Affordable escapes where your budget goes further

Pip Harry interviews travel expert Daniel Finch for Real Travel Insurance.

Rejuvenating vacations are still important to cost-conscious Aussie travellers, even in leaner times. “Prioritising time away from a busy schedule is hugely beneficial for our mental health,” says Expedia Brands Managing Director, Daniel Finch. “The good news is that based on our data, it’s clear that Aussies are continuing to prioritise travel, despite ongoing cost of living concerns. Rather than forgoing a holiday, Aussies are simply changing their travel habits to suit their budget.” 

Beyond the more obvious cheaper overseas holiday destinations (Fiji anyone?) here are Daniel’s top picks of low-cost international destinations, as well as his expert tips for travelling on a budget – planning and flexibility are key!

1. Lombok, Indonesia

Lombok, Indonesia

Done the overcrowded beach clubs and hipster haunts of Bali? There’s a sleepier Indonesian beach destination that offers affordable accommodation, inexpensive local eats and stunning sunsets. The motor-vehicle-free Gili Islands (Gili Trawangan, Gili Air and Gili Meno), off Lombok’s west coast, are home to sea turtles, coral reefs, and miles of white sandy beaches to explore. Just take a fast ferry (90 mins) from Bali and you’re there.

Daniel’s Budget Tip – Extend yourself: “Some accommodation providers offer cheaper rates for longer stays, so if you have the option to be flexible, compare a few date ranges before you book your trip – a few extra nights may actually help you save.”

2. Hanoi, Vietnam

Hanoi, Vietnam

Vietnam’s electric capital city is rich in history and culture and won’t drain your bank balance. Book affordable boutique accommodation in the Old Quarter; the area dates back to the 14th century! Check out temples, markets, ancient imperial citadels and unique water puppet theatre shows. Enjoy pho or the famous banh mi rolls for a few dollars a pop. Don’t miss a daytrip to nearby Ha Long Bay and be entranced by its towering limestone islands and jade green water.

Daniel’s Budget Tip – Book flights early: “If you’re looking to make your money go further, booking flights on a Sunday instead of a Friday could save you on average around 20% on domestic and international flights. Our research also found that travellers that booked six months in advance of international travel saved an average of 25%, compared to those who waited three months out or less to book.”

3. Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

The city offers glamorous five-star hotel stays at a fraction of the price of its flashier neighbour, Singapore. Malaysia’s capital and largest city also offers delicious low-cost hawker food stalls and coffee shops, ancient temples, nature parks and cheap market shopping. Don’t miss a bird’s-eye view of the city from the 452m-tall Petronas Twin Towers, glass-and-steel-clad skyscrapers with a public skybridge and observation deck.

Daniel’s budget tip – Consider city stays: “While we typically see Aussies heading to coastal and regional destinations during peak travel periods, there’s benefit to considering a city stay where you might find better value for money. Better yet, opt for a midweek stay rather than over the weekend, which may unlock an even better rate.”

4. Jeju Island, South Korea

Jeju Island, South Korea

With unique volcanic features, Jeju is famous for its fresh seafood, pristine beaches and vivid coral reefs. It also offers good value accommodation and cheaper entertainment and dining options than the capital Seoul. Climb Hallasan Mountain, a dormant volcano, or just take your pick from stunning forest walks, caves, waterfalls and beaches on the island that’s a UNESCO World Natural Heritage Site.

Daniel’s budget tip – Plan car hire ahead: “If you’re looking to hire a car on your next holiday, some forward planning could help to cut costs. Data from Wotif indicates that a return trip could be 10% cheaper than point-to-point, so it may be worthwhile planning your trip accordingly. Consider your pick-up location as well, as there’s still good value to be found in major airport hubs.”

5. Phuket, Thailand

Phuket, Thailand

Dreaming of a private pool villa escape on a modest budget? Phuket is still a top draw for villa-seeking families and groups looking to avoid the cost of multiple hotel rooms and expensive in-house dining. Away from the bustle of Patong, a more rustic beach scene can be found on Ao Yon, a small bay on Phuket's east coast on beautiful Cape Panwa. Look for off-peak deals and you could save up to 50% on villa bookings. 

Daniel’s budget tip – Track flight prices: “If you’ve got your eye on an overseas getaway, then be sure to opt-in to price tracking on travel apps, like we offer at Expedia. Once you’ve searched for your preferred flights, the app will automatically track flight prices based on your search criteria and send you a notification when the price changes.”

So, are you inspired to jet off? Consider looking in to travel insurance before you go. If budget is top of the agenda, Real Travel Insurance has various plans that may suit your needs. From essentials, to comprehensive, domestic plans and multi-trip, you can find out more about Real Travel Insurance here.