clock icon5 Minute Read
BY ANGELINA YAO

Have you started planning your 2019 getaways? Maybe an ultimate Caribbean beach holiday, a glamping experience in Acadia National Park, or your annual family skiing trip to Niseko, Japan? The 2019 Hong Kong Public Holidays national calendar lists 15 public holidays (not counting weekend days) and we’re excited to pencil in some vacations for the new year.

What better way to bring a little breathing room and tranquility to your life than taking a well-deserved holiday? But before you dive into planning, learn some travel hacks for the public holidays calendar and prepare financially for your travels with our money-saving tips.

Leverage public holidays for four long vacations and six getaways.

It’s all about leverage — stretching your annual leave days into the maximum time away. You can definitely turn 13 days of annual leave into four long vacations of more than seven consecutive days. How? By being strategic. For example, take off Monday and Friday of the Lunar New Year holiday week and you can enjoy nine days away (Saturday through the following Sunday).

Five long weekends in 2019 give you three days in a row for city breaks. Or you can lengthen your weekend getaway to four days to travel a bit further. A three- to six-hour flight from Hong Kong gets you to most countries in Southeast Asia or South Asia. And if you’re willing to travel in the evening, you can leave after your last day of work and arrive in time to sightsee the following morning!

Here’s how to maximize your time away around the 2019 holidays.

Long holidays (7+ days)

  • Chinese New Year Holidays (5th to 7th Feb 2019)
    • Take 2 days off (2nd and 8th) to get 9 days in total
  • Easter Holidays (19th to 22nd Apr 2019)
    • Take 4 days off (23rd, 24th, 25th, and 26th Apr) to get 10 days in total
  • National Day Holiday
    • Take 4 days off (30th Sep, and 2nd, 3rd and 4th Oct) to get 10 days in total
  • Christmas & New Years
    • Take 3 days off (27th, 29th, and 31st Dec) and get 8 days in total

Short vacations

  • Labour Day (1st May): Take Take 2nd and 3rd May to get 5 days in total

Long weekends (3 days)

  • Ching Ming Festival (5th April): 5th to 7th April
  • Birthday of Buddha Holiday (13th May): 11th to 13th May
  • Tuen Ng Festival (7th Jun):  7th to 9th Jun
  • HKSAR Establishment Day (1st Jul): 29th Jun to 1st Jul
  • Chung Yeung Festival (7th Oct): 5th to 7th Oct

Bonus Tip: Bleisure

The word “bleisure” sounds a little odd but the idea makes total sense. It refers to business trips that are extended for pleasure. Business travelers stretch out their stays to enjoy the destination or even integrate leisure experiences throughout the length of a business trip. Blesiure is an up-and-coming trend in Hong Kong — and a great way to further leverage your holidays in the coming year if you’re a frequent business traveler.

Prepare your wallet early to optimize your travel experiences.

Is your wallet prepared to take advantage of these travel hacks? Have you set aside money for your travel aspirations? Adding the money factor into travel can make it seem less fun. But it will be nice to know you have extra cash to spend on dining at Michelin-starred restaurants, staying at five-star hotels, or engaging in life-changing experiences.

Our top six tips for money-saving holidays:

1. Open a savings account and set up automatic transfers.

Start depositing a fixed sum every month into a separate account to develop your travel fund. Why create a separate account? The psychology of saving money suggests you’ll find it easier not to dip in to money that you’ve put aside in a separate account for a specific purpose. And if you set up automatic monthly transfers, creating your travel fund becomes hassle-free.

Using a single, dedicated account also will help you keep on budget during your trip, since the easiest way to know how much you are spending is to track the balance of your dedicated travel account. You can keep an eye on your balance as your trip progresses and track the true cost of your trip without too much effort.

2. Get the best rate for foreign currencies.

With your travel fund established and growing, make sure you purchase foreign currencies or set up a plan for currency exchange before you travel. Apart from going to the bank or finding the money changers with the best rate, you can use new products like YouTrip, a credit card with a linked multi-currency travel wallet, to skip the queue for currency exchange and get the best exchange rate on the go.

3. Know the best and cheapest months to travel – and plan ahead.

Nothing saves money like planning does, especially for travel. So, if you have a destination in mind already for next year, make sure you at least book your air tickets a few months before your travel dates. If you’re not booking a flight using miles or points, then planning ahead is your best strategy for getting the best flight deals. Check airline websites or use comparison tools like the Skyscanner app or the Momondo site to find the cheapest flight that fits your schedule.

According to Skyscanner, the best time to book tickets to some of Hong Kong’s most popular destinations varies, although November is the cheapest month to visit five of the city’s top-ten destinations. You can stay on top of the game by checking out Skyscanner’s “Best Time To Book” insights below to secure the least expensive airline tickets for these public holidays. For example, you only need to book six weeks in advance to grab a bargain flight to Taipei, but you’ll need to book six months ahead for the best deal on travel to Vancouver.

Source: 2017 Best Time To Book Insights from Hong Kong, Skyscanner Hong Kong

You can also plan ahead and save significant amounts on airfares using other online travel metasearch tools and features like Skyscanner Price Alerts to get notified when prices of your desired flight tickets drop.

BONUS TIP: Look for cheap last-minute deals.

Want to be spontaneous? There are deals for people who don’t plan ahead, too. A site like Airfare Watchdog gives you updates on last-minute flight deals from your location. Of course, you won’t want to miss out the airlines’ promotional sites like Fanfares by Cathay Pacific.

4. Use airline miles or credit card points to book flights.

Many airlines and major credit cards offer airline miles as purchase rewards. Obviously, you’ll need to start planning in advance if you want to take advantage of accumulated miles and points. And read the fine print when applying for a rewards credit card to avoid excessive fees and restrictions.

Some credit cards help you earn more miles and points when you spend overseas or at airports. Leverage that to earn extra miles while purchasing duty-free goodies at the airport so you can earn your next free flight sooner.

5. Protect yourself and your trip with travel insurance.

After you book your trips and before you plan any of your itineraries, make sure you purchase travel insurance for your trip. You’ll have the comfort of knowing you’re financially taken care of if something comes up that requires you to cancel your plans. And insurance can literally be a lifesaver in the event of an emergency abroad — medical or otherwise. If you experience an emergency or delay, you have the comfort of knowing you’re financially taken care of. Better safe than sorry!

There are a lot of travel insurance options out there. Some airlines offer travel insurance when you book your flights. Many credit cards offer travel insurance when you book flights and stays. Travel agencies also offer insurance packages that go along with their tours and hotels. Some travel insurance packages cover hotel nights that can’t be used due to flight delays, as well as compensating you for mishaps like broken GoPro cameras or drones. Review the options to make sure the policy is comprehensive enough. You can always get a third-party policy from companies like MSIG, Prudential, or AXA if the policies offered by your credit card company or other entities don’t cover your needs.

If you’re a particularly adventurous traveler, pay close attention to the terms and conditions of the policies. Basic travel insurance doesn’t usually cover accidents that occur during activities such as trekking, river rafting, bungee jumping, or skydiving, or on safari. Purchase a premium travel insurance policy if you need it.

For frequent travelers, buying an annual travel insurance policy removes the hassle of getting one for every trip.  

6. Alert your bank and credit card company about your travel plans.

This last money-saving tip, like the travel insurance tip, is all about making things easier. A quick call or email to your bank and credit card company alerting them to your travel plans before you leave is all it takes to make sure you’re not locked out of accessing funds when you need them most. Anyone whose credit card has been frozen due to suspicious activity while overseas will understand just how important this tip is. Sometimes, banks fail to alert you before putting a hold on your card. That’s a nuisance to deal with while you’re traveling, not to mention all the time it takes to sort out the problem.

 

Whether you’re an experienced traveler or just starting out roaming the world, make planning around the public holidays part of your New Year’s resolutions. You’ll stretch your vacation days and dollars further. And what could feel better while on holiday than knowing you’re getting the most from your money?

Angelina's signature

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You May Also Like
Personal Finance
The Self-Care Routine You Can’t Live Without
Think of retirement planning as self-care on steroids. You’re not just honoring yourself, you’re honoring your future self.
Personal Finance
Compound Interest: A Girl's Best Friend
It pays to start early. The sooner you start investing, the sooner you’ll start making money—and you’ll make more of it.