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Travel Deals Australia

Updated on December 10, 2009

Which is the best type of holiday for you?

There’s a lot to think about when planning a holiday. But whether you have enough money to visit the places you’d most like to see has to be one of the prime considerations. Having made your choice, it’s then pretty much a case of finding out how to get the most for your money. If you’re like the majority of today’s holidaymakers, you’ll begin your search via the Internet. The Web certainly gives you the ability to shop from home. The downside is the amazing number of special offers out there at any one time for pretty well every destination in the world. This Hub explores how you can narrow the range of options by finding the sort of travel deal that’s right for you.

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Air deals

A lot of first-time international travellers assume their air fare will be the most expensive component of the holiday. That’s not necessarily so. Fierce competition on air routes to Europe, for instance, has seen fares drop to the point where return travel, including taxes, can cost a lot less than a week’s accommodation in a 2-star hotel.

If you’re already locked into a particular frequent flyer scheme, the choice of airline is not an issue. If that isn’t the case, the world is your oyster. Fierce competition is seeing fares plummet to unprecedented levels, and there are plenty of online travel agents promoting special air deals worldwide almost daily.

The dates you want to fly will also have a big bearing on the price. Avoid peak-season periods and you stand to save hundreds of dollars.

Another way of obtaining worthwhile air deals is to buy your fare in conjunction with land arrangements. Tour firms, like European coach operators, negotiate very significant volume-buying discounts with airlines and can offer unbeatable fare levels in conjunction with their tours.

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Car hire deals

Renting a car for holiday travel at first glance seems like a fairly straightforward deal. Independent motoring certainly offers more flexibility than coach or rail travel, enabling you to stop when and where you like, and make sudden itinerary changes to see attractions you weren’t originally aware of.

It’s often cheaper than travelling by train or plane. Four people sharing a car (or campervan) will usually pay less for a trip than if they travelled the same distance by air, train or on a coach.

Special deals available in many countries can also lower costs. France is a good example. Carmakers Renault, Citroen and Peugeot operate a tax-free leasing system which allows visitors to drive brand-new vehicles throughout much of Europe for as little as $30 to $40 a day, with the daily rate dropping the longer you keep the vehicle. These deals also include up to a week’s free driving (more for previous customers) and discounted pick-up and drop-off charges.

Another way to get a special deal is to check when car rental firms slash prices in order to move a large number of vehicles from one part of a country to the other after a period of heavy use in one region. Seasonal movements in the US between Florida and the populous northeast states is a good example.

But first-time renters need to be aware of several things. Large people need large cars, particularly if they have several suitcases. There’s nothing worse than feeling cramped-up in a car when you’re travelling for five or six hours a day just to save a few dollars.

Also, many countries have a right-hand drive traffic system, which can be stressful for older travellers used to driving on the left. Signs in foreign languages can add to the problem.

Further, though cars can be rented in most countries, not all countries offer a level of security which makes it safe for Westerners, in particular, to venture into rural areas.

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Cruise deals

Cruising is frequently described as the only fully-inclusive holiday, because one price covers transport, accommodation, entertainment and all meals.

That’s largely true if you don’t count mandatory tipping which is sometimes, but not always, included in the fare.

Apart from the remarkable range of special deals being offered year-round, cruising has at least one other thing going for it. Passengers have a permanent home, needing to unpack and re-pack their luggage only once during the entire holiday. And in between, someone else makes their bed and cleans up after them every day.

Cruises are seen as a bargain buy also because of  last-minute deals. Companies will slash fares by 50% or 60% to fill remaining cabins, knowing that occupants will still be spending on liquor, souvenirs and casino visits.

Head to sea outside busy periods, like summer peaks, and you could be holidaying for as little as $100 a day, particularly in the Caribbean and the Mediterranean, or on trans-Atlantic repositioning voyages, when changes of season force companies to move ships from Europe to the Americas, or vice versa.

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Hotel and resort deals

Hotels have two main uses. They can be CBD or highway overnight shelters for business travellers and tourists moving from place to place. Or they can be resort-type establishments catering solely to stay-put holidaymakers.

Get the wrong one, and you could spoil your holiday. You’d be upset if your special deal saw you stuck in a hotel filled with rowdy convention delegates when all you wanted was a quiet break. More and more so-called resort hotels in key tourist areas are trying to attract conference business to help fill rooms midweek.

Simlarly, that great resort offer mightn’t look so good if you find yourself surrounded by schoolies, or footballers on their end-of-season breakout.

There are plenty of websites offering up-to-the-minute rate information for tens of thousands of hotels and resorts worldwide, sometimes with better price deals than the hotels themselves are offering. But these sites don’t take account of special deals which large hotel chains and even individual properties offer from time to time.

When you use the Internet to search for a special deal, check out major chains to see if they have current offers. Also, most tour operators have regular hotel deals, particularly one-night or two-night stopover packages immediately before the start of a coach tour, or at the end of a tour.

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Package deals

The term package holiday implies that you’re getting a fully-inclusive product similar to a cruise. That’s not necessarily the case. A package will likely consist of transport, accommodation, some air travel and sightseeing. But you can’t count on it including all meals. Breakfasts are usually covered, but normally only half of all evening meals (or fewer) and rarely lunches.

A package, however, does have a number of advantages over independent travel, because among other things it offers the security of touring with a group, with local guides and sometimes with an escort from beginning to end.

It removes the time-consuming need to search out and book individual components, such as hotels and air fares. And because package tour firms buy in bulk, they can offer cheaper pricing than individuals can hope to obtain.

Well-constructed packages will include the cost of having porters carry your luggage between your hotel room and your transport, as well as the cost of  neccessary visas and sometimes travel insurance.

Most will also include sightseeing excursions and admission to key tourist sites, another important benefit. Large tour groups are usually given special access to popular sites, avoiding sometimes incredibly long queues at major attractions in Europe, in particular.

And while main meals aren’t always covered by the package price, an experienced tour escort or local guide is able to recommend value-for-money restaurants and souvenir shops.

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Rail deals

It was assumed some years ago that expansion of air routes and the advent of no-frills airlines would spell the end of rail travel in many parts of the world. Quite the contrary. Rail travel has expanded, with faster trips and better-equipped carriages.

In Europe, for instance, rail is not only cheaper than air in many cases, it’s often faster. It’s claimed that a Eurostar journey from the centre of London to the centre of Paris via the Channel Tunnel takes less time than a flight from London Heathrow to Paris Charles de Gaulle airports, including time taken to get to and from the airports from the centre of each city, plus time needed for check-in and boarding

The French discovered years ago that it was faster to travel by high-speed TGV train from Paris to Lyon (435km) by train than by air.

Rail travel doesn’t have the flexibility of motoring. But it’s seen as an ideal mode of transport for holidaymakers flitting between various centres, particularly for fast overnight journeys where en route sightseeing isn’t a must.

Most major tourist destinations offer both commuter and tourist trains, the latter in many cases including luxury operations like South Africa’s Blue Train.

Pricing is also an attraction. Special tourist tickets, like Eurail Pass, offer big year-round savings on commuter ticket prices, as well as additional seasonal savings.


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