This is a guest post written by Monika Gudova for Mozo.com.au.
As “fun” as it may be, sometimes we all need a break from the world of walking-meetings and hot-desking, so when your bestie asks you to join her for a 14-day European vacay, you say yes – with bells on!
That is until she shares with you her holiday shortlist of 5-star hotels, champagne bars and VIP must-do events.
If your chosen travel buddy is likely to have a travel budget three times as much as yours, fear not. With some savvy upfront planning on your behalf, there are ways that you can also have your dream holiday without the need to take out a massive holiday loan or sell a much-loved kidney. Here’s how to travel with friends who have more to blow than you do:
Be blunt about your budget
A good friend will understand that you’ve got a set budget to work within and that this may not match hers. Rather than wait until you’re having a money-meltdown part way through your trip, sit down over a coffee to talk about what your expectations of the trip are and how much you can afford to spend.
If they won’t budge on something, don’t try to keep up; remind your friend that you don’t need to be handcuffed together, and it’s okay to have days apart when you can do things that are more suited to your own budgets. If they can afford to sit up front in first class, or spend the weekend on a superyacht, they definitely shouldn’t have to miss out but you also shouldn’t be put in the position to do something you really can’t afford.
Pack the right travel money
Never underestimate how much money you could actually save just by picking out the right piece of travel plastic before you leave. Did you know, the foreign exchange margin on overseas transactions can range from 0% to 5% on a debit card, and 0% to 3.65% on a credit card and overseas ATM fees can be as high as $5 a pop? This means on a $5000 holiday spend you could be paying over $200 in bank fees so finding a no foreign transaction fee card before you jet off will mean more money for you to spend, on you.
And, as they say, nothing wipes away your holiday glow faster than a panoramic credit card statement, so if you are planning on putting some of your spending on a credit card, pack a card with a low interest rate (below 13%) because when it comes times to pay back those Apple Martini’s, more of your repayment will go towards paying down the debt not bank interest.
Don’t ignore the deals
A savvy traveller knows you should never ever pay full-price, and a little bit of searching online can save you and your friend big bucks. Thankfully, coupon websites’ main schtick is giving you champagne for beer prices, so you shouldn’t have to break bank to stay somewhere ritzy.
What’s more is that their packaged deals more often than not offer free extras like complimentary breakfast and WIFI, so you can save your dollars for dessert with Antoinette (let them eat cake!).
Travel off peak (It’s on trend!)
If you like piña coladas and don’t mind getting caught in the rain, off-peak travel might be right up your alley. Many hotels and airlines will offer cheaper rates during their off season to boost tourism. Instead of fighting your coworkers for leave in July, pitch a trip to Mykonos in warm September, where it’s easier on both your work schedule and your wallet.
Hunt for happy hours and free events
It’s true, the best things in life are free, and when your travel money card starts running out of euros, you’ll be grateful for free beachside yoga classes, gallery openings with complimentary wine and two-for-one cocktail specials for you and your best gal pal.
The more you look, the more you’ll find, so don’t limit yourself to online research, more often than not the locals will know where to get the cheapest and best thai massage, so you can avoid jacked up prices meant for tourists.
Shun shopping with a capsule wardrobe
Even if you’ve been nailing your budgeting and avoiding shopping at home, when you’re walking down the cobblestoned, boutique lined streets of Rome, you might begin to question your resolve. If you’re going to be travelling with friend who spends, rule number one is to pack the perfect capsule wardrobe (where you pair essential wardrobe pieces with more ‘seasonal’ items) so that you can mix and match for every occasion from brunch to sunset cocktails.
You’ll be able to tag along to your friend’s allocated shopping day with confidence and while she’s off buying designer coats and dresses, you can look for smaller items like scarves or blouses that will help to freshen up your look without the need to splurge big.
And to really make your shopping dollars count, make a list of three key wardrobe pieces you really want, and spend your time (and money) shopping for these, so you’re not tempted to splurge on an orange dress that only looks nice when you’re tanned.
About the author: Monika wholeheartedly believes that ‘living your best life’ can be done on a budget. Each morning she brushes her teeth with an eco-friendly toothbrush, picks out a ridiculous pair of earrings and heads to her job at financial comparison website Mozo, where she gets to lecture people on how to save their hard earned bucks. At any given time you can find her enjoying Sydney’s best happy hours or basking in the economical glory of op shops.