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6 secrets to the cheapest Christmas holidays

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The carols start, the fairy lights go up and thoughts of a holiday become nearly impossible to ignore.

Travelling at Christmas might not be the smartest move for your hip-pocket – thanks to the “Christmas tax”, the average couple will have to spend 41 per cent more on a holiday than at any other time of the year.

This means a trip over the festive season costs a whopping $3,640 per person, according to finder.com.au.

That’s so depressing. I still want to go on holiday though. Help?

The numbers aren’t pretty but there are ways to cut costs, finder.com.au money expert, Bessie Hassan told Yahoo Finance.

“Christmas might only be a few weeks away but there are still deals available, so if you want to plan a last minute getaway, you simply need to be savvy,” she said, suggesting Aussies try flying out on New Year’s Day or think about holiday destinations off the beaten track.

Additionally, travellers need to do the leg-work and find the best deals.

“Signing up to an airlines newsletter is also a great way to find out about sale fares.”

And once you’re on holiday, a good rule of thumb is to avoid touching the credit card – it’s great to have fun on holiday but not at the cost of future financial health.

“Coming home with substantial debt can end up putting a damper on your holidays,” Hassan said.

What else can I do?

1. Book early

It sounds simple but the Christmas holidays can sneak up on the best of us. It’s even more important you book early if you’re heading somewhere further away like Europe or America.

2. Set a budget

This is also fairly obvious but easy to forget in the magic of the moment. However apps like Trail Wallet and Finch can help you keep an eye on your spending so you can enjoy your holiday with peace of mind.

3. Look for deals

If you’re heading to major cities you should keep an eye out for multi-passes like Paris’s MuseumPass. New York also allows free entry to several major museums and art galleries.

4. Use public transport or walk

You’ll save money while also soaking in more of the atmosphere. It’s a win-win!

5. Think about an all-inclusive holiday

They might seem more expensive up-front, but all-inclusive holidays like cruises and through resort companies like Club Med can help ensure you don’t spend more than what you had originally planned.

However the same goes for these holidays as all others: you need to book early.

“For a Club Med holiday, you can save 30% off by booking early, including school holiday dates. The longer you wait, the more you’ll pay – this is the same with flights too as they begin to fill,” Club Med in the Pacific general manager Rachael Harding told Yahoo Finance.

6. Don’t forget to factor in your payment options

Your credit card might have high fees for overseas transactions and the exchange rate in your holiday destination could also be unfriendly. You should consider your approach to these before you leave the country.

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