Full-time Kiwi travellers share their secrets to saving money
Source: https://www.stuff.co.nz/news/113412472/-

2019-06-11 21:49:22

We live in a golden age of travel, but by the time you add hotels, transport and activities - it can all add up.

Full-time Kiwi travellers Brook Sabin and Radha Engling share their secrets of saving money after three years on the road.

1. The secret to Airbnb discounts

Airbnb is a game changer - but most people don't know the secret trick to use the accommodation sharing app to its full advantage.

First up, we need to deal with the misconceptions about Airbnb. It's not just about sharing a house with someone; there are plenty of options for entire houses/apartments and even hotels are listed.

But the best tip for using the app is to bargain. Airbnb has thousands of people in each city vying for your business. Most are desperate to fill their property, so message a couple, and ask if they'd be willing to do a discount. Airbnb has a mechanism that allows the homeowner to send you a "special offer" - we find about 80 per cent of the time, this works - especially if the destination is off-season.

This has got us some significant discounts, especially for longer stays - in Norway, we stayed at a lakeside lodge for 50 per cent off.

2. Discount codes on ride-sharing apps

Taxis are history - most large cities now have ridesharing, and it's considerably cheaper.

Whether it's Australia, Asia or Europe - if apps like Uber, Ola or Grab are available, use them for cheaper rides. You also eliminate the risk of being scammed; some unscrupulous taxi drivers love taking tourists for unexpectedly long rides. However, with ride-sharing: the app takes away a lot of the risk.

In Sri Lanka, for example, tuk-tuk drivers are notorious scammers. Ride-sharing apps there have started to clean up the industry.

Always research what ride-sharing apps are available at the destination, then look for the best discounts available. Apps like Ola offer 50 per cent off your first two weeks of use, so you can ride away during your holiday for less.

3. Search wisely

Hotel and flight comparison websites often lead to lower prices.

We use a flight consolidator like edreams.com - they bulk-buy tickets and provide them to consumers for a discount. However, they will try and add lots of extras, so be very wary. I've also had to contact their customer support, and never heard back from them.

Sites like skyscanner.com also allow you to search an entire month for the cheapest fares; great if you have a bit of flexibility.

Often it's best to use sites like cheapflights.co.nz to compare offers, then go to the airline direct and book there.

4. Find free activities

Often the best things to do at a destination are free. Take New Plymouth for an example, where nine out of ten of the top-rated activities don't cost a cent.

5. Overnight flights save a night on accommodation

Red-eye flights are awful, but they do have a money saving tip - you're often saving a night's accommodation. However, if it's a short trip - consider whether the lack of sleep is worth it.

6. Forget your rental excess

If you're renting a vehicle, you'll likely be scared into buying insurance after the rental agent tells you of the $3000 excess for any damage. They will then try and sell you an excess reduction. For just, say $30 a day, this can be reduced to zero excess. If you're renting the car for a week, this is a $210 extra fee.

However, what many don't realise is most travel insurance policies will cover the rental excess.

We use multi-trip policies from the likes of 1Cover and NIB - this covers you for unlimited trips during the year. The great thing about these policies is that they often cover domestic trips too. So all our car rentals, both in New Zealand and overseas, have the excess covered - this has saved us thousands over the years.

We also always pay the little extra to have our travel insurance excess reduced to zero - if you travel often, this will prove worth it.

7. Hire from smaller companies

When recently travelling to Christchurch I found smaller companies like Snap, Hitch and Go significantly cheaper than the bigger companies like Hertz and Budget. Similarly, car rental comparison websites can be useful for tracking down great deals.

8. Group discount sites

It always pays to check group discount sites like Tripadeal and Luxury Escapes. They bulk buy accommodation, offering it at discounted prices. Air New Zealand also offers bulk discount package holidays, through the Grabaseat app - just look under the 'packages' banner.

9. Local sim card

If you're away for a while, it'll work out cheaper to buy a local sim card at the airport with a tourist package of data. Overseas roaming is expensive.

10. Pet sitting

If you're going on a longer trip, and want to save money, consider pet sitting or Workaway. This scheme will see you do a certain amount of work, in exchange for free accommodation. For example, I met a couple in Samoa who did a day of reception work - then could stay the rest of the week without charge. Be careful to check the visa requirements - and obtain necessary permits - as governments are cracking down on this practice.

11. Don't change currency at the airport

You'll pay a premium - simple as that. You'll often see signs saying 'zero commission' - which are meaningless - the money exchange will just be making money through a mark-up in the exchange rate. Always get your phone out, and look up the actual exchange rate before committing to a place like this. You'll be shocked.

The better option is to head into town and exchange money, use a credit card to pay or get money out of an ATM.

Be wary, when paying with your card overseas, you'll often be given the choice of paying in the local currency or New Zealand dollars. This is a huge money-making trick by the banks, and we're all falling for it.

Instinct would tell you selecting NZD would be cheaper. However, it's not - paying in local currency always works out a few per cent cheaper because your bank simply converts the charge, and adds a few percentage points commission. If you choose NZD, the foreign bank will do the currency conversion, and they charge a premium.

What do you think? What are your money saving tips? Share your wisdom with fellow travellers in the comments below.

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