Happy penny-pinching holidays

We all need holidays, even if it’s only to get out of the house for a while, or away from the neighbours! So what can you do to make these holidays fun, enjoyable, and relaxing without stressing out about the cost? Lots.

Go camping. Borrow the gear, or if you must buy it look for second-hand equipment, which is a fraction of the new cost. You can holiday for next to nothing, and experience the great outdoors. Your local information centre will have details of freedom camping sites if you don’t want to use camping grounds.

Why not holiday at home? Pitch a tent on the lawn. For “holiday” activities, do all of those “odd jobs” that never seem to get done or use the time to preserve fruit and vegetables, make curtains, collect firewood, go fishing, or put in a raised garden. All of these things will save you money. If you need a break, explore the local sites and events. There is so much going on in our own communities that we never seem to have the time to see. Have you been on the local bush walks, or taken the bike trails? What about viewing local gardens or roaming the galleries. What about staying with relations – that’s if you can put up with them, and they with you! Work on a reciprocal arrangement – you stay with them and they stay with you.

Given the falling kiwi dollar, those lucky enough to be travelling overseas are likely to be paying a lot more for things when they get there. Compared to last Christmas you will be paying about 30% more in the US and 20% in Europe. There is one country where your dollar will buy twice as much as last year – Zimbabwe! Iceland (a little cold right now but nice in summer) is also a snip with the kiwi dollar buying 50% more!

And for those who are footloose and fancy free, what about couch surfing. At the moment New Zealand has 3950 free couches available for snoozing. It works a bit like a social networking site. You put up your profile and list your couch on the couchsurfing website. People make contact and sleep on your couch when they are passing through on their travels, and you get to sleep on member’s couches when you are cruising around overseas.

If flying these holidays be sure to take advantage of frequent flyer points. An oily ragger writes, “One year we arranged a trip to the United States. It would normally have cost an arm and a leg but we cut the cost in half by buying a ticket to Honolulu (we had to fly economy because the baggage compartment was full!) and then a special rate ‘within US’ ticket to take us to mainland America. But the real bonus was we accumulated so many points crisscrossing America that we earned the equivalent of a bonus flight to the USA (or four flights to Australia). We ended up taking the whole family on a nearly free trip to Australia!”

If you’re travelling overseas, enquire about the availability of standby tickets. And did you know that international courier companies offer cheap flights to individuals prepared to act as document(!) couriers?

One oily ragger says they are using one of their four weeks to take on casual work. Their thinking was now that they were legally entitled to four weeks holiday instead of three, they may as well work a week and get paid twice!