1. Don’t travel during the off-peak season
While some travel blogs and forums would advise you to travel off-season to avoid the crowd and save money on flights and accommodation, it might not be the best idea when travelling to the Pacific Islands. The off-season, which is between November and the following April, also known as the wet season, is the time of the year when most islands are at risk of cyclones and have the highest temperatures. You may be spending most of your time indoors instead of relaxing on the beach if you travel during this time of year!
2. Do travel between May and October
Organise your Pacific Islands holiday between May and October during the dry season, with a moderate temperature between 18°C – 28°C.
If you only have time to travel during the wet seasons, French Polynesia is our top recommendation and a great place to visit with fewer storms.
3. Decide on your budget and stick to it
Always determine your budget before booking your accommodation and planning your island itinerary. Aside from expensive paid things to do, there are plenty of free hikes and water activities to consider when planning your activities. Rather than staying in hotels, Airbnb and guest houses are also a great way to save on accommodation – if you can stay with the family that’s a big plus too!
Once you’ve decided on your budget, try not to overspend. Take out what you need in cash to use as spending money on your trip. Did you know, that the New Zealand Dollar is accepted in a few of the Pacific Islands – the Cook Islands, Niue, and Tokelau? If you do need to exchange money before you go, make sure you go ahead of time because they may need to order in uncommon currencies.
If you need some tips on how to plan a holiday budget read our ‘how to’ guide: Budgeting For Your Dream Holiday.
4. Pick the right island(s)
With so many dream destinations in the South Pacific, it’s hard to pick the best islands to visit. Luckily, we have narrowed it down to a few suggestions that can accommodate your budget plans to suit budget travellers, family visits, backpackers, and anyone looking for cheap escapes to the islands.
The Cook Islands, Fiji and French Polynesia have opened their borders to international travellers (as of May 2022) with Samoa planning to open up from 1st August.
- Cook Islands: Family is a significant part of Cook Islands culture so it’s a great place to spend time with your loved ones. Some of our favourite family-friendly island activities are kayaking, paddleboarding, hiking, snorkelling, caves markets, and the Polynesian Island Night show. If you have kids who are too young to snorkel or swim in the sea, then make your holiday a memorable one with a glass-bottom boat cruise and explore the famous Muri Lagoon with Koka Lagoon Cruise.
- Fiji: Soft Coral Capital of the World, Fiji offers a beautiful range of locally run beach huts and a convenient hop-on/hop-off boat pass to visit Fiji’s most picturesque regions of the Yasawa Group Islands and the Mamanuca Islands which is perfect for family fun. Known for its clear blue waters, bright blue lagoons, and palm tree-lined beaches, Fiji is the perfect place for families, beachgoers, hikers, birdwatchers, and forest fanciers. Try out their Indo-Fijian cuisine and experience an entirely different bustling street life. Take your kids to the Kula WILD Adventure Park where they can feed the sea turtles and snap a couple of photos with the resident reptiles – did we mention there’s a canopy zipline and a water slide?
- French Polynesia: Although Tahiti can be an expensive destination, there are a hundred other islands to choose from. Islands like Moorea, Bora Bora and Maupiti have budget bungalows, campgrounds and hostels to help you save some money. Plus, it’s an excellent place for surfing or simply lying on the tropical beaches surrounding the lagoons.
Vanuatu and the Solomon Islands are also great affordable destinations for budget travellers, but they currently have restricted travel for international travellers. So, make sure you check them out on their official websites to see if you’re eligible to travel.
Although Samoa and Tonga haven’t yet opened their borders for international travel, Savai’i, Upolu and Apia in Samoa and Vava’u, Nuku’alofa, and ‘Eua in Tonga are some cheap yet charming locations to put on your dream destination bucket list.
5. Choose the BEST day to book your flight
Flying to the islands from New Zealand can be pretty expensive, so aim to book your flight at least two months in advance. You can follow major airlines on social media, sign up for rewards programs or free memberships, and subscribe to newsletters to get first-hand notifications on the cheapest flight deals.
If you’re not bounded by travel dates, try flying between Tuesday and Thursday as weekend flights are usually more expensive. Use Skyscanner and Webjet to find the best flight deals, and make sure you check if the price includes any online booking fees.
Often, flights are the largest expense for a trip. If you need a hand to cover some of the costs, Instant Finance is here to help! We offer travel loans with flexible repayment options so you can enjoy the sun and sand in no time.
6. Stay in Airbnb or locally-owned properties
If you can stay with family or friends, great! If not, look for locally owned properties to get a better glimpse of the local culture and cheaper rates than packaged deals offered by airlines and luxury hotels. If you plan to go backpacking in South Pacific Islands, Airbnb or hostels are excellent accommodation options. Plus, you might find a travel buddy too.
Did you know, that you can save anywhere between 10% to 50% when you book your accommodation on Airbnb? Sometimes, hosts offer special discounts to encourage bookings when it’s not very busy too – just remember to check the host’s rating and reviews!
7. Eat like a local
Try the Polynesian cuisines and dine where the locals eat. After all, why travel to the Pacific Islands and not try something new?
Wander through the local markets and you might find some fresh fruits, seafood and produce you don’t see in NZ. Ask the seller how they’d cook it and take it back to your accommodation to cook them yourselves. Or even better, if you’re staying at a local’s home, ask your host for their tips on how to best cook the dish traditionally!
8. Avoid tourist traps
It’s so easy to make an impulse purchase on some amazing fun activity when travelling. Check out some of the deals on activities and attractions on the island before you go. You can save money while travelling when you book all your activities in advance. Bookme.com is a great place to start if you’re thinking of doing something awesome around Fiji.
The Cook Islands, Fiji and French Polynesia are famous for their scuba diving spots. Did you know in French Polynesia, you can buy a dive pass that is valid on six islands? Simply ask the local dive centre when you book your diving session.
When wandering through the markets, think about how many keyrings and magnets you have at home that you wish you didn’t buy. Instead, why not take some lovely, everlasting photos and videos as souvenirs? But if you’re a keyring or magnet collector, make sure you factor in that expense when planning your budget. Always remember to stick to your budget!
9. Get travel insurance
Yes, travel insurance is an extra expense, but it can save you in an emergency health situation or if you encounter any unforeseen circumstances. Some insurance companies even provide cover if you’re diagnosed with COVID-19, allowing you to claim back expenses if you were to cancel or cut your trip short. Talk to your insurance company early, as some companies require you to purchase the insurance a few weeks before your scheduled departure date.
10. Pro Tip! Pack light
Pack your bags early and think through what essential things to bring on your trip and what items you can leave at home. When in doubt, leave it at home. If you wash your clothes at night, they’d probably be dried the following day – so pack fewer sets of clothes than you think you need. Plus, packing light can help you save money while travelling with less check-in luggage and you might even have some space to bring presents back for your family.
Remember, one of the most important tips for travelling on a budget is that you must not forget to bring your essentials. It may cost a lot of money to buy that essential missing item, or you may not find it in-store when you’re overseas.
You don’t need lots of money to travel to your dream destinations. The gorgeous white sandy beaches and the unbelievable beautiful waters of the Pacific Ocean are calling. Why wait? Book your accommodation, flights and activities today. If you think you might be a little over budget or need financial assistance to tick off some items off your bucket list, contact the friendly team at Instant Finance or apply online now to see how you can finance your trip with a personal loan.