We all do it. Set a budget for our vacation, and find we have overspent by the time we get home. All those little things add up to a big credit card bill, and we spend the next year paying it all back.
Here are our top tips on how to spend less on your Fiji vacation, without giving up any of the fun activities that will make your vacation one to remember (for all the right reasons, of course).
Duty Free: Let's start from the time you first arrive at the airport. The most common items to purchase at duty free, is tobacco and alcohol. And almost always, it is cheaper to buy these when you arrive at Nadi, rather than at your departure point.
To give an example of this. The last time I went through Auckland, the price of 250 grams of tobacco was around nz$115. The same tobacco was available at Nadi for fj$77 (that is approximately nz$52). That's a big saving, but one that most people won't realize is available. If you're a smoker, then save yourself an easy 50 bucks just by purchasing your tobacco or cigarettes from Fiji. Note: At this time, tobacco isn't available at Nadi airport. We will update this page once that changes.
Transport: Do you really need a rental car? Not if you are spending most of your vacation on the offshore islands, like the mamanuca or Yasawas. But what if your time is going to be spent around Denerau or the Coral Coast?
You can get a small rental car for as little as fj$135 and the insurances etc. add to the base price. In our opinion, if you are going to be based at just one or two main resorts, using taxis and/or buses will work out to be much cheaper.
Fiji has a great public transport system, and travelling by local buses is not only extremely cheap, it's fun too! If you intend to get off the beaten track, and don't want to be tied down to bus timetables, then yes, a rental car will make sense. But for many people, it will just be an unnecessary expense. If you are intending on taking tours and excursions, then most of those operate a pick up and drop off from all the main resorts, so your rental may not get used much anyway.
Resort Meal Plans: We always avoid these. The convenience of a meal plan is far outweighed by the extra costs. Unless your travel agent is offering a great deal on one of these, we advise on not purchasing a plan. To make any significant savings, you need to be sure you are going to eat 3 square meals a day. But how often will you be away from the resort (perhaps on a day trip) and miss a meal? Or perhaps the heat has curbed your appetite?
Let's use Outrigger On The Lagoon as an example. If you feel you must have a meal plan, then purchasing it on arrival will often save you money (no agent commission). But even then, it's still expensive at around fj$150 a day. By not taking the meal plan, you are able to walk up the beach or across the road (perhaps to Geckos Resort) and have dinner at half the price.
Pay Cash: Our advice is to pay cash whenever possible, rather than charge food drinks etc. to your room. Many resorts seem to actively discourage this... or at least that's our experience. The advantages of paying cash as you go are obvious. No credit card surcharges added to your bill, you can keep track of your spending, and perhaps most importantly, you won't have other peoples meals added onto your room charges by mistake. Try deciphering a weeks worth of transactions to find the meals or drinks that you know you didn't order, but have been charged to your card!
Avoid Resort Convenience Stores: The kids use the last of the sunscreen, so you pop into the resort store to get another bottle. And guess what, the price is 400% higher than you expected! But what choice do you have, other than to pay it? Especially if you are on a "one resort island". It's not as if you can just swim over to the mainland to get what you need.
You need to do that before you depart for your resort. Grab all those little things you might need at the supermarket. Sunscreen, torch batteries, snacks for the kids, etc. A small bottle of beer at a resort will cost around fj$10. The same bottle at a supermarket will be about fj$3. So perhaps consider bringing a few dozen "Fiji Gold" with you to the resort. Most island resorts have a policy of not allowing you to bring your own alcohol, they prefer you to purchase from their bar (of course). We are not suggesting that you flout their rules, but if you did accidentally pack some beer into your suitcase, then it would be a shame to waste it, right?