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Travel Money

5 money mistakes to avoid on holiday

By Lottie Gross, a travel writer who has written for the likes of The Telegraph, The Times, The Independent, The i and more. She is also the author of the guidebook Dog-Friendly Weekends.

We all make mistakes on holiday. Not applying enough sun cream, forgetting to pack a hat, bringing the wrong adapter: these are easy mistakes to make, and they’re usually easily solved. But money mistakes are harder to swallow and they can ruin a holiday. Avoid these holiday money mistakes to make your next break a relaxing one:

Stop spending money on wrong things

There are all sorts of expenses that come along with holidays, but many aren’t always necessary. If you’ve got a room-only rate at your hotel, don’t pay for the onsite breakfast buffet – it’s highly unlikely you’ll get your money’s worth. Instead, head to a local cafe where it’s likely to be much cheaper, or even bring your own cereal bars along if you’re not a big breakfast eater.

Packing all the right things for your holiday is a sure-fire way to save cash – you don’t want to be purchasing expensive, overpriced items in the airport or running around looking for whatever you need when you get there. Make a packing list and be methodical and you’ll avoid those silly expenses.

Finally, one of the most common things we spend money on when on holiday is water, but it’s so unnecessary. Invest in a reusable water bottle and ask for refills of filtered water at restaurants or your hotel, or if the tap water is safe for drinking then just fill it up yourself. It’s better for the environment and better for your cash flow.

Don’t carry too much cash 

How many times have you got on the plane and found you’ve got a pocketful of loose change in foreign currency you can’t change back once you’re at home? While sometimes cash is necessary – for tipping, for example – carrying too much can mean you’re left with excess change you’ll have no use for at home. Try to spend your pennies wisely and don’t carry too much cash with you – it’s usually possible to tip via card nowadays, too.

Avoid cash machines that charge

When you do need to get cash, you should get it from the right places – and that means finding a free ATM. While your card might not charge you for withdrawing money, ATMs inside shops or within tourist attractions often charge a fixed fee for any transaction, whether it’s a foreign card or not. To avoid this, try only using ATMs attached to official banks, which are almost always free to use. Don’t forget, the Currensea card doesn’t charge you for withdrawals under £500 per month, and there’s just a 2% FX rate (1% for premium card holders) on anything above that, making it one of the cheapest, most cost effective cards on the market.

Don’t blow the budget too soon

It sounds simple but it’s so easy to get carried away when you’re on holiday. If you’ve made a budget, stick to it by setting a daily limit for meals and activities. Then, if you end up spending under, give yourself permission to splash whatever’s left on the final day – perhaps on a really special meal or exciting activity.

Don’t pay with sterling

When you’re presented with a card machine at the end of a meal or in a shop, it will often give you a number of options for alternative currency payments. It’s tempting to choose sterling at this point, as that’s what you’re used to and many think it might be a cheaper option, but this isn’t actually the best choice. The machine will do the currency conversion for you and it’s highly likely their rates are less favourable than the conversion your card will do, so always choose the local currency option.