and to check what is covered.

  3. You are forgiven you lucky bugger!
    Doing all this work will definitely help to make the trip more relaxing and enjoyable in the end.

  4. Definitely worth the hassle! You better keep us all in the loop with details of your fabulous holiday Lydia x

  5. I'm doing the same crazy ring around for our Tokyo Disney trip this year. Flights were much cheaper to do ourselves but the hotel was much better through the TA. Now I have the fun of checking the insurance included on our credit card. So much work but the trip will be totally worth it

  6. My hubby is the travel bargain guru! He will search and get quotes and compare and compete and honestly, the money is better in my pocket than anywhere else! It is so good that we have so many options these days xx

  7. Woah! $1,000 in taxes! An incidental that can so easily be overlooked.
    It took us forever to find interconnecting room on our trip to Bali 2 years ago. It took a bit of research and drama but we did eventually find it.

  8. We haven't gone on a big holiday for ages, so I hadn't ever thought about this kind of stuff. It's the thing Boatman would do though. He explores every possible avenue to save money. Why spend it of you don't have to?

  9. Lucky you off on a 16 day overseas holiday!
    When I was looking at accommodation for Problogger last year I ended up joining the hotel rewards club instead of using the deal that PB had organised. For the same price I managed to also score dinner for 2 at the restaurant, $50 drinks card at the cocktail bar and buffet breakfast each morning. With the restaurant being $70 a head I was pretty excited to test it out, knowing that it wasn't something I could usually afford. Thankfully it lived up to expectations!

  10. Some very good tips because I want to go away next year for a decent family holiday and so am putting money aside so we can not skimp too much. Taxes, never thought about these. The Maldives, is that very exxy? I've heard such great things about it. x

    1. The Maldives is $$ look for sales (Singapore Airlines) or if you went Scoot to Sing, then Tiger to Male, you could get the airfares down to $700 return, which is amazing!!
      The problem with the Maldives is finding interconnecting rooms. We stayed here, and it was lovely, but you are close to the capital, so can see it and other islands from it. That said, I loved it and would recommend it to anyone.

  11. Take me! Take me!! Only four weeks into school term and I have a sudden urge to go on holiday. Where are you heading??

  12. Those taxes are crazy! I go to a travel agent for a variety of reasons, lack of time to research and the fact that they are the professionals being the two main ones. Now having read your post I wish I had the time and was brave enough to do it myself!

  13. I always find it hard to book for our family of five. In terms of travel everything seems geared towards families of three and four. And don't get me started on the lack of interconnecting rooms. Once when my kids were still quite young the hotel wanted to give us two rooms on different floors! I don't think so!


  14. Wow those are massive savings! Thanks for the great tips on what to watch out for. We are currently saving up for two events still this year - hopefully both trip will happen :)