The holiday

In the spirit of the season, Les McGuire ADFS(FP), Principal of Future Proof Financial, guides us in planning that dream Christmas getaway

November is known for many great things, whether it’s Melbourne Cup or Movember, where some men grow a moustache for a great cause.

But what about planning for the ideal holiday without breaking the budget? There are many things we can consider when it comes to holidaying planning, without carrying the burden of debt after.

Travelling around the world, with some pre-planning, can be achieved cheaply without compromising the amazing experience. The first overseas trip I took with my family was in 2012, when we ventured on a skiing holiday to Canada. With a family of three young daughters, sensible planning was crucial. The largest cost often being accommodation and food.

I took to the internet to try and find a solution to this problem and found various home exchange sites. At first, there was the trust issue — someone else I would possibly never meet would be living in my home. I asked myself, what do you do with your personal belongings? There were many things to consider.

I messaged the family looking for an exchange in Canada, then Skyped them; they were professionals in a beautiful home, and so the relationship began.

We swapped homes, cars, they let us use their ski gear and lockers. Wow! There were so many cost savings. We stayed in their home, with full use of all facilities for no extra cost.

The experience was so amazing, and now we have completed four home exchanges to various parts of the world with great success.

The process is easy, and for a small cost you can register on one of the many sites as a member. I used homeexchange.com. Once registered, you have full visibility of all of the homes available around the world.Go to the region you would like to visit and start messaging people. Other members wanting to visit Australia will send you personal messages, which often can be the beginning of an amazing friendship.

If booking through a travel agent is more your thing, it can be a great hassle-free experience, but beware — some agents charge additional fees for changing your plans. While most travel companies are transparent with their deals, some use creative wording that is hard even for a PhD student to understand.

Keep an eye out for “valued up to”, and “prices from”, as they are subjective open terms.

Conduct your own price checks on sites such as Expedia, Trivago or Last Minute Deals to name a few.

If you see “from $xx” or “base fare”, beware, you can usually expect additional charges with any modifications made to the booking.

The process of charging additional fees is referred to as drip pricing (the practice of incrementally disclosing additional fees and charges in a booking process, which misleads consumers not aware of such charges at the start of the transaction). The ACCC has been clamping down on this practice, to ensure those travel agents disclose transparent pricing for consumers.

Be careful when it comes to any associated block out dates and be sure to read all fine print carefully, paying particular attention to when the product needs to be booked and paid for. The excitement of a holiday should begin when you book the tickets.

Travel insurance is a must! Many people are not aware that they have comprehensive travel insurance on their credit cards, if they book and pay on their cards. The risk of travelling to another country without it is far too risky.

As always, keep smiling, take care and if you have any questions email me les@futureproof.com.au

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