|The plus side to off-peak travelling is you’ll avoid huge crowds and high prices. Many frugal travellers opt to take their holidays during the low seasons but is there a trade-off?Unfortunately during the low season many tours, accommodation and attractions are not running or closed. These closures are often due to weather, scheduled maintenance or simply due to the fact that there are such limited number of visitors.|
You can make the most of your travel budget if you use all those tax and duty-free rebates to your advantage. With our top five tips on duty-free and travel shopping , you can experience the best the world has to offer – and save money too.
1. Know your limits
Before you get carried away, there is a limit on how much you can buy overseas without paying taxes or duty. Each adult entering Australia can bring in up to $900 worth of general goods (including gifts, souvenirs, electronic equipment and jewellery), plus up to 2.25 litres of alcohol and up to 200 cigarettes. Shopaholics will be relieved to know this general goods limit does not apply to items for personal use such as new clothes, shoes and grooming products.
But these limits do not apply to unaccompanied baggage, and you need to declare anything above those amounts. So hang onto all your receipts while you’re travelling!
2. Is duty-free really a bargain?
Before you travel, do some homework. Compare airport duty-free websites to work out if it’s cheaper to buy something at the airport in your own country, or duty-free while you’re overseas. Generally, duty-free bargains are more likely in countries with lower duties and taxes to start with, but exchange rates also come into play. Unlike other countries, you can still buy duty-free as you come into Australia – so compare while you travel and then leave it until the end. And that’s one less thing to carry…
3. Stick to names you trust
If you are buying duty-free outside of the airport, make sure you’re dealing with a reputable dealer so you do know exactly what you’re getting. Sometimes it might be worth paying slightly more for electronics in your own country if you know you can actually use that warranty and plug.
It’s also illegal to bring counterfeit or pirated goods into the country – they can be seized by customs and you can be fined or imprisoned. So think twice about where that designer handbag has really come from.
4. What about VAT or GST refunds?
If you’re spending a bit of money in one shop while you’re travelling overseas, ask if they offer a VAT or GST refund when you leave the country. The rules vary between countries, but usually the store can give you a form with your tax invoice, which you then present before check-in at the airport. The goods will be inspected, and you can then get the tax portion back as cash or a refund on your credit card.
5. Claim your Australian GST back too
Under the Tourist Refund Scheme (TRS), Australian residents can claim the GST back on any purchases they make for their trip, in any store. You just need to spend more than $300 in one store, and get one single tax invoice for all the items. And those items need to come on board with you in your hand baggage, or be worn on board. Portable DVD player, new camera, or new luggage – make it work for you!
Don’t forget to maket he most out of your money you will need budget travel insurance for your trip.
Even if you want to travel like a rock star, you can still have an overseas holiday on a budget. Check out our top five tips on getting the best travel deals , so you can experience the best the world has to offer – at bargain prices!
1. Book early… or book really late
The best time to book your airfares is about 11 months in advance – when the seats have been released but there are plenty of cheap fares available. Or, if you’re flexible about travel dates, airlines and even destinations, use one of the many last minute travel websites to get a great deal on airfares and hotels. They’ll be desperate for your dollars by then!
2. Be your own travel agent
You can use the internet to research everything about your trip, and book it all too. Email makes it easy to book, and even haggle for, accommodation in foreign countries. Tripadvisor is a great site for getting the truth about those cheap hotels – and then finding the best deals online. And some auction sites also let you bid online for hotel rooms – just pay what you think it’s worth!
3. Package it all up
Sometimes it cheaper to use a travel agent if your plans are complicated or you want the best deal on flights, hotels and car hire – they can combine everything into a package that you may not be able to match with separate online sites.
4. Travel off-peak
If you don’t have to be in Europe in summer, then why pay summer prices? It’s cheaper to fly out of season, just be prepared for less predictable weather and shorter opening times on many attractions. It’s also cheaper to fly on a Wednesday than on a weekend. And if you choose an unsociable hour for departure (like a 5am cross-channel ferry) then you’ll pay less too.
5. And when you get there…
Don’t use taxis – take public transport or walk. It’s the best way to really experience your destination. Find out if there are money-saving transport cards, such as the Oyster card on the London underground or the Carte Orange in Paris. Or book a Brit-rail or Inter-rail pass in advance.
There’s just one thing you can’t skimp on, and that’s travel insurance. But if you travel frequently, an annual policy will save you money over time. And the peace of mind will be priceless.