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Holiday budgeting and savings guide

Because taking a trip shouldn’t break the bank.

Key tips for planning - and paying for - your dream holiday:

  • Put the effort into planning. A little research about your destination - especially into costs - can go a long way.

  • Creating a budget to save for your holiday will help you on track and motivated.

  • There are plenty of canny ways to cut costs, from travelling in off-peak seasons to eating like a local. Be open and flexible to take advantage of these opportunities.

  • Whether you’re saving for your trip, using credit, or a combination of both, you’re not on your own. There’s a range of Westpac accounts, tools and calculators to help make your holiday dream a reality.


Planning, budgeting and saving for your next holiday just got easier.

Despite our geographical isolation – we’re generally unphased by the prospect of travelling over 30 hours to reach our destinations – Australians love to travel. Whether it’s exploring the wonders of our own backyard such as Uluru, the Great Barrier Reef or the Sydney Opera House, or packing our bags and heading abroad to Europe or Asia, we’re holidaying like never before.


In 2022, almost 3.7 million Australian residents returned from short-term trips overseas, with New Zealand, Indonesia, the United States, and the United Kingdom remaining the most popular travel destinations for Aussies.


Looking closer to home, in the year ending June 2023, Australians spent $108.3 billion on domestic trips. These numbers are only expected to rise as we rush to make up for COVID-19 lockdowns. 


No matter where you’re going, you’re going to need to pay for your next holiday. The good news is that there are a few options. You can save up before you go, use credit, or find the perfect combination of both. Here’s how to make your trip both affordable and enjoyable. 


How much will my holiday cost?

There’s something about the anticipation of going that makes planning a trip almost as exciting as being there. First, you need a holiday destination. Consider your interests, budget, and how much time you have. Once you’ve settled on a destination (or a few), it’s time to do some research. Online is a great place to start, so look at the best time of year to visit and check out and compare airlines that fly to where you want to go. Comparison websites can help you find a great deal. 


It’s not just about airfares, though. The cost saving on airfares might be outweighed by other costs when you’re on the ground, so take the cost of living and exchange rate fluctuations into account, too. Accommodation and activities at your destination will impact your overall budget, even if you saved on airfares. 


Costs to consider:

  • Airfares
  • Accommodation
  • Food
  • Transport
  • Activities and entertainment 
  • Sightseeing
  • Tours
  • Shopping, gifts and souvenirs 
  • Visa and passport expenses 
  • Travel insurance
  • Tipping and gratuities 
  • Health and medication 
  • Emergency funds


How to keep holiday costs down

Being savvy can go a long way in keeping holiday expenses manageable. Here are some tips to make your trip more affordable:

  • Book flights early. Keep an eye out for good flight deals and be ready to act quickly when you see the best price. It’s all about being ready to grab a good deal when you see one. 

  • Travel outside peak times. Christmas and school holidays are peak times for everyone. Travelling during off-peak periods not only saves you money but also means a more relaxed and less crowded experience. 

  • When it comes to your travel dates, be flexible if you can. Be open to changing your plans based on deals or last-minute opportunities.  

  • Look at city hotel deals on weekends. City hotels, often catered to business travellers, can offer discounted rates or extras such as free breakfast or spa credits over weekends. 

  • Consider self-catering accommodation so you can do some of the cooking and get more bang for your buck elsewhere. A hotel room without a kitchen means you’ll be eating out for every meal. Look into homestays or house swaps for accommodation options if that’s something you’re interested in. 

  • It sounds cliched but get off the beaten track. That doesn’t mean creating new hiking trails, it just means considering less obvious options. Paris, London and New York are wonderful, but there are plenty of other cities to explore nearby that will be cheaper (and less crowded).  

  • Use local transport. Public transport such as buses, trams or subways will be cheaper than taxis or car rentals for getting around. Walking or biking can also be a cheap way to explore a new city. 

  • Beware of exchange rates and any purchases with a foreign transaction fee


Budgeting for your trip

Antoine de Saint-Exupery said that “a goal without a plan is just a wish”. And when it comes to holiday saving, he couldn’t be more accurate. Once you’ve done your research and know where and when you’re going, creating a budget that aligns with your goals is paramount.


Creating a budget isn’t a dull task when it’s geared towards achieving your dream holiday. This is where some tools can come in. If you have a Westpac bank account the Westpac App gives you a big picture view of your spending categories, so can help you cut unnecessary expenses. You can also track trends in your cash flow and look at your overall income and expenses. Determine the total amount you need for your holiday and set a specific savings target. 


Holiday savings accounts to prepare for your trip

Saving money for your trip can be simple if you set some goals and stay on track. Set up a separate savings account so that your holiday fund is totally dedicated to travel. This should be a separate account that you don't touch unless it's for your trip; it shouldn’t be an emergency savings account, either.

A savings account can help you reach your savings goal faster. Setting up an automatic transfer into your holiday savings account every time you get paid means you don’t have the chance to spend that money. You can also transfer any additional payments, or windfalls such as gifts, work bonuses, or tax refunds  into your holiday savings account too.

Here are some tools to help: 

  • Savings Goals in Westpac Online Banking means it’s simple to see how much money you need to set aside on a regular basis to reach your goals, you can set up recurring transfers for a certain amount, and work towards shared holiday savings goals with your joint account partner. 
  • Westpac Life is a flexible savings account with no monthly fees, and bonus interest for regular savers who don’t withdraw money. You can split your savings into different goals, get rewarded by saving often, and keep your spending and holiday savings separate but easily visible.
  • Westpac eSaver is a short-term savings account that offers a great introductory interest rate. There’s no minimum deposit or monthly balance, no account keeping fees, plus unlimited transfers and 24/7 access.
  • Short term deposits have a fixed interest rate over the term you choose (from one month to five years), so can help with giving you certainty of knowing what your return on savings will be. A term deposit can also remove the temptation of moving money out of your savings account before your trip because your money is locked away for the length of term you’ve chosen.

Consider your borrowing options:

While it might seem like a better idea to save for your holiday, in some cases, borrowing money may be an option, especially if you don’t have enough time to save. For example, perhaps you’ve been invited to an overseas wedding or birthday, or you really need that holiday sooner rather than later, or you’ve spotted a deal that’s too good to wait for.

  • Personal loans involve applying to borrow a set amount of money and paying it off in regular instalments. It’s important to borrow responsibly, understand the interest rate, and ensure you can manage the repayments, because you could be paying off your holiday for years after you return.
  • Credit cards can be a quick solution, but the interest can be quite high. Some credit cards offer frequent flyer points or complimentary travel insurance, so it’s worth exploring this ahead of your trip.

Spending money on your trip

There are a few ways to make shopping and spending easier and cheaper when you’re on your trip:


  • Worldwide Wallet is a travel money card you can transfer Australian Dollars on to and convert into your choice of up to 10 currencies to lock in your exchange rates before you go. There are no foreign transaction fees, no load or reload fees, and no ATM fees at Global ATM Alliance partners.
  • Currency converter is a calculator to help convert major foreign currencies to and from Australian dollars, using an up-to-date exchange rate.

In review

By implementing these savings strategies and understanding your travel expenses, you can plan and finance your dream holiday effectively. Whether you choose to use a designated holiday savings account to save diligently, explore borrowing options, or a combination of both, the ultimate goal is to make your travel dreams come true. Bon voyage! 

Things you should know

It's important to read the detail about the conditions and any fees or charges that apply to any financial product before you decide to apply for it. Check the eligibility criteria too. Ask the product issuer for a copy of these. Credit criteria apply to approval of credit products.

Any recommendation made in this communication is general in nature and does not take your objectives, financial situation or needs into account. Read the terms and conditions, including the Online Banking Terms and Conditions before making a decision and consider whether the product is right for you.