Striking a balance…make sure you’re ready to pick up and go!

Make the most of your time and money.

Wow – it’s already September – where does the time go? Well for me it’s been filled with lots of trips, both mini and long haul and I must admit life is pretty good. After working for over 40 years and bringing up two children, we have now found an excellent balance between work, home and travel. Our aim is to enjoy this wonderful time in our lives, see new places, spend time together, and spend more time with our far spread families and friends and to do all that with the least amount of fuss and bother. This is the first blog of a series…these are general tips, next blog will concentrate on packing tips and information about what to take along and finally I’ll discuss more general organisational strategies to save you time and stress.

As we are both now in our sixties, we have accepted that we are too old to rough it around the world. We like to travel comfortably, but still on a budget, so we want to make the most of our travel dollars. Here are a couple of our tips and strategies all tried and tested and they worked for us. Armed with these strategies, you’ll always be ready to get away on a planned vacation, or even to take advantage of a spontaneous holiday; an impromptu weekend away, a surprise airline or cruise sale, a last-minute invitation and to accomplish any of these with the least amount of fuss or stress as possible…enjoy.

Travel is an adventure – style is a vital part

My first tip; preparation is vital, even before you book your fares or decide where to go next. It begins with you and where you live. If you want to get away at a moments notice, then you have to make sure that you and your home are getaways ready! The aim is to travel stress-free, to be able to take advantage of last minute specials or a fabulous invite. These tips are equally crucial for well-planned trips, and we always find that vacations go much more smoothly with a bit of pre-planning and organisation. So if you spend time now making your home and your life as organised and uncluttered as possible, you will reap the benefits later when your taking advantage of last-minute prices on a beautiful cruise or airline specials.

If your like to travel and you’re lucky enough to be able to do this frequently, you’ll also probably want to get away with the least amount of hassles as possible. You want to walk out the front door of your home and know that the bills will be paid, the house is safe and that when you get back home, everything will be just as you left it. We are so fortunate nowadays with mobile devices, email and the internet a lot of the problems of being on the road have been solved. My second tip would be, make sure you receive your regular bills by email, have internet banking set up and working, discontinue receiving paper bills and statements. Link your accounts together and set up scheduled payments for any upcoming invoices.

Communications and the cost of keeping in touch can be costly, especially when you are overseas. My third tip would be, take advantage of local charges for telecommunications – communicate with one of the Apps which use the internet to place phone calls, even face to face calls and use them for sending texts photos and updates to family and friends. If you are on Facebook, you can you the Facebook Messenger App, or I also use either Viber or WhatsApp to keep in touch, especially with people who don’t use Facebook. If you can find secure Wi-Fi, then connect to it, but another way we have managed overseas is to get one local SIM Card. I use this in my iPad, and when I want internet on my smartphone, I can open a personal hot spot from the iPad to the phone and use the local data. Here is a link for instructions on how to do this – We recently spent 9 weeks in the UK, and we bought our SIM Card at Heathrow Airport when we arrived and only had to add additional data once.

We like to use our devices to stay in touch with family and friends and to find out what is happening at home. So to help with this, we have changed from getting our newspapers and magazines in hard copy form and now subscribe to our local and national newspapers and magazines digitally. This is an excellent option, and we use it daily whether we are at home or away, so I would call this our forth tip.

The costs associated with making overseas transactions with your credit card can really add up and saving on these is my fifth tip. Most Australian banks charge both an international conversion fee and a transaction fee for each amount. If you would like to save, then use a Travel Card. Just load the card up with the local currencies to suit your trip and then when you make a purchase overseas, each transaction is in the local currency, and there will be no transaction fees. You can add additional funds to the card as you travel using internet banking. We even find that we usually don’t even pay ATM fees to withdraw local currency. We use the Qantas Card, which is a Mastercard and is attached to our Qantas Frequent Flyer cards.

For the last tip I will give you today is to investigate the value of Loyalty programs, do they suit you? Do they suit the way you like to travel and the destinations you intend to travel too? We have our Credit Cards associated with our Frequent Flyer numbers and when we make purchases of all of life’s necessities we are also building up frequent flyer points that we can use for free travel or travel class upgrades. We also found that using Hotel Loyalty programs in Europe gave us great value, sometimes in the form of upgrades, free extras and points towards free stays. Not all programs give much value but it is worth looking into their offers.

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