Good value travel
"The pound recently hit its highest level against the euro for more than nine years, meaning that the Continent offers really good value for British holidaymakers," says Bob Atkinson travel expert at MoneySuperMarket.
"To get even more bang for your buck, it’s essential to take the time to work out how you are going to spend. There are substantial savings to be made by choosing the best option, so it’s worth doing some pre-planning."
Taking cash abroad
- When buying foreign currency, focus on the total price (including charges) rather than the exchange rate, and compare the cost of the same amount of holiday cash between providers to find the best deal
- Shop around in advance of your trip to find the best rate, as this can save you up to 10 per cent (otherwise you’re throwing £10 down the drain for every £100 exchanged). The best deals are usually found online for collection from city locations
- If you’ve left it too late to organise your cash, then pre-order it for collection at the airport via Travelex, as this will save you a significant amount on airport walk up rates
- If you are lucky enough to return home with unused spending money, you have a few options. You can keep it until your next trip if it’s a popular currency, or try and sell it to a friend at the rate you bought it. If you do need to sell it back to a provider then shop around for the best rate, and remember to focus on the total amount you’ll get back, rather than the rate and charges
- Unless you have no other option, avoid buying traveller’s cheques, as they are expensive and difficult to use.
- Keep on top of your spending by downloading a currency conversion app for your phone or tablet such as XE.
Using plastic abroad
- Don’t rely on your existing credit or debit cards whilst abroad, unless they are designed for overseas usage, most are not, so you’ll face hidden rip off charges. Instead, frequent travellers should invest in a market leading card designed for overseas spending, one of the best example is the Halifax Clarity card which consistently offers a great deal
- Those who go abroad less regularly should choose a pre-paid currency card that doesn’t charge withdrawal or purchase fees, typically CaxtonFx and FairFx have the leading cards. The one thing is to ensure that you make arrangements to get these cards far enough in advance that they’re available to you before you travel, and that you’ve activated them so they’re ready to use
- Make card payments in the local currency instead of paying in pounds. This can save up to 5% of hidden extra cost
- Make sure your card provider knows you are travelling overseas or you may find your transactions are blocked.
Buying travel insurance
- Buy travel insurance as soon as you book your holiday. Cancellation cover is included as standard on most policies, just ensure you pick a high enough level of cover to claim back the cost of your trip
- Shop around for the best deal by comparing policies online, but don’t buy the cheapest policy. Cover can be limited and excess charges for claims tend to be higher with the cheaper policies
- Never buy insurance from your tour operator, airline or travel agent without comparing prices online first. It might be the most convenient way to do it, but it’s rarely the best value
- When searching for a suitable policy, look for items such as travel delay, missed departure, travel abandonment and repatriation to the UK, as part of a belt and braces policy
- The type of holiday you’re going on will determine the type of policy you need. If you’re heading on a cruise holiday, regular cover may not be sufficient, and if you’re heading on a last minute sports break, you’ll need additional cover to a standard policy too
- If you’re a regular traveller, consider investing in an annual policy
- Bought a DIY trip of separate airlines and hotels? Ensure you have supplier failure as part of your cover
- Check whether you’ve got free insurance with a bank account. If so, make sure you read the terms and conditions really carefully to ensure you’re fully covered for the type of holiday you’re going on. Many cover for European travel only and rarely cover for trips such as cruise or winter sports without additional premiums.
How much travel insurance do I need?
MoneySuperMarket recommends at least the following level of cover:
- £2m for medical expenses
- £1m personal liability
- £3000 cancellation - or enough to cover the total cost of your holiday
- £1,500 baggage
- £250 for cash
- Policy excesses under £100
- Cover for scheduled airline failure and end supplier failure as desirable
- Delay cover (e.g. £20/hour for first 12 hours).
Understanding the policy
This could make the difference between a successful or unsuccessful claim, so:
- Beware of your personal baggage and money. There are limits on most policies, especially on single items of higher value, so check whether your designer clothing and sunglasses, cameras and tablet computers would be covered
- Check the excess rates on the policies you pick. Having a high excess on personal money for example could mean that actually making a claim for lost or stolen cash is pointless if the excess is too high
- If you realise your policy is not suitable for your needs, you can usually cancel it within 14 days and get a full refund – so long as the trip hasn’t started yet
- Familiarise yourself with the terms and conditions of your policy before you go. If you need to call your provider during your trip, you’ll do this with far more ease if you understand the policy you’ve taken out
- Keep a note of your policy number and claims line telephone number with you at all times. Either take a printed copy of your cover with you or have access to it via email.