How to save for a holiday (and what to do if you run out of money overseas)

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So, you’ve decided you want to see the whole world but you have none of the money?

There’s no worse homecoming than crippling debt, but how do you even begin to save for the holiday of your dreams? Chris from Lonely Planet has dropped in to provide some solicited advice, since he says whenever he travels he comes back with money.

Set yourself a travel savings target

  • Sounds obvious but it’s really the best thing to get yourself started. So first up, define the amount you want to save and write it down.
  • Pop the coin away in a ‘no access’ or hard to access account (e.g. no paywave). 
  • Syphon money directly from your pay into the account — you’ll never miss it.
  • Set up a weekly or fortnightly direct debit for a smaller amount into you ‘no access’ account, then you won’t have the trauma of it coming out in a big sum at the end of the month.

Pay for stuff before you go

  • Try and pay for as much as possible prior to departure (especially accommodation) so you’re not stung with “extra” charges whilst you’re away.
  • When you book in advance there’s often ‘pay on departure’ option — avoid this if you can.
  • Paying upfront means that the coin you have with you is all spending money.

Go all inclusive

  • There’s loads of advantage to joining a group tour, whether it be small or large.
  • It’s clear upfront what’s included i.e. accommodation, transfers, meals, entrance fees etc.
  • It’s also clear what’s not included i.e. meals during your free time, some entrance fees.
  • Tours often jump queues saving you buckets of time.
  • If you’re booking a hotel or resort ensure go for a place that has breakfast included (by loading up with a big brekkie you’ll probably only need to fund one meal a day).

Ditch the Hotel or Hostel

  • The social economy exists for a reason! For anyone who’s going it alone or can’t bear the thought of a crowded bus tour…
  • Share an apartment, couch or house on booking sites like Air BnB, Couchsurfing or the Room Exchange (where you get free accom for doing some unpaid work).
  • If you can water plants and love dogs: try housesitting as a brilliant alternative. Check out Trusted Housesitters.

Avoid the credit card, get a travel card instead

  • Most of the big dramas with credit cards always hit after the holiday.
  • Most financial institutions offer great rate travel cards which lock in currency at a fixed exchange rate.
  • Travel cards allow you to add more cash to them via BPAY.
  • Travel cards work in most overseas ATMs and you’re using your own money not credit.
  • If you lose the card or it’s stolen you can block it and have it replaced quickly.
  • Also, have a currency converter on your phone so you can always check how much you’re spending.

Some stories and key learnings to be found amongst the textline:

☏ I sucked my mates toes for $60 when I ran out of money in Bali

☏ My boyfriend ran out of money overseas. He decided to go busking. Then he got arrested for busking. So he just waited in jail while they fed him every day, then his mum sent the money to bail him out the day he was due to fly out, and he was released and fly home. What a legend. Grace in Canberra

 I blew 7.5k 10 days into my 7 month trip in Canada, was so broke for the rest of my time Ben from Orange

☏ Was in japan and had 2k ready for the trip and accidentally spent it on some stocks, which then dropped in price so had to take it pretty easy for a few weeks – Jake

☏ I had my accounts frozen while overseas due to suspicious activity. It was me I was the suspicious activity. They forgot I told them I was going overseas. Ava Mt Druitt

 I ran out of money in swiss alpes Switzerland when i was 18. I ran into hostels and took food from the communal fridges, slept on dorm floors my friend would book and i would climb threw window. Stole corn and apples from huge farm land, and took water from the waterfalls, lived like that for 2 weeks until mum bailed me out haha Angus xx

☏ While riding a bicycle from Scotland to Morocco I ran out of money. For the ten days it took to get money wired across to Spain from another account in Australia, I managed to live off an onion and a tomato each day and the vous vous i already had, often asking farmers for extra bits of fruit and veg to keep me going. Far from an ordeal, it remains on of the most ‘Alive’ and happy times of my life. Matt from Broome

☏ I have a few friends that intentionally run out of money so their parents pay for the return flights… dirty flippin kids. Hayden from coburg

☏ I once got charged 1500 at the Peruvian border with my dog and car. For an over stay . It was my last savings and I had to work as a horse tour guide for 3 months before they let me leave the country

☏ I experienced problems withdrawing cash from my bank account while driving through Italy. Spent a week in a tiny tiny town sleeping in a car park in my van, foraging spinach and oranges from the side of the road until an old Italian lady practically dragged me into her place and fed me dinner. We could barely understand each other, but she came back every day after that with more food. Shout out also to the Australian couple who gave me all their change so I could buy petrol. In s, Yulara. NT

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