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I want to start writing more posts to show you how we find travel deals and cheap flights.
So many people put off traveling because they feel it’s too expensive. It is in some regards, but make a few priority changes and find a few deals and it can become more of a reality.
Although it’s been fantastic to be back in our home town on the Central Coast of NSW catching up with friends and spending a lot of time with family, I haven’t been comfortable knowing that we’re just hanging around and Kalyra has missed a chance to hang out with friends her own age.
Savannah has had her cousin to play with, who is a similar age, and Kalyra has played with them too, but there’s still a four-year age gap.
So I decided to take her back to the Gold Coast for a week to play with her best friend. She’s beyond excited. We’ll also try and tee up some play dates with Savannah’s old friends. And I get to play with my besties too!!
When I first checked flight prices to the Gold Coast and combined it with car rental prices for the week, it was looking like it would be cheaper for me to rent a car from our home town near Sydney and drive the nine hours to the Gold Coast.
I decided to give it one last look a week later to see if that was still the case.
I’m happy with the $370 flight prices I ended up getting for three return flights from Sydney to the Gold Coast AND I saved $130 on car rental for the week WITH no excess. Love it.
Finding cheap flights to the Gold Coast
Use Skyscanner to find cheap flights
We recently shared a post on how to use Skyscanner to save time and money on flights. We also included 3 short videos in that post showing you an example of how we were using it to search for the best flights to the USA for our upcoming trip.
I followed the same strategy to check for my flights to the Gold Coast.
I use Skyscanner first as it quickly shows me what airlines will give me the best price without going to each individual airline website to check.
It told me the best prices would be with Jetstar and Tiger Air. It also helped me to easily see what flight times would work best for me at the best price.
I could have booked a cheaper early 8 am flight with Jetstar on the way home, but that would have meant leaving my friend’s place on the farm in Byron Bay at 5 am. Not good for the girls.
A much better flight time with Tiger Air was available later in the day with a decent price.
Check your frequent flyer points
We recently used most of our points on our flights to South Australia, so I wasn’t expecting too much. I only had minimal points left with Virgin Australia and some membership points with American Express.
I could have transferred them over to Virgin Australia, but it would have only been enough to cover my flight.
When I factored in the cost of the girl’s ticket, it still would have been more cost effective to go with Jetstar or TigerAir.
Plus, it would take between 3- 5 days to transfer those Amex points over so I may have missed out anyway given my short notice for travel.
So that took out the frequent flyer points option.
Check baggage price and booking fees
Don’t forget to add in baggage price and booking fees when searching for flights.
Because I was booking one leg with Jetstar and the other with Tiger Air, I wanted to make sure I wasn’t going to get charged two separate booking fees. If so, it may have made it more cost effective to just use either Tiger Air or Jetstar.
Thankfully, there were no booking fees on either as I could pay by Poli (a somewhat version of direct debit). I mostly use POLi as it is fee free.
Even though you can collect frequent flyer points when you use your credit card to pay for flights, I rarely choose to do that if there is a fee involved as I don’t think it’s worth it.
As we’re traveling in summer and it’s just the girls and I, there is no need to lug around school books and heavy camera equipment (blog free holiday). Well I’ll share a bit on Instagram stories @ytravelblog @Carolinemakepeace), I only needed to purchase one check-in bag.
One checked in bag and three carry-on bags would be more than enough to cover our luggage.
Decide and book
That researching and booking process took me about 30-minutes in total and I found the best flights at the cheapest price for what I needed.
- 3 x flights on Jetstar for $239.50
- 3 x flights on Tiger Air for $245.68
$485.18 for the three of us was more than I wanted to pay, but it was the best I was going to get.
I still had to factor in car rental when we got to the Gold Coast. It would have been cheaper to rent a car from here to drive up, but the savings wasn’t enough to justify the 10-hour drive!
Two booking surprises save me money!
I had two lovely surprises when booking the return leg of my flight from the Gold Coast with Tiger Air.
- They had a 50% sale on their baggage price! Yay. It may only be a savings of $7.50, but anyone in my Money Cleanse community knows that I celebrate every win no matter how small, especially when they come as surprise gifts like that.
- When it came time to click the buy button, one of my options was to pay using Virgin Velocity Points. I had NO IDEA they were connected in this way! I’ve never flown Tiger Air before though.
I clicked on it to see what my points could get me – a whole 50% off the price of my Tiger Air flights. Happy Days.
So flights ended up costing $375 in total for three return flights.
And I could have saved a bit more. I totally forgot I had a $10 voucher for Jetstar I could have used. Bummer. Hey, $10 is $10!!
My only other big expense now is getting to and from Sydney airport. It is my BIGGEST peeve. Sydney airport is a rip-off. The 12-minute train ride from Sydney Central Train Station costs $17 one way for adults and $14 for kids.
It might be a total pain to get off the train at Central from Woy Woy and catch an Uber, but it will be cheaper.
I’ve had a reader also recommend previously that getting the train to Mascot and then catching an Uber makes it even cheaper (use this code ql3dc to get $10 off your first 2 Uber rides)
Update: Good news – Craig drove us to the airport and is picking us up when we return!
Car Rental on the Gold Coast
It’s funny that we lived in Burleigh on the Gold Coast for 18 months without a car, but now I’m going back for a week, I’m renting a car!
I am because not only are we visiting our friends in Burleigh, but I‘m also taking the girls to see some of our other friends and their similar aged children on their farms in the Byron Bay Hinterland.
With car rental, remember to factor in the cost of the car rental insurance.
Most car hire companies will give you the basic cover which will have an excess of $3,000 you are liable to pay if something happens.
No thanks. That makes it very expensive car hire should something happen.
So be careful. Always check what the total rental price will be with the excess reduction insurance factored in before you book.
Since I had American Express points to use, I decided to check the American Express Travel site for car hire to see whether I could cover the cost of that with my points for a week’s rental. I almost could. But, that was just the base rate.
To reduce the excess, it put the total price of car hire to over $500 for the week. I could have reduced that with my points, but I wanted to check other options for a better use of my points and money.
I also checked Avis direct as there is a current offer with my Amex Card that if you spend $200 or more on Avis car hire you get $50 back. Even with this discount, having the right excess and insurance would still cost me $500.
I also checked the credit card policy to see whether the excess could be covered by insurance if I paid for the car using my Amex card but that was a dead end as well.
Rental Cars.com once again proved to us to be the best online search tool for car hire.
We have used them since 2007 when we hired a car in the US and were astounded at how much we saved by booking on Travel Jigsaw, which is what it was known as way back then.
It always brings us the best rates. It’s why it is the only car rental site we recommend to you and choose to be affiliate partners with. We believe in them to be the best.
Whereas every other option (except one which I’ll share with you in a moment) gave me rates at least $500 for the 8-day rental, RentalCars.com returned me a vehicle for $371 with the excess reduction included. This is great savings.
But, I didn’t book a car with them. Here’s why.
Jacks Car Rental
We love Jacks. They are a local car hire company on the Gold Coast owned by two sisters.
We stumbled across them when we first moved to Burleigh and were in need of car hire. Their rates always include excess reduction to zero.
The best thing about Jacks Car Rentals is they drop off and pick up the car wherever you are. It was an amazing service for us when we lived on the Gold Coast and we rented cars from them all the time.
We phoned them to check their prices for the 8-day rental. It was $360.
We could have booked with RentalCars.com via our own affiliate link, which would have taken the cost to be slightly cheaper than Jacks, but we really love this local company and would rather support them than save a couple of extra bucks.
Truly, if you’re looking for car hire on the Gold Coast, go to Jacks, they can’t be beat for service!