Travelling cheaply needn’t mean you miss out. If you plan ahead, work out a budget (and stick to it), you can have a better, longer – and cheaper – holiday. Here are six tips on how to make the most of your money.

Give me the main points

  • Look for a cheaper flight and holiday time on a flight comparison site.
  • Cut accommodation costs with homestays and backpacking.
  • Get off the beaten track. Go somewhere not so ‘touristy’ and expensive.
  • Eat cheap – go where the locals go.
  • Look for multiple attraction deals like London Pass®.
  • Make the most of beaches, parks and museums. They're (mostly) free.

Fly for less

Three times as many Australians holiday abroad compared to a decade ago. But one of the few downsides to living in Australia is that you're miles from anywhere. Getting much beyond Bali will cost you. So what can you do to reduce flight costs?

Avoid peak holiday times

Travelling at the height of the European summer, say, not only costs more, it’ll mean half your holiday is spent in a queue.

Book early

It's said the best time to book flights is about 11 weeks before departure.

Compare flights as well as airlines

Remember not all flights cost the same, even if they’re with the same airline. The flight comparison search engines can guide you to good deals. Check out sites like Skyscanner, Hipmunk, Expedia and Adioso.

However, if you decide to book online, be sure to read the small print. Their change/cancellation policies might not be as flexible as you need and cost you more than you save.

Find an inexpensive bed

Halve your accommodation costs and you can travel for twice as long.

Consider homestays. Go into this with the right attitude—be generous and ready to share—and you’ll get a free roof over your head, a tour guide, and a lifelong future friend all wrapped up in one.

Or check out a house swap website. You’ll be surprised to know how many people from Tuscany are eager for a holiday in Tasmania.

If your'e a bit more adventurous or love the outdoors, try backpacking, (no longer just for the young) or camping.

Go somewhere not so obvious

Paris. New York. London.

Of course, the great world cities will always be magnetic places, but there’s a whole world out there. How about Marseille? Portland. Manchester. Belo Horizonte. Naples.

Get off the beaten track. Take the road less travelled. It’s quieter, it’s cheaper, and it’s often more ‘real’. So long as you don’t tell too many people.

Eat like a local

Your greatest cost after accommodation will be food. Take the opportunity to sample the local cuisine – and cook when you can. It’s cheaper.

Don’t waste money going to the fancy, ‘touristy’ restaurants—go where the locals go. Be bold (within reason). Sample street food; head to local markets where food costs a fraction what it might in a supermarket.

Look for deals

Many cities offer all-in-one travel and ‘attractions’ packages. The London Pass®, for instance, offers entry to 60 of the city’s top attractions including all the big ones—the Tower of London, Kensington Palace and Westminster Abbey. Nearly two and half million people have bought the pass; it’ll cost $200 for six days and $100 if you want to try and do everything in a day.

Do your research before you leave home. If you have a smartphone, get a good, cheap mobile data plan. Check out the public transport, perhaps download the transport apps for the cities you’re travelling to. Oh, and a free wi-fi finder app is also worth getting.

Do free stuff

Now put that phone in your pocket. Put on your walking shoes and head out into the world, your head up, your eyes open. The best things of any trip are often free—the parks, the public buildings, the ‘vibe’ you get from being somewhere new, somewhere that’s different to any place, or experience, you’ve had before.

Museums and libraries and galleries are often free, or else cheap. Make the most of them.

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