Ask an Adviser: How can I save when planning the trip of a lifetime?

Published on: July 1st, 2024

As a nation, we love to travel. In fact, research house IBIS World is predicting our international travel will grow by a whopping 360.8% this year, equating to some 7.28 million departures. For many of us, however, the cost-of-living pressures have postponed grand travel plans. On the bright side, we have more time to plan ahead. Here, Apt Senior Adviser and resident travel enthusiast Tracey Pace shares her tips to save when planning the trip of a lifetime.

According to Tracey, ‘the devil is in the details’ when it comes to planning a cost-effective trip. “It’s not always about focusing on the upfront cost of a particular component, but rather the value you will derive from it. And that’s going to be different for everyone,” she says.



Flying has always been expensive from Australia, but in the wake of COVID, costs have risen further on many routes. So, no matter the class you want to travel, whether you favour some airlines, or want direct or stopover, Tracey says it’s worth comparing to find the best deals.

“Using comparison sites like Skyscanner or Webjet can be a great way to see what’s on offer across multiple airlines. And if you have flexibility on your departure date, they’ll often highlight when you can get a better price around your chosen dates. Flights can be cheaper on some days, particularly mid-week, so it can save a few hundred dollars,” she says.

Tracey says that although comparison sites are good for reviewing alternatives, she usually buys directly from the airline, finding this to be the most cost-effective option.

She also points out that the lowest price doesn’t always equate to the best value.

“Flexible fares will usually cost a little more, but changing cheaper fare classes may result in losing some or all the original fare. So, the extra upfront cost may be worth it if there is a chance you will need to make changes.”

And when it comes to direct versus stopover flights, Tracey adds that it’s important to factor in what the stopover will cost when weighing up the price difference.

“You may end up spending money on expensive airport food, short-term airport accommodation, lounge access or purchases to keep the kids (or yourself!) entertained. So, you need to factor this in and work out if the savings actually make sense or it’s a false economy.”

For those who collect loyalty points, Tracey has a great hack. And it’s something she’s very familiar with, having used the technique herself for a recent trip.

“It’s not always possible to find reward seats or you may not have enough points for your destination. But for many programs, there is another way to use them,” she explains.

“We couldn’t get the flights we wanted with our points, but we discovered that we could use them to pay for groceries. So, we used them this way, while putting aside the cash we would usually spend at the checkout to fund our flights.”

Lastly, when using search engines to research your trip, it may be worth deleting cookies and clearing your search history before you search again. While it is debated, some believe the price shown to you will escalate when tracking cookies flag that you have looked at a flight before.



When selecting accommodation, Tracey says it’s critical to have a clear understanding of how you will use the space before you book.

“If you are travelling solo or as a couple with a packed itinerary, a small, functional room may be all you need as you won’t spend much time in it, so it’s an area where it may make sense to tighten the purse strings.

“However, if you are travelling with kids, as a larger group, or planning to have some downtime, more spacious accommodation such as self-contained apartments may make more sense. While it will likely cost more upfront, it could actually save a significant amount.”

Tracey highlights that eating out every day, three meals a day, can quickly run up a hefty bill, and it can also lose its lustre after a while.

“Having your own kitchen will allow you to prepare some easy, lighter meals yourself. And if you are travelling with endlessly hungry children or teenagers, enabling them to grab their own snack can save a lot of time and frustration too.”

Tracey also points out that this type of accommodation can also offer laundry facilities – ideal to save you lugging additional items. “If you are away for weeks or even months, being able to do your own washing saves you from dragging everything with you or having to find and pay for a dry cleaner or laundry in a new city and make sure it’s all back before you move on.”

Once you know what you are looking for, it’s important to compare your options across different platforms.

“With so many hotel aggregators out there, it is important to do your research and include the hotel’s own site. Sometimes, but by no means always, this can be cheaper as the hotel avoids third-party commission.”

Even when it comes to holiday home rentals, comparison is important, says Tracey.

“Many of these properties are listed on more than one site and may be on hotel comparison sites too. In my own experience, I have found significant differences in price and even cancellation terms on the same place, so hunt around before committing.”



“It can be hard to adequately budget for activities as they can often be spur-of-the-moment,” says Tracey.

While she says it’s important not to be too regimented with this and miss out on spontaneity and making memories, you can plan ahead for some big-ticket or must-do activities.

“If you are visiting Europe, for example, there are likely to be specific landmarks, galleries or museums that you are planning to visit. It can pay to do your research, as some are cheaper when pre-purchased (making sure it is a genuine and official ticketing site, of course!). Or you may find that it is free or cheaper on certain weekdays. This sort of thing can quickly add up.”


Currency exchange

“Once upon a time, your only decision was whether it was better to change cash at home or on arrival, but today, in a largely cashless society, there is an endless array of options,” Tracey says.

From travel cards to accounts that let you travel between multiple countries, changing your funds to local currency as you go, Tracey says it’s worth looking into segmented travel accounts.

“Obviously, it’s important to understand the fees and exchange rates with each product, but it can be a better alternative than opening up your accounts to the risk of fraudulent transactions or lost cards, which can be particularly devastating while travelling, or even just foreign transaction fees and differing exchange rates.”

She highlights that for most destinations, it’s a good idea to have a small amount of cash on hand when you arrive for incidentals or local, cash-only expenses. Although these are getting rarer, they can be more prevalent in smaller or developing nations.


Dreaming of your next trip? Talk to an Apt Adviser about how you can build it into your financial plan and savings goals.


General Advice warning

The information provided in this blog does not constitute financial product advice or a recommendation to purchase a particular product. The information is of a general nature only and does not take into account your individual objectives, financial situation or needs. It should not be used, relied upon, or treated as a substitute for specific professional advice. Apt Wealth Partners Pty Ltd is not a registered Tax Agent. You should consider your individual situation and seek tax advice from a registered tax agent before making any decision based on the content of this document. Apt Wealth Partners (AFSL and ACL 436121 ABN 49 159 583 847) recommends that you obtain professional advice before making any decision in relation to your particular requirements or circumstances.