‘Christmas tax’ causes pinch in Aussies’ wallets

Piggy bank being filled at the seaside

Australians could be paying up to 103% more to travel over the Christmas holiday season.

finder.com.au examined the top 10 international destinations  for Australian travellers, as well as a domestic favourite, the Gold Coast, and took into account the cost of travel – including hotels, flights and car rental – for two people over a two-week period, comparing both peak and off-peak periods.

Topping the list for the most expensive travel destination during the peak period – Saturday 24 December to 7 January 2017 – was, surprisingly, the Gold Coast.

Despite being just a short flight from Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide, travelling to the Gold Coast during the Christmas period could set Aussies back, on average, $8,907.

Meanwhile holidaying there in November 2016 or February 2017, could cost less than half of that – $4,391, on average.

Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia

The biggest price hike was accommodation on the Gold Coast, up 121% on off-peak prices.

Internationally, Phuket was found to have the largest price gouge, with Australians paying, on average, 72% more to travel there during Christmas. This was followed by Nadi (66%), Bali (63%), and Goa (54%).

Analysis of the top 10 international destinations found it could cost on average 41% more to visit over the Christmas holidays.

Interestingly, one of the destinations in the study, Auckland, came in cheaper during Christmas – costing, on average, 6% less during the peak season.

Cost of travel for 2 people for 14 nights (flights, hotel, rental Car)

RankDestinationOff Peak CostChristmas CostAdditional CostPercentage difference
1Gold Coast, Queensland$4,391$8,907$4,517103%
2Phuket, Thailand$4,326$7,453$3,12872%
3Nadi, Fiji$5,464$9,067$3,60366%
4Bali, Indonesia*$3,068$4,990$1,92263%
5Goa, India*$5,374$8,265$2,89054%
6Tokyo, Japan$11,341$14,843$3,50231%
8Shanghai, China*$4,356$5,047$69016%
9New York, USA$8,282$9,467$1,18514%
10London, UK$6,144$6,882$73812%
11Auckland, New Zealand$5,605$5,279-$326-6%
International Average$5,770$7,882$2,11241%


Bessie Hassan, Money Expert at finder.com.au, says there are some ways to minimise cost – and it starts with being organised.

“With many Australian families forced to take their annual leave over the Christmas and New Year period, inflated holiday pricing seems to be a cost many have to bare.

“However, keeping costs down starts with doing research – jump online and use comparison websites to compare flights, accommodation and transport. Doing your homework can leave you with more spending money.”

An analysis of airline data found that mid-week flights are generally more affordable than weekends, as are early morning or late night flights.

“The sweet spot for booking flights is around 17 weeks prior to departure for international and long-haul domestic flights, and 5-11 weeks for shorter domestic flights. So plan ahead, and save.”

Prepaid travel money cards and travel insurance can also help to keep costs down once at your destination.

Concept for dreamy girl and traveling
Travel money cards are useful for travellers who want to lock in a favourable exchange rate or are travelling to several destinations.

“These prepaid cards can also help you avoid fees including currency conversion and ATM withdrawal fees, which can sting unsuspecting travellers,”  Hassan said.

Hassan recommends shopping around online to find the best Christmas travel insurance deals and discounts.

“When it comes to travel insurance it’s always best to lock-it in early so you’re covered from the moment you book for any unexpected delays or cancellations,” said Ms Hassan.

“It’s also worth looking into a policy that will cover the value of your Christmas pressies in the case of lost or stolen luggage.”

Email the Travel Weekly team at traveldesk@travelweekly.com.au

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