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Media Release

‘Winging’ the holiday budget is costing Aussies billions of dollars each year

‘Winging’ the holiday budget is costing Aussies billions of dollars each year

Poor holiday planning and budget blunders are leaving the average traveller out of pocket, costing the nation a whopping $4.6 billion a year

As Aussies prepare to head overseas for a midyear break, new research from Commonwealth Bank has revealed that more than one in two (58 per cent) travellers will return home with an unwanted financial souvenir, after blowing their holiday budgets by more than $1,554 per person – a national total of $4.6 billion.

The research revealed relaxed attitudes to travel budgeting is causing money mishaps, with a quarter (26 per cent) of Aussies revealing they don’t save any spending money before they go away and one in five (21 per cent) traveling without a holiday budget.

Once on holiday, overspending can easily go unnoticed. Only one in three (36 per cent) travellers check in on their spending each day.

Michael Baumann, General Manager Everyday Banking and Payments, Commonwealth Bank, said it might sound obvious but a little research goes a long way with 38 per cent saying the advice they received was very accurate and gave them a good idea of how much money was needed.

“Despite advice from family and friends and budgeting tips and tricks for travellers online, over half (55 per cent) said they made an educated guess when working out their holiday spending money. Even more concerning was that a third (33 per cent) aren’t putting aside extra spending money for unexpected expenses or overspend.

“It’s always advisable to set aside emergency savings that can easily be accessed or transferred from your mobile banking app to your Travel Money Card when unexpected situations arise. It’s also important that travellers are realistic about what they can afford while travelling and keep track of their spending to ensure they are sticking to their holiday budget.”

The research revealed holiday budget blunders were also having knock-on effects when travellers returned home, with over a quarter (28 per cent) making sacrifices when they returned home; choosing to stay in on weekends and eat cheaply.

CommBank’s Travel Checklist for Avoiding Budget Blowout

1.     Plan for the return home, as well as the holiday: More than one in seven (15 per cent) Australians admit they don’t plan for regular expenses while they are away or when they return home. Ensure your accounts linked to recurring payments have enough money to cover expenses while you’re away and put aside money to cover these expenses when you return.  

2.     Use downtime to check in on your spending: The final days of a holiday are the easiest to overspend, with two thirds (67 per cent) of Aussies admitting this was when they were most likely to forget about their budgets. Make it easy to check in regularly on your holiday budget by choosing a travel money card that is easily accessible through an online app, like the CommBank Travel Money Card.

3.     Carry a mixed wallet: When travelling overseas, Australians turn to emergency credit cards or savings (78 per cent) or mum and dad (31 per cent of Gen Z travellers) when their holiday budgets run low. In order to avoid phoning home for help, it’s important to carry a mixed wallet of local cash, alongside your credit or debit card and a travel money card. Travellers using the CommBank Travel Money Card can reload in real time from their linked transaction and savings accounts.

4.     Lock in exchange rates before you travel: Fluctuating exchange rates are a real concern for Aussies when putting together their holiday budgets (31 per cent) so lock in the exchange rate for up to 13 currencies with the CommBank Travel Money Card so you always know how much you have to spend.

To find out more about CBA’s travel offering, including travel insurance and the CommBank Travel Money Card, visit

Notes to editors:

Independent research company, ACA research, conducted the CommBank survey during April 2018 with 1,073 Australian respondents over the age of 18 who travelled overseas in 2017/2018.

[1] Based on numbers from Tourism Research Australia, who found in FY2017 there were 5.115 million overseas trips. With 58 per cent overspending overseas, that’s 3 million Aussies overspending by an average of $1,554.