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Despite rising bills, 4 in 5 families still splurge on holidays

November 15, 2017 OTA News No Comments Email Email

Despite household expenses rising drastically this year – thanks to hikes in energy, health insurance and mortgage interest rates – new research has revealed that 79 per cent of Aussie families go over their budget when on family holidays.

The findings come from a survey of an independent panel of 1,076 Australian parents commissioned by – the world’s leading hotel price comparison platform – which aimed to discover how Aussies will be travelling over summer as the cost of living increases

When asked if they would still take a holiday despite the rising cost of bills adding a potential $500 a month to family expenses, 55 per cent of respondents said they would continue to book travel in the next 12 months.

The survey also found that holidays seem to be an expense that a significant proportion of families don’t or can’t budget for. In the survey, 36 per cent of respondents admitted they don’t plan their budget when planning their holiday, 63 per cent of families sometimes go over budget when on holidays, and 16 per cent of families always go over budget.

Far worse than going over budget, a worrying 53 per cent of parents have admitted they would borrow money to travel. Among these, 34 per cent would pay for a holiday on their credit card, and a further 19 per cent would get a loan from the bank or borrow from family.

This is not to say that tight household budgets don’t affect our ability to take family holidays. A quarter (27%) of respondents have admitted to having cancelled a holiday when household budgets were tight in the past, and a further 16 per cent have ‘downsized’ to a cheaper one. Only 18 per cent have still gone on the holiday they planned.

Qualified financial planner Lynette Bolton recently took a family holiday to Fiji with husband and AFL star Jude Bolton, and their two children Siarra (5) and Piper (3). She believes that parents shouldn’t have to sacrifice on family holidays, and can enjoy a holiday at any budget: “Accommodation is likely to be one of the biggest expenses of any holiday so that’s what Jude and I looked at when it came to book our recent family holiday to Fiji. Many people book their flights first and that can really hamstring you on accommodation, so I recommend looking at accommodation and flights before you book to allow for some flexibility on dates to help you ease holiday bill shock.” 

Lynette’s top 7 tips for keeping to a budget 

  1. Book the bulk of your holiday in advance. Knowing your upfront costs before you leave for your holiday gives you better idea of what you’re spending on, and reduces the chance of going over your holiday budget. This makes budgeting while you’re away more manageable.
  2. Use price filters. Most booking sites have a price filter that allows you to set a budget and hide anything that falls over the price bracket. This removes the temptation of snapping up the “bargain” 5-star room that may still be way over your budget.
  3. Monitor hotel aggregator sites that allow you to compare room rates. Researching multiple booking sites over several days can be stressful, and doesn’t guarantee that you will have found the best room rate. Hotel meta-search websites such as  aggregate prices and availability from all the major travel sites to help find you the best price, while saving you hours of research time.
  4. Expand your search to nearby airports. Rather than searching for the most common airport to fly into, look into lesser known airports or a different city entirely. Alternatively, using public transport to your destination allows you to see more sights along the way and visit a place you may not have considered.
  5. Read the fine print. So many people get tripped up on paying more by not reading the details and fine print when booking flights, searching for hotels online, or purchasing travel insurance. Pay particular attention to cancellation terms and travel booking changes to avoid any nasty surprises.
  6. Set a daily cash allowance and stick to it. Once the initial costs of transport and accommodation are taken care of, set a daily budget for food, drinks, activities, and souvenirs, and factor in another 10-15% for the unexpected. Be disciplined and don’t go over your budget. Research the tipping customs in your destination so that you can factor this into your budget.
  7. Eat like a local. Ask the locals about where to find great restaurants at reasonable prices. Locals tend to avoid pricey establishments on the tourist strip, and will know about hidden gems a few streets back from the tourist hotspots. Eating out for breakfast daily also adds up quickly, so find hotel accommodation that has breakfast included.

Travel budget habits of Aussie parents, according to HotelsCombined’s survey results

Travel habits % of families
Go over their budget when travelling 79%
Budget for a holiday in advance 64%
Would still take a holiday in the next 12 months if household bills were to increase an extra $500 a month 55%
Have or would pay for a holiday on their credit card 34%
Have or would borrow money from the bank or from family 19%
Have cancelled their family holiday when household budgets have been tight 27%
Have still gone on the holiday they planned when budgets have been tight 18%
Have changed their holiday to a cheaper one when budgets have been tight 16%


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