How to travel smart and cheap

Nothing beats a good holiday, but as we all know – these things don’t always come cheap! As for planning? Well, it can be confusing and time-consuming to say the very least. So, to make things a little easier (and more cost effective!), we’ve enlisted the help of an experienced travel agent veteran who seriously knows her stuff.

Cousin to our very own Matt Hale and new mum to a beautiful baby girl named Macy, Anna Hamilton shares the insider insight you need to know before you book your next getaway! Read on to find out more.

Experiences are priceless and time is money
According to Anna, it’s important to find an agent who has been to the places you want to go or that dedicates their free-time learning the in’s and out’s of a destination. Head into a travel agency and say, “I’m interested in heading to x, do you have any agents who have been there or know more about it that can help me plan?”, and then trust that agent.

The agents that have travelled will save you money and recommend you amazing things from their own experiences – from restaurant recommendations, travel hacks and how to ask for upgrades. Anna even says to take advantage of the fact that it’s the agent’s job to sit on the phone all day to airlines, tour companies and insurance companies… So ask all the questions and queries that you may have, it’ll be worth your time and money!

Don’t underestimate the value of a travel agent
Yes, sites such as Webjet and Skyscanner are helpful, but there are just some things they can’t do as well as a travel agent can. Anna says that a single agent will receive around 100-150 emails a week from airlines, tour companies, hotels and cruises, updating them about sales, seasonality and add-ons, so why wouldn’t you take their wealth of advice?

Anna also mentioned that airlines such as Singapore and Malaysia do “double dip” flights where you can stop over in one city and then fly to another essentially for free. As well as this, Swiss and Lufthansa Airlines do ridiculously cheap Round the World airfares (she’s talking $1800 including tax!) that you often can’t book online… So if this is what you’re looking for, an agent can be invaluable!

Seasons matter
Summer. Autumn. Winter. Spring. High season. Low season. Shoulder season. And all in reverse for the Northern Hemisphere. Rainy season. Monsoon season. Festival season – it can all be too much! Anna shares her season travel calendar below.

January: Don’t even think about it.
February: Getting better – hot in the Southern Hemisphere and freezing in the North.
March: Great! Unless Easter falls in March.
April: No way – Easter, school holidays and public holidays.
May: One of the best months to travel anywhere in the world.
June: Up until the 17th is good. After that, nope.
July: No thanks!
August: NO! Summer in all of Europe, North American and most of Asia. Terrible heat and crowds. It’s the second highest high season after Christmas.
September: From the 10th onwards is ok until about the 25th, and then it’s school holidays again.
October: Again, good from the 10th onwards. Probably the second best month to travel.
November: If you can handle the cold, not a bad choice up north.
December: If you absolutely must, fly before the 8th.

Planning
As Anna puts it, “some things just need to be planned”. Things like Oktoberfest (if you don’t pre-book weeks in advance, you are not getting a bed anywhere in Munich), a rail pass in Japan (these MUST be purchased outside of Japan). Not planning can make the best stories, but if it’s a once in a lifetime trip for you, sit down with a professional and pencil out a few details first.

Tours
Don’t hate on tour groups, they serve a purpose. They can be cost effective and you’ll see everything all whilst skipping queues with no language barrier. They’re easy, and they’re stress-free! What better way to travel?

So, if you take Anna’s advice and go with a professional or book it all yourself, make sure you have a budget and stick to it. But don’t be afraid to splurge a little here and there… It’s a holiday after all!

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