Watching exchange rates is the key to an affordable holiday

For Australians, the price of airfares alone makes overseas travel a costly exercise, but the weakness of the Aussie dollar in some countries could also be biting into your savings if you’re unprepared.

This month, the Australian dollar sank to $US0.63, the second-lowest dip since 2009.

This is not an isolated situation; at time of writing, the Australian dollar is worth just 51 pence in the UK, and 59 cents in the Eurozone.

But if you look outside of the typical European and North American tourist favourites, there are still plenty of travel options that aren’t as likely to empty your bank account by the end of your trip.

One of these options happens to already be a long-time haven for Australian tourists.

Cheaper travel options

Indonesia is one of the best options for Australian travellers on a budget, with a ticket to Bali sometimes costing less than an interstate trip.

Once you’ve landed, you’ll likely find food and accommodation to be extremely affordable, with $1 equivalent to almost 10,000 Indonesian Rupiah.

Although the Australian dollar isn’t as strong as it used to be in Indonesia, David Beirman, adjunct fellow in tourism at the University of Technology Sydney, said compared to the Indonesian Rupiah it’s like a superhero.

Other potential holiday destinations that offer great value for money include Thailand, Malaysia, and even smaller islands such as Fiji and Samoa.

pictured is Bali, where two returning travellers were before contracting measles

Indonesia has many options for tourists, but Bali has aways been a favourite. Photo: Getty

Obviously, airfares for long distances or less-serviced routes can still cost a chunk of money, and what kind of accommodation you choose along with other spending habits will largely determine the overall cost of your trip.

But in general, most South Pacific and south-east Asian countries, excluding the likes of Singapore, tend to be very affordable for Australian tourists, Dr Beirman said.

Other cheap destinations in terms of the exchange rate include the likes of Turkey, Georgia and South Africa.

If you’re keen to stay closer to home, Dr Beirman said New Zealand is a  good option, with the exchange rate sitting just higher than dollar for dollar with Australia.

“So don’t despair totally,” Dr Beirman said.

“[When] you go on holidays now, if you can possibly avoid higher currency places like the UK, the European Union and North America, you’re laughing.

“[Our south-east Asian and Pacific neighbours are] wonderful destinations, I’ve been to quite a few of them, and you do get quite good value for money.”

Savings tips

If the costlier exchange rate hasn’t put you off certain countries, but you’re still looking to save a few bucks, Dr Beirman said one of the best ways to protect yourself against fluctuating exchange rates is booking your trip through a wholesale tour operator – preferably one that’s a member of the Council of Australian Tour Operators.

“Most of those wholesalers tend to negotiate their rates for tours and hotels, et cetera based on the exchange rate they agreed on months ago, or sometimes even as long as a year ago,” he said.

“So those rates stay fairly steady; if there’s a massive difference, of course it will change. But generally speaking, that’s a form of protection.”

Cash is still king in Thailand. Photo: Getty

Reaching for cash instead of card when paying overseas could also save you a pretty penny.

Not only does withdrawing enough cash to last a few days protect you from daily fluctuations of exchange rates, but it can also save on costly bank fees at the checkout.

Dr Beirman said if you’re looking to keep some cash on hand, it’s best to get most of the international currency you’re after when you actually land overseas.

“If you go to most of the cash exchange places [in Australia], they’re going to charge you fairly extortionate rates,” he said.

“I would say 95 per cent of the time, if you’re going to exchange money, don’t exchange it [in Australia]. Exchange it when you get to your destination … that’s my golden rule.”

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