Holidays are a time to splash out and spend your hard earned money. So follow our top 10 tips to make sure you get the best deals, leaving you more money to spend on having fun.
Don’t Be Afraid To Haggle with Travel Agents
Many travel agents sell the same holiday, so don’t be shy of using their competition for sales to your advantage. If you go into an agency, note down all the details of the holiday you want to book (the more details the better- the difference between flight times alone can add on an extra day in the sun). Then shop around. If you can find the same trip for cheaper elsewhere, see if the travel agent will do any better. It’s a little bit of effort that can go a long way.
Don’t let websites know you’ve looked at this trip before.
A crafty trick that lots of online holiday sites use is tracking your visit to their site, and then upping the price the next time you visit, to panic you into booking before the price rises again. You can avoid this by using the “private” mode on your web browser. This means once you’ve closed your browser, there is no record kept on your device of your activity so the website is not able to recognise you on subsequent visits.
Don’t Buy New Toiletries
Although it can seem smart to buy “travel size” shampoos etc to keep the weight of your luggage down, it can actually be far cheaper to use what you already have. Go to a pound or discount shop and look for their travel bottles – most stock sets of them among the beauty or hair products. Then simply squeeze some of your normal shampoo, conditioner, moisturiser etc into those. That way you’ll save on cash and weight in your case.
Research Credit and Debit Cards
Hidden charges for using your credit or debit card abroad can leave you with a hefty bill for a souvenir. If you are wary of taking lots of cash with you, or know you’ll have to pay a large amount (such as your hotel bill) while you’re there. It could be worth applying for a specialist travel credit card – but be aware that you should only use this abroad, as most have hidden charges if you use them at home.
If you don’t have time to apply for a new card, research the ones you already have – pick which ones to take, and find out if it is cheaper for you to pay direct on a card machine direct out there, withdraw from an ATM in big lumps or to top up on cash a little at a time.
Use Annual Travel Insurance
If you’re lucky enough to go on holiday more than once a year, taking out a year’s worth of travel insurance can be cheaper than insuring as you go. Remember, the price of a policy doesn’t usually indicate how good it is – check the Ts & Cs, but usually if you can find insurance at a rock bottom price, you should take it. Make sure you have an EHIC (European Health Insurance cards) card that is in date, too – it’s free, and entitles you to the state healthcare that nationals get for no extra cost for any country in the EU.
Also, don’t renew your travel insurance when it expires, wait until the just before you plan on traveling again.
Use The Native Currency
Sometimes abroad you are given the chance to pay in pounds rather than in foreign currency, or to be shown the amount in sterling at an ATM. As a general rule it’s best to avoid this, as they use a terrible rate of exchange to get the most money, so you often pay over the odds.
Ask How Much You Will Get For Your Pound
It can be confusing when looking to change your currency as to which deal is best, as the price in the window is often different to the actual exchange you get. As a general rule, by working out how much you want to exchange and then going around your high street and asking each lender “How much will I get for X amount of pounds from you?” you will find the best deal. Ignore the “commission free” and “no fee” signs, and just go with the one that will give you the most for your money.
Whatever you do, never change your money at the airport – they’re almost always a terrible exchange rate.
Don’t Use Credit Cards at Bureaux de Change
Cheekily, credit card companies class changing currency as a foreign transaction, even if you’re only on your local high street. So you could be charged as though you were shopping abroad, including having to pay interest on the money even if you pay the credit back in full.
Look Up Airport Transfer Options
Most package deals include transport to your hotel, but if you need to make your own way from the airport you can end up spending a lot of money before you’ve even unpacked.
Do your research on bus and train routes to avoid large taxi fares. For example, to get to the centre of Barcelona from the nearest airport costs 5.75 Euros using their buses which arrive every 5 minutes. In comparison, a taxi doing the same route will cost 30 Euros. However, it’s worth taking into account how much luggage you have to carry, and how far the bus stop is from your hotel (you can calculate before you go using Google Maps). Note: Use the local transport, as specialist airport transfer buses and trains are usually expensive.
If public transport isn’t an option for you, look into pre booking a taxi. Not only will you avoid waiting around, you’re also likely to save money (the same applies if you’re getting a taxi to the airport at home).
Work School Holidays to Your Advantage
It’s no secret holiday prices can almost double in school holidays. However, even those with children can work school holidays to their favour. Research the holidays of the country you’re going to – French school holidays finish earlier than ours, so you’ll find a trip to the Riviera could be far cheaper if you can wait until the last weeks in August and book direct.