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Supercharge your holidays

Sam Burnham

Policy and Workplace Expert

Making the most of your time and money

Time v money – it’s the ultimate heavyweight bout that you’ll have to adjudicate as a young adult, especially when you’re travelling. Just like comparing Superman to Batman, the answer will depend on what you value. Do you prefer to make the most of your travel time like Superman flying across the globe, or would you rather save your money so you too can afford your own Batmobile?

Travel is the great equaliser that doesn’t care how much time or money you have – it demands both. That’s where we come in! Here lies your ultimate guide to maximising both time and money when exploring the world. In this article, we’ll cover:

  • What maximising your time and money doesn’t look like
  • Batman: how to make every dollar count
  • Superman: how to maximise your travel time

Don’t be a sucker

When I took my first overseas trip as an adult almost ten years ago, I ended up wasting a ton of time and money that I really didn’t need to. Paying more because I left things to the last minute? Check. Paying for a travel agent to book things for me? Check. Locking in a bad exchange rate by getting a travel card? Check. Splashing out on big bus tours that only allowed five minutes at each location? Double check.

If wasting your valuable time and money sounds like your idea of a fun holiday, then this may not be the guide for you. If you’d rather experience more, make your money go further and get the most out of every minute of your holiday, then you’ve come to the right place.

All it takes is a little bit of foresight, preparation and flexibility. 

A hero’s guide

Batman: how to make every dollar count

Timing is everything.

  • Look to travel outside of peak seasons to avoid price spikes on flights and accommodation. This means avoid travelling during school holiday times, or during the summer months.
  • Flights are often cheapest on Tuesdays as it is the least popular day to fly, so if you can plan your trip around flying then, you’re laughing.
  • Look out for airline sale events. These are usually flash sales that last between 24-48 hours with heavily discounted fares. Jetstar have built a reputation for their frequent sale events, sometimes tossing out free return legs from Japan or even flights to Europe for less than $1,000. You’ll need to be very quick to catch these sales though as they usually sell out fast.
  • It may be stating the obvious, but this one is important: the earlier you book things, the cheaper they will be. This is true for flights, accommodation, internal travel (buses and trains), as well as other activities such as treks and tours. Try to think ahead so that you can make the most of these early bird prices. Though keep in mind that as with any rule, there are exceptions. If you’re the risk-taking type, or the kind of person who likes to leave their plans flexible, then keep your eye on websites that offer last-minute travel deals. These also include mystery accommodation bookings, giving you a bargain price at an undisclosed hotel - like a blind date for hotels (check out https://www.lastminute.com/hotels/top-secret.html to give this a try).

Embrace the hostel life.

  • Hostels often get an unwarranted bad rap. These days there are plenty of modern, clean and comfortable hostels to stay in. Not only are they generally much cheaper than other accommodation options, but they can also save you even more money by providing free breakfasts (pro tip: pocket a few extra pieces of fruit to snack on later). Check out www.hostelworld.com to find the best hostels around the world. These are all user rated, so you know what you’re getting yourself into!

Cash or card?

  • As someone who’s wasted many dollars putting money on a travel card to lock in an exchange rate, I can safely say – don’t do this. The problem with these cards is the rates are often well below the market exchange rate and you’re usually better off using your regular bank card. This will differ from bank to bank, but the best for traveling is definitely ING as they don’t charge any international transaction fees and will rebate ATM fees worldwide. You might want to consider opening an ING account just for travelling (see our guide on Everyday Banking for more information).

Where to go?

  • Choose your destination based on your budget. This might sound obvious, but it’s important. The amount of money you’ll need for your holiday will vary wildly depending on where you go. If you don’t have a Bruce Wayne bankrolling your trip, you may want to prioritise exploring South East Asia over that big Europe trip.

Get your hustle on.

  • If time is on your side, you might want to supplement your travel budget by working while you travel. If you’re planning to stay in one place for a while, you’ll often find that hostels are on the lookout for new staff. This can also be a great way to meet new people in your home away from home.


  • Some of the best experiences you can have while travelling don’t cost a cent. These can range from local festivals, to museums and art galleries, to my personal favourite - walking tours. Walking tours are usually run by locals and are a great way of learning about the history and culture of a place while getting to know the lay of the land. If you’re in Europe, look out for Sandemans, who run free walking tours throughout the continent (though keep in mind the guides will ask for a tip at the end of the tour).

Pack light.

  • One of the downsides of travelling with budget airlines is that they’ll usually charge extra for checked baggage. These fees are often pretty expensive, so if you’re a Tetris master and can fit your luggage into a carry on bag, go for it! You’ll save a ton of money (and time at the airport), especially if you’re taking multiple flights on your trip.

Superman: how to maximise your travel time

Study the calendar.

  • Want to have your cake and eat it too? Maximise your time off by utilising public holidays to take longer breaks with less leave. The specifics of this will change year to year (and state to state), but in 2020 you can take a 16 day holiday using only 8 days of leave over Easter and a 16 day holiday using 7 days of leave (or 6 if you work in the public service) over Christmas.

Efficiency is king.

  • Do you like incredible views and saving time? Well why not incorporate sightseeing into your travel time? There are many parts of the world where you can find train journeys with incredible views– this is one of the best ways to see things you wouldn’t otherwise whilst getting to your next destination! Some of the best experiences I had travelling have been taking scenic trains from Kandy to Ella in Sri Lanka, and from Bergen to Oslo in Norway.
  • Maximise your sightseeing time by getting from A to B while you sleep! Overnight buses and trains can be more comfortable than you’d expect, and will get you to your next destination without wasting those valuable daylight hours. There’s also the added benefit of having one less night’s accommodation to pay for!
  • Another great option is to hire a car – this will not only save you money on flights, but will allow you to go anywhere and see anything you want at your own pace.

Leave options.

  • If you find yourself short on annual leave to take the trip you had hoped for, make sure to speak to your manager about other options. Many companies will allow you to take unpaid leave or purchase extra leave (this comes out of your salary but is spread across the whole year so you aren’t paying a lump sum for your extra leave).

Time to fly

There are no right or wrong answers when it comes to how you should travel, but with our tips, you’ll be able to make both your time and money go further when you head abroad. 

Stay tuned for upcoming topics or check out or other useful articles here. We’ve got plenty more gold to help you make the leap from top student to top professional!

Got feedback? We’d love to hear from you! Shoot us an email at [email protected].

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