Geoff Potter

How to holiday on a budget

YOUR boss has ticked off your holidays and you can almost taste the beachside cocktails already.

Now there is just one pesky obstacle left to surmount: if you fail to save up a sizable kitty, it will have to be lemonades in the backyard.

The Australian Securities and Investment Commission says the average Australian household spends about $2700 a year on holidays, or $52 a week - So budgeting is essential.

Starting a weekly holiday fund in a separate bank account with automatic debits on pay day is one of the best ways to avoid "I'll make up for it next week" syndrome.

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Planning ahead and ensuring you get the best deals are also essential.

Always book travel in off-peak seasons if you are on a tight budget.

Another trap travellers often fall into is waiting too long to book their plane tickets, although booking too early can also be an issue.

The key is to aim for middle ground - unless you have no set date to travel on, in which case you can often snag a last-minute discount on available flights.

Also try to fly during the middle of the week instead of weekends, which are more popular and expensive.

Sharing accommodation costs with family and friends can often get you a group discount.

Another easily overlooked tip is to make sure everything electrical at home is switched off before you head away, to avoid paying for power you are not using.

There are all sorts of websites offering cheap and free travel options.

One of the most innovative is that links up people who want to exchange houses (even cars, sometimes) for a set period.

They even have international house swap options, meaning you could potentially go to France and get free accommodation while someone looks after your home and feeds your dog.