Friday, August 13, 2010

How To Stretch Your Holiday Budget

Sprinkling some cost-free events into your itinerary can stretch the holiday budget, reports Jane E. Fraser for The Age Traveller. You just need to know where to look, especially in the big cities.

When was the last time you went on a trip and spent less than you intended? Away from home and in holiday mode, overspending is right up there with overeating for easy traps to fall into. Yet you may regret cutting back on activities and experiences, especially if it is a destination you are unlikely to visit again. So it pays to make the most of freebies where you can get them.

Free tours, entertainment and attraction tickets are out there if you know where to look and the savings can be considerable. Guide book author Meryl Pearlstein says even in an expensive city such as New York, you can find plenty of freebies.

One of the best examples of freebies for savvy travellers is the museums and art galleries that offer free admission on a certain day of the week or at a certain time of day.
While some museums and galleries are free year-round, many charge about $15- $20 an adult, which can really cut into your holiday budget.

Some cities offer free visitor tours through schemes such as the Global Greeter Network (, where residents volunteer to give up their time to show tourists around. The Global Greeter Network is available in 16 cities around the world, including Melbourne, Adelaide, New York, Paris, The Hague, Buenos Aires and Toronto, and the organisation says at least another 50 cities are looking at introducing it. 

Aside from being free, the tours offer an authentic look at a city because guides can show you what they really love about their city, without being beholden to any commercial interests. The only catch is that you often need to make contact well ahead of time to ensure someone is available for your travel dates. 

Keeping track of free offers is not easy but there are many ways to find out what is available.
Destination websites often contain sections on free activities, although you may find the hot tips buried among banal suggestions such as "take a stroll in the park".

Guide books can be a better source of information, as long as they are up to date. One of the best ways to find out about freebies is to walk into the local visitor information centre and ask. Visitor centre staff and volunteers can often tell you about things not in the brochures and they may be able to point you in the direction of other money savers such as cheap transport and discount restaurant nights.

To read the full article visit The Age Traveller

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