Want to go ? Advice for Australians facing exorbitant travel costs

IIf you want to fly from Australia to Europe in June or July on a long or multiple non-stop route, a return economy class flight will cost you at least $4,500 and on many dates more than $6,000. The cheapest fares, which include long or multiple layovers and more than 40 hours of travel time, are around $3,000. To get to the United States, a direct return flight to Los Angeles costs $4,300.

This is a staggering increase from pre- and even mid-pandemic levels. What could once have covered an entire vacation, with cash to spare, is now the only cost of airfare.

Flight Center General Manager Andrew Stark says rising fuel costs, lack of competition and the limited number of airlines serving Australia are the main culprits for the high fares.

The fact that Australians are eager to leave the country after more than two years of travel bans and uncertainty compounds the problem, says Naomi Hahn of price comparison site Skyscanner. “High demand sometimes meets and exceeds available seats, driving up ticket prices.”

Nationally, holidaymakers are also facing cost increases, with Stark saying accommodation is both more expensive and bookings are quicker. “Now that international borders are open again, many Australian holiday destinations are booking…in some cases for the rest of the year.”

Add to that the general cost-of-living pressures from rising fuel, grocery bills and rising interest rates, and a much-needed winter getaway – or a long-awaited reunion with family and friends. friends abroad – is becoming out of reach for many Australians.

For now, it is not possible to travel on a pre-pandemic budget without making compromises – on location, itinerary, planning time, or all three. But travel experts say that with a few strategic concessions, there are still some great value trips to be made.

For any trip: plan well in advance

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

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

This is also true for the United States, where data from flight comparison tool Hopper indicates above or well above average prices for flights to Los Angeles through September, with direct flights costing the minimum $2,000.

Prices for peak periods in December and January are also very high.

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

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

Book insurance!

Since an untimely Covid infection could torpedo travel plans at the last minute, Stark suggests getting “good quality travel insurance as soon as you book your first flight, so if things change, you’re covered.” Although this adds to the overall cost of a trip, it could end up paying for itself many times over if things go wrong.

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

For short stays: stay close and stay midweek

Boroka Lookout in the Grampians National Park in Victoria.
Boroka Lookout in the Grampians National Park in Victoria. Photography: ms_pics_and_more/Shutterstock

Although the price increases for domestic flights are not as significant, the best option for a short stay is to reduce the cost of flights entirely and rent cars, and choose a destination accessible by car or public transport.

For Melburnians, Wotif’s Daniel Finch says the Grampians have “some of the best value accommodation in the country, with average accommodation rates under $200 per night”. The region has also just unveiled a new mural by artist Sam Bates as part of his 200km silo art trail.

In New South Wales, a break that leans into the winter cold offers the best value. Wotif recommends Orange as a good choice, with accommodation averaging $172 per night. Albury and the Murray area also have good availability and reasonable prices, while in South Australia the Limestone Coast, a three-hour drive from Adelaide near the Victorian border, has average prices of $158 a night.

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

Finch says traveling outside of peak times – such as midweek rather than weekends – is likely to lead to better prices.

weekend app

For long national stays: go where the tourists are not

Packages that bundle accommodation and travel can be more affordable than booking separately.

Stark says the best value for money in Australia right now is for “destinations that aren’t necessarily popular with international visitors. Regions such as the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, Tasmania and South Australia offer good deals”.

He also recommends monitoring flight sales, which are “just as if not more frequent than before Covid”.

Wotif says North Queensland is the best place for a warm winter holiday, with the best prices and availability in Mackay and Townsville, where accommodation costs an average of $149 and $154 per night respectively, and Cairns also offers availability and reasonable prices.

Townsville Marina in Queensland.
Winter getaway: Townsville in North Queensland. Photography: Shelley Dempsey/AAP

Darwin and Katherine are also good warm-weather options, but you’ll need to consider car rental costs, which start at around $100 per day, according to price comparison site Kayak.

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

It’s also worth considering combining your car rental and accommodation costs by renting a caravan or motorhome. Caravan park rates tend to be much cheaper than hotels, or even free. Vans can be booked through traditional car rental services or through the Camplify peer-to-peer rental website.

For affordable campsites, try Hipcamp, which offers campsites with and without electricity, pre-pitched 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. Photograph: Nature Image Library/Alamy

For international travel: be flexible

If you can be flexible with dates, Hahn suggests using Skyscanner’s “whole 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 displays the cheapest available trips both domestically and abroad for the entire month. . In July, round-trip economy class travel is available to Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore, New Zealand and Indonesia for less than $400.

Stark says “destinations that were popular for their value and ease of experience, like Bali, Fiji and even Hawaii are still great places for a value-for-money vacation.” He says prices are expected to come down as more destinations ease their travel restrictions, leading to more competition in the market.

“Mix and match the airlines and airports you choose to fly with and can significantly reduce costs from,” says Hahn. “Flying with one airline and returning with another, or departing from one airport and returning to another, can save money.”

Fiji always offers a great value vacation, says Andrew Stark, managing director of Flight Center.
Fiji offers value-for-money holidays, says Flight Center managing director Andrew Stark. Photography: 7Michael/Getty Images/iStockphoto

If you plan to cobble together your own itinerary, good travel insurance is even more important, as booking with multiple airlines will increase your paperwork in the event of cancellation or change of plans.

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

When you arrive at your destination, you can also save on accommodation costs by considering programs such as home exchange, the Be Welcome nonprofit hospitality exchange network, house sitting, or a pet or a volunteer vacation.

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