Travelling Overseas? Here’s A Pre-Holiday Checklist To Save Money

It’s happened to the best of us – we had lofty savings goals for our overseas holiday, we’ve given up our daily coffee and even sold some of our goods on eBay. But after a few dinners out, tickets to that unmissable concert and a present for our sister’s birthday, that bank balance has plummeted alarmingly.

Luckily, there are ways to save on things you don’t need to be paying for while travelling. Based on a three-week trip, we’ve estimated the savings and converted them into the number of gelati you could buy in Italy (an average of $4.50 or €3 per serve), because we know that’s what you’d rather be spending your euro on.

Sublet your apartment/room 

Rent will be the hands-down biggest money drain while you’re away, so it makes sense to try and recoup the cost if possible. There are plenty of websites that help you find someone to sublet your apartment or room, AirBnB being the best-known international platform (though you’ll be charged a commission). For Australian platforms, check out and Flatmate Finder (you’ll need to pay a fee), or more generic listings websites like Gumtree.

If you’re not keen to have a stranger in your personal space, put your feelers out on social media; chances are a friend or friend-of-a-friend will be the perfect match. And it goes without saying that your flatmates (if you have any) have to be ok with the arrangement.


Savings: What you’re paying depends on which city you live in, as well as location and condition of the place, but for argument’s sake let’s say you’re paying $250 a week. Over a three-week period, that’s a whopping 167 gelati for your trip.

Freeze your private health insurance

All private health insurance providers will allow you to suspend your health insurance policy while overseas – with conditions. You’ll need to notify them at least a month in advance and have held your policy for a certain amount of time. Then, there’ll be a minimum number of months that you can suspend your policy for, generally either one or two. Get in touch with the customer service team to suss out the details and make sure you’re happy with them.

Just remember that for tax purposes, if you earn over $90,000 (or $180,000 collectively in your household), you may be liable for the Medicare levy surcharge for the days you’re not covered.

Savings: Light to medium private health insurance cover will set you back around $20 per week. That’s 13 gelati over three weeks.

Freeze any memberships or subscriptions you have 

Make a list of any subscription services and memberships you have and shut those down. Gym memberships (approximately $25 per week), Netflix (which works out to $9 for three weeks), Spotify Premium (again $9 for three weeks) and newspaper deliveries ($7 per week) may not sound like a huge amount of money, but cumulatively they can add up to some serious moolah.

Savings: If you’re a subscription/membership fanatic and are signed up to everything from bootcamp and yoga to newspapers and streaming services, you can easily save $100 or more over the length of your holiday. 25 gelati.

Get a deal on your travel insurance

Do you have a platinum credit card? If so, there’s a chance it offers free travel insurance. OK, when we say free, we mean the cost of travel insurance is factored into the annual fees you’re paying for the privilege. So while we’re certainly not advocating that you get a credit card based on ‘free’ travel insurance, if you already have a jazzy platinum card, do some research into what perks are on offer and see if travel insurance is one of them so you don’t double up.

If you just have a regular credit or debit card, let Google guide you to discount codes for travel insurance. You can usually find codes for 10 percent off most travel insurance policies, so make sure to use a comparison website like this to find the best match for you, plus checking for discount or promo codes. Ten percent off is still an easy $10 on a $100 policy.

Savings: A neat 2 gelati.

Forget international ATM fees

It always hurts a little to withdraw money overseas and get charged an ATM fee. A pain that costs millennials $183 million collectively, per year, to be exact. You can avoid these fees by getting yourself a prepaid travel card and pre-loading cash in your destination’s currency, or sussing out which banks allow you to take out money withdrawal fee free from overseas partner bank ATMs.

Savings: According to Westpac’s 2016 Travel Finance Report, international ATM fees are approximately $7 per transaction, but we think it only costs us about $3 per transaction. Withdrawing money every three days will set you back about $49 – or let you indulge in 11 gelati if you apply for a travel card before you leave.

Choose a bank account that backs you

When you’re making all this progress with your savings, you need somewhere to put all your cash. That’s where the Westpac Life bank account comes in. The Westpac Life savings account allows you to do just that –
you can set up to 6 goals and track your progress towards them via the Westpac App. You can save for several goals without the hassle of having more than one account – and you’ll earn a competitive 2.30% p.a. variable interest rate which includes bonus interest every month your balance grows.


Savings well spent.

If you’ve done all these things and everything’s dandy, congratulations! You’ve found yourself enough extra cash to pay your way through 218 gelati.

Westpac Life is a flexible savings account that could help you stay on track to meet your savings goals. Open now in less than three minutes.

Catherine Mah is an editor and writer based in Sydney, but she’s lived in Spain, Taiwan and Brazil. She’s written for publications like AWOL and The Guardian Australia, but secretly dreams of creating bizarre flavours of ice cream as a full-time job.

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