Cathy Toogood, travel journalist for the likes of The Times, The Telegraph and Independent.
With UK travel testing requirements removed for eligible fully-vaccinated passengers, plus many popular holiday destinations relaxing entry rules, holidays abroad are in high demand.
But whether you’re currently planning a trip-of-a-lifetime or a quick jaunt overseas for some sun, you won’t want to pay over the odds. So, to help you keep the cost of your next holiday to a minimum, here are five simple money-saving tactics.
If you don’t have your heart set on a certain destination, it may be worth considering travelling to a country where the cost of living is low rather than automatically opting for a tourist hotspot. This will mean that you could save on everything from food and drink to accommodation while you’re away.
In its 2021 Worldwide Holiday Costs Barometer (https://www.postoffice.co.uk/travel-money/holiday-money-report), the Post Office found that Sunny Beach in Bulgaria was the cheapest destination in Europe for eight tourist essentials, including dinner for two with a bottle of wine, soft and alcoholic drinks, sun-cream and insect repellent. These had a total cost of £27.71 compared to £94.72 for the same items in Nice, France, and £130.34 in Reykjavík, Iceland.
Another way to trim holiday costs is to travel at times when demand is lower. So, if you’re not tied to school holidays or are flexible on your departure day, look at holidays mid-week or when the schools have gone back.
For those with school-aged children, holidays at the end of the summer break (late August) tend to be cheaper than those at the beginning. So, compare prices for a few date ranges to pocket savings.
Once you’ve decided where and when you want to go, it may be tempting to snap up the first holiday deal that you see. But don’t! By shopping around for every element of a trip, from package holidays, flights, hotels and car hire to travel insurance, you should be able to save significantly and can go away safe in the knowledge that you found a good price.
A price-comparison site is a good place to start so you can see prices from a selection of companies side-by-side. But not all companies are included on these services, so it’s also worth checking prices with a few companies that you like direct as well, in case there are sales on or incentives for booking directly with them. And don’t be blinded by cheap prices alone, especially with items such as travel insurance. Make sure you are getting the best value for your money too.
How you spend on holiday can make a big difference to how much you are charged overall. If you use your normal credit or debit card abroad, you are likely to be hit with extra fees every time you use your plastic, from non-sterling transaction fees and a flat fee every time you use your card to ATM withdrawal charges – often 3-5%.
One way to keep these sneaky extra costs to a minimum is to take out a specialist travel card, such as Currensea’s direct debit travel card. This card can be used in the same way as your usual debit card, but it can save you at least 85% when compared to bank fees on every transaction abroad. It has a 0% foreign exchange (FX) rate on all overseas transactions with Premium and Elite plans, and a 0.5% FX rate with Essential plans, as well as fee-free ATM cash withdrawals up to £500. Plus, you can link it to your existing current account, so you won’t need to open a new one or worry about the hassle of topping up a pre-paid card.
Start as you mean to go on by taking a packed lunch for the airport or on-board your flight (but remember rules around liquids going through security). And pack an empty water bottle to fill up at a water fountain once you’ve passed through security checks. Use this water bottle to carry around with you while you’re away too.
And, if you plan on eating out regularly while you’re away, take advantage of fixed-price menus, which are often at lunchtime, to enjoy a substantial meal at a fraction of the cost.
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