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Australians can expect to pay up to 128% more for travel arrangements

As the colder months draw near in Australia, it’s a smart move to start planning your holidays early. Recent research from NordVPN has uncovered that Australians often pay hundreds (sometimes thousands) of dollars more than international customers when booking vacations through local websites. This price discrepancy affects popular holiday services, including car rentals and hotel stays. We’ll explore these findings and show you how using a VPN can help secure a more affordable holiday.

Australians can expect to pay up to 128% more for travel arrangements

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

How did the research work?

NordVPN researchers used a virtual private network (VPN) to simulate holiday searches from Australia and abroad. A VPN conceals your IP address, allowing you to appear as though you’re browsing from a selected location. For example, while living in Sydney, you could use a VPN to appear as if you’re browsing from Mexico, potentially unlocking cheaper flights and hotels.

In this study, the research team initially checked prices for specific hotel stays and car rentals as if booking directly from Australia. They then switched their server connection to the locations they were considering for their holidays — the UK, Mexico, Bali, Italy, Costa Rica, and Thailand — making it seem like they were browsing from these destinations.

This method revealed a significant price difference — vacations booked from Australia were considerably more expensive than those booked from the actual travel destinations. Let’s delve deeper into these findings.

Main findings

NordVPN researchers discovered significantly lower prices from providers like Hertz, Agoda,, and when booking from outside Australia. They noted that Australian vacationers could save $1,762.95 on a 14-night stay in a 5-star hotel in Thailand for a family of four by booking through a Thai server. Let’s take a closer look at these significant price differences.

  • Save 55.99% on car rental in Cancun. Researchers analyzed the cost of renting a Chevrolet Beat for seven days in August 2024 in Mexico. They found that by using a VPN to connect to a server in Mexico, the rental price dropped from $912.06 to $401.38, saving Australian travelers $510.62.
  • Save $487.45 on luxury apartments in Rome. Booking a 14-night stay at the Major House apartments for two adults would normally cost Australian vacationers $5,161.33. However, if you book the same vacation using an Italian VPN server, the cost drops to $4,673.88 — saving 9.44%. Essentially, you get a one-night stay for free and have some leftover money for gelato.
  • Save 19.73% on car rentals in Bali. Researchers exploring the cost of renting a Toyota Avanza SUV through discovered that Australian holidaymakers could save as much as $220.90, or 19.73%, by booking on the local website. Booking from Australia, the price was $1,117.67, but it dropped to $896.77 when booked as though browsing from Bali.
  • Save 21.83% on a 4-star hotel stay in Thailand. Booking a 14-night stay at Arinara Beach Resort Phuket for a family of four normally would cost Australian travelers $2,402.04. However, booking via a Thai VPN server reduces the cost to $1,877.76, saving holidaymakers $524.24.
  • Save $475.48 on a 3-star high-rise hotel stay in Costa Rica. When researchers compared the cost of a two-week stay at the Hilton Garden Inn San Jose La Sabana for a family of four through, they found that Australian holidaymakers could save 12.06% by booking through the local website. The price dropped from $3,943.52 when booked from Australia to $3,468.04 when booked as if browsing from Costa Rica.
price difference comparison australia

Other findings were less significant. For instance, using a VPN connected to a server in Mexico to book a two-week stay in August at the Hyatt Vivid Grand Island Cancun for two adults resulted in a modest saving of $119.78.

Similarly, two adults booking a two-week stay in a studio apartment in London through a local service would save $312.50. However, these savings represent a discount of only 1.50% to 4.14%.

Why is the pricing so different?

You’ll find different prices for holiday booking based on the country you’re browsing from for several reasons, some of which are:

  • Currency exchange rates. Travelers booking holidays from different countries might experience fluctuating currency exchange rates. Currency fluctuations can directly affect the overall cost of the holiday. A strong exchange rate can lower expenses, while a weaker one may raise costs.
  • Cost of living and local economy. Booking from a country with a higher cost of living can make lower-cost destinations appear more budget-friendly and vice versa. Additionally, countries with strong economies may often have higher holiday prices, both domestically and abroad.
  • Company location. Providers may lower prices or offer better deals in their home countries. That’s why connecting to the server in the country where the company is based is always worthwhile.
Marijus Briedis, chief technology officer at NordVPN, says, “Never assume you’re seeing the same price as everyone else. Companies use all kinds of complex algorithms to cater to the purchasing power of different countries. They will routinely show different prices on different website domains, and it can even differ depending on where you’re visiting from.”

Save money on holiday bookings with a VPN

Why pay more for a holiday abroad just because you live in a different country? By using a VPN, you can save money to use for future vacations. Plus, setting up and getting started with a VPN is incredibly easy.

First, it’s crucial to select a reliable VPN provider. At NordVPN, we prioritize your privacy and security above all else. With servers covering 111 countries, you can access holiday booking services worldwide, not just in one region or continent.

Whether you opt for NordVPN or another provider, the setup process should be similar.

  1. Choose a VPN provider and get a subscription.
  2. Download and install the VPN app on your device.
  3. Open the app, create an account if needed, and sign in using your credentials.
  4. Select a VPN server in the country of your choice, then connect to it.
  5. Visit the websites of various travel arrangement companies and take note of their prices.
  6. Repeat this process with different server locations to find the best deal. We recommend you clear your browser’s cache or open a new incognito window before revisiting the sites to prevent them from recognizing you as a returning user, which could affect the prices displayed.

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Is it legal to use a VPN to get better deals?

VPNs are legal in most countries, and so is using a VPN to access better deals. However, you must read the terms and conditions of the websites you’re accessing. Some websites may prohibit VPN usage or have specific policies against it. Nonetheless, in most cases, using a VPN to search for better travel arrangements is within legal bounds.


The research was commissioned by NordVPN and conducted by an external agency between April 8 and 17, 2024. Researchers used different country servers to search for identical products from the same vendor.