Want to leave? Advice for Australians facing sky-high travel costs | Travel

IIf you want to get from Australia to Europe in June or July on a route without long or multiple stopovers, a round trip economy trip will cost you at least $ 4,500, and on many dates over $ 6,000. The cheapest prices, which include long or multiple stopovers, and over 40 hours of travel time, are around $ 3,000. To get to the United States, a direct return trip to Los Angeles costs $ 4,300.

There is a staggering increase from levels before and even mid-pandemic. What could once have covered an entire holiday, with money left over, is now the cost of the plane ticket alone.

CEO of Flight Center Andrew Stark says rising fuel costs, lack of competition and limited airlines flying to Australia are the main reasons behind high prices.

The fact that Australians are eager to leave the country after more than two years of travel bans and uncertainty exacerbates the problem, says Naomi Hahn from the price comparison website Skyscanner. “The strong demand is to meet and sometimes surpass available seats, leading to higher ticket prices.”

Domestically, holiday guests are also facing cost increases, and Stark says accommodation is both more expensive and book faster. “Now that international borders are open again, many Australian holiday destinations are booking up … in some cases for the rest of the year.”

Add to that the general pressure on the cost of living from rising fuel, grocery bills and interest rate hikes, and a much-needed winter escape – or long-awaited reunion with family and friends abroad – slips out of reach for many Australians.

Currently, it is not possible to travel on a pre-pandemic budget without making compromises – with location, route, scheduling or all three. But travel experts say that with a few strategic concessions, there is still a lot for the money to be had.

For any trip: plan well in advance

Stark says that the uncertainty we face means that “customers usually book closer to the travel dates than ever before”. While this is understandable, it also means paying more. “Our advice is to book as soon as you know where and when you want to go, because the further out, the better deal you get.”

Skyscanner data suggests the cheapest time to book a trip to London on average is 18 weeks before the scheduled departure date.

This also applies to the United States, where data from the Hopper flight comparison tool shows prices above average or well above average for flights to Los Angeles all the way to September, with direct flights costing a minimum of $ 2000.

Prices for high travel times in December and January are also very high.

Venice Beach in Los Angeles. Photo: Ringo Chiu / Zuma Press Wire / Rex / Shutterstock

Domestic travel also requires advanced planning, especially during high periods such as school holidays and long weekends. “For booking school holidays, for example, you want to look at this right after the previous school holiday period,” says Stark.

Order insurance!

Given an untimely Covid infection, torpedoing can last-minute travel plans, Stark suggests booking “good quality travel insurance as soon as you book your first flight, so if things change, you’re covered.” Although this increases the total cost of a trip, it can end up paying itself many times over if things go wrong.

Many travel insurances will not cover the cost of canceled plans booked more than 48 hours before the insurance is purchased, so book your insurance at the same time as, or before, the rest of the trip.

For short breaks: stay close and stay midweek

Boroka lookout in Grampian National Park in Victoria.
Boroka lookout in Grampian National Park in Victoria. Photo: ms_pics_and_more / Shutterstock

Although the price increases on domestic flights are not nearly as steep, the best option for a short break is to cut out the cost of flights and rental cars completely, and choose a destination that is accessible by car or public transport.

For Melburnians, Wotifs Daniel Finch says that the Grampians have “some of the most affordable accommodations in the country, with overnight rates averaging less than $ 200 per night”. The region has also just unveiled a new mural by artist Sam Bates as part of its 200 km long silo art trail.

In New South Wales, a break that leans into the winter cold provides the best value. Wotif recommends Orange as a good choice, with accommodation averaging $ 172 per night. Albury and the Murray region also have good accessibility and affordable rates, while in South Australia, the Limestone Coast, a three-hour drive from Adelaide near the Victorian border, averages $ 158 per night.

Fraser Coast in Queensland tops Wotif’s proposals for warmer getaways, with good accommodation availability and an average price of $ 174 per night.

Finch says traveling outside of peak periods – such as midweek instead of weekends – is likely to lead to better rates.

Weekend app

For longer stays domestically: go where the tourists are not

Package deals that combine accommodation and travel may be less expensive than booking separately.

Stark says the best value for money in Australia at the moment is for “destinations that are not necessarily popular with international visitors. Areas such as the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, Tasmania and South Australia have some great deals ».

He also recommends looking for airline sales, which “just as if not more frequent than before Covid”.

Wotif tips North Queensland as the best place for a winter holiday in warm weather, with the best rates and availability in Mackay and Townsville, where accommodation averages $ 149 and $ 154 per night respectively, and Cairns also offers affordable availability and rates.

Townsville Marina and Queensland.
Winter Escape: Townsville, North Queensland. Photo: Shelley Dempsey / AAP

Darwin and Katherine are also great options for warmer weather, though you have to consider car rental costs, which start at around $ 100 per day, according to the price comparison site Kayak.

In Western Australia, Wotif says there is still good availability (and good weather) on the Coral Coast, although accommodation prices average around $ 209 per night.

It is also worth considering consolidating the rental car and accommodation costs into one by renting a caravan or motorhome. Caravan prices tend to be much cheaper than hotels, or even free. Vans can be ordered through traditional car rental services, or through the Node-to-Node rental website Camplify.

For affordable campsites, try Hipcamp, which has run and run campsites, pre-set up tents and even tiny houses on private properties across Australia.

Ningaloo Reef, near Exmouth on the coral coast of Western Australia.
Ningaloo Reef, near Exmouth on the coral coast of Western Australia. Photo: Nature Picture Library / Alamy

For international travel: be flexible

If you can be flexible with dates, Hahn suggests using Skyscanner’s “full month” and “cheapest month” search tools.

For those who care more about a trip than a destination, Hahn also recommends using the “everywhere” search, which shows the cheapest available trips both domestically and abroad for the entire month. In July, round-trip economy travel is available to Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore, New Zealand and Indonesia for under $ 400.

Stark says “destinations that were popular because of their value and simple experience, such as Bali, Fiji and even Hawaii are still great places for a vacation for the money”. He says prices are likely to fall as more destinations ease travel restrictions, and this will lead to greater competition in the market.

“Mixing and matching the airlines and airports you choose to fly with and from can severely reduce costs,” says Hahn. “Flying out with one airline and back with another, or out of one airport and back to another, can save money.”

Fiji still offers a vacation for the money, says Flight Center CEO Andrew Stark.
Fiji offers a vacation for the money, says the CEO of Flight Center Andrew Stark. Photography: 7Michael / Getty Images / iStockphoto

If you are planning to build your own route, good travel insurance is even more important, as booking through multiple airlines will increase your administrative work if you have to cancel or change plans.

Setting up alerts to track prices over time can also help if you book in advance. This can be done on most major travel comparison sites as well as through Google.

When you arrive at your destination, you can also save on accommodation costs by considering programs such as house exchange, non-profit hospitality exchange network Be Welcome, house or pet care or a voluntary holiday.