Tips for avoiding Christmas Tax

With Christmas holidays on the way, many Aussies will have already planned a summer getaway. Whether it’s international or domestic travel, we’re about to hit peak travel time, which usually means busy airports or long drives.

However, while cost is a big part of any trip – especially with a family –, if you factor in things such as hotel, flights and car rental fees, the price tag of a Christmas holiday can accumulate extremely quickly.

In fact, new research from has shown that Australians could be paying over double the price of an off-peak holiday when travelling over the Christmas period. By examining the top 10 international destinations – according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics – for two people over Christmas, it was found that the Gold Coast, Queensland has by far the highest mark up out of any destination (103%).

Second in line for the most expensive of the top destinations came Phuket, Thailand, with a percentage difference of 72% higher than the regular price, and after this was Nadi, Fiji, with a 66% increase in cost.

With so many Australian families taking their annual leave over the Christmas and New Year period, it’s important to factor in potential cost increases that may take place, and do all you can to avoid these inflated prices.

Here’s how you can steer clear of the ‘Christmas Tax’:

Be organised
Booking your trip further in advance can lower last-minute fees. As the booking gets nearer to the date of travel, prices hike far further up so it’s a good idea to make plans as early as realistically possible. You’re likely to save the most if you book flights 17 weeks prior to departure (for international and long-haul domestic) and 5-11 weeks before shorter domestic trips.

Consider your options
When booking accommodation, take price into account. Often there may be cheaper hotels or options than your first preference. Online accommodation agencies and hotel booking services allow you to compare prices side by side which is useful if you’re on a tight budget and have flexibility in terms of location.

Anticipate the surcharge
Many vendors will charge a holiday surcharge (usually a percentage of the price you’re paying, or a fixed amount). Although these are often quite small, they are designed to compensate for paying employees overtime, and can add up. Also, card transactions under a certain amount (for example, $10) can amount to certain fees in various places, so consider withdrawing cash and sticking to a daily allowance. Also, you may want to think twice about dining out on a public holiday as many restaurants enforce surcharges too.

Shop around
Comparing the prices of any financial needs you may have during your trip is important. Travel money cards can be costly if you take out the wrong one for your trip. However, preloaded travel money cards are useful for travellers who want to lock in a favourable exchange rate or are planning on visiting multiple countries. Certain travel money cards can help you to avoid fees including ATM withdrawal or currency conversion fees that other cards may charge.

Reassess your travel insurance
If you’re someone who prefers to travel domestically without travel insurance, you may get caught out. Unforeseen flight delay, accommodation cancellation, loss of luggage, or theft are all legitimate reasons for claiming money from travel insurance and they all occur domestically as well as on international trips. Whether you’re staying local or heading overseas, it’s worth looking into a policy that can cover the value of your Christmas presents in the case that something happens to your luggage.

So if you’re heading overseas or travelling domestically this Christmas, these are a few things to consider. As long as you shop around and review your options, you’ll probably avoid the worst of the Christmas tax costs. Happy travelling!