Travel tips: How to beat the falling dollar
SWAP YOUR HOUSE
You can put yourself into a villa in Tuscany, an apartment in London or a condo in Aspen at minimal cost if you’re prepared to exchange your home for another’s, and the internet makes it happen. Home Exchange is one of the world’s largest house exchange holiday club with properties around the globe, and the sign-up fee is low.
See Home exchange.com
Cruise ships with empty berths close to sailing time offer big discounts to travellers prepared to join them at short notice. You can often put yourself on board for as little as A$100 (NZ$110) per person per day on some of the finest names in the cruising world. Check Cruise Express, Cruiseco or check the last-minute deals available from cruise lines own websites.
BOOK AIR TRAVEL NOW, PAY LATER
With a non-refundable deposit of NZ$99, you can take advantage of STA Travel’s Airfare Deposit Program. You get to lock in the price of your air ticket with the freedom to pay the balance just four weeks before flight time.
See STATravel NZ
Look for where the locals are eating, and stay away from tourist hot spots at meal times. If the restaurant has a sign outside that says “English menu”, find somewhere else. If you have your main meal in the middle of the day rather than in the evening you’ll save. Most restaurants charge more for dinner than for lunch, even when they serve the same dish. Make do with a light dinner.
LOCK IN VALUE
I’m not normally a big fan of travel money cards but when the dollar stars tumbling with no bottom in sight they offer a way to lock in your dollars against foreign currencies at today’s rate. Available from post offices, banks and other financial institutions, these cash passports offer the convenience of ATM withdrawals and the ability to pay for goods and services overseas just as you would with any other debit card.
BOOK AN APARTMENT
Not only are they generally cheaper than a hotel room of similar quality, apartments in big cities give you the opportunity to save on meals and sundry charges such as laundry. Travel with a family or small group and the savings are magnified. Websites such as Airbnb make it easy to find suitable accommodation but check the reviews from past guests and make sure your home-away-from-home is in a good location with easy access to transport.
LAST MINUTE BARGAINS
Hotels with empty rooms often have late-breaking deals with big discounts. Check for special prices on Lastminute, while both Priceline and SkyAuction allow you to haggle with a hotel by naming your price – and the closer to check-in time, the sharper the price.
See: Last Minute NZ Priceline.com SkyAuction.com
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Whether you’re staying in a hotel or an apartment, you’ll frequently get a better price per night for a longer stay, particularly in off-peak season. When they’re quiet, many hotels and resorts offer a free extra night if you book in for as few as three nights, and an apartment rented via Airbnb often comes at a discount if you take it for a whole week.
New Zealand has plenty of epic landscapes to explore. Image: Barry Harcourt
The New Zealand dollar still buys you a dollar’s worth of food, accommodation, air and road travel right here in New Zealand. This could be the time to set the wheels spinning and explore a special part of the place we call home, just as many thousands of travellers from overseas are doing right now. You don’t need a passport or visa, there’s no long-haul flight, no worries about where to access your cash and you can use data services with your regular telco without fear.