Holidays are a big investment of time and energy – not to mention money – so it’s well worth doing a bit of homework to get the right trip at the best price. We’ve asked the experts for their advice to help you save money, wherever you’re off to!
Before you go
Costs depend on where and when you want to travel, but when it comes to really driving down prices a little flexibility can go a long way. A few days difference in departure dates can mean that air fares and hotel rates vary considerably. And don’t forget to check all UK airports too. Driving or taking the train to a different airport could be cheaper than flying from your nearest one.
Factor in the whole price of a holiday, not just flights and hotel. “If you fly long haul to places like Goa or Thailand, the air fare will be pricey, but day-to-day expenses will be lower than in the UK,” says Sean Tipton at ABTA.
“Choose an all-inclusive break if you’re heading to Turkey or the Greek Islands as food and drink prices are high,” says Maria Whiteman at Directline Holidays. “Considering Croatia? Room only or b&b offers better value overall because food costs are lower.”
For city breaks consider Eastern Europe. Prague and Budapest are not only beautiful and cultural – they’re currently less than half the price of other Eurozone cities such as Paris and Bruges. When it comes to eating out Spain is Europe’s cheapest holiday destination with a meal for two with wine averaging just £22.
Shopping around is a good idea, but booking online isn’t always cheaper. “High street travel agents can often access discounted rates offered by hotels and you benefit from an agent’s travel expertise,” says Sean Tipton.
If you have access to a computer do your homework before you go to the travel agent. You’ll be better equipped to choose the right offer – plus tour operators can often match an online price.
Driving to the airport? Compare parking prices at Holidayextras.co.uk/yours (0800 781 4083)
Brits are willing to spend more than £4,000 to get a trip of a lifetime, with travelling to a unique location and staying in five-star accommodation top of wish lists, says Tesco Travel Money.
Swap homes and save
If you don’t mind the thought of strangers sleeping in your bed and like the idea of holidays for less, then house swapping could be for you.
You simply arrange to exchange homes with someone who’d like to visit your area, saving on the cost of accommodation.
Retired animal nurse Pauline Sedgewick (68) signed up to holiday-swap internet site HomeLink. She owns a two-bed house in picturesque Carnforth, Lancashire: “I wanted to emigrate to Australia after my husband died, but I didn’t meet the entry criteria. I discovered Homelink and did my first swap eight years ago to Sydney. Since then I’ve had fantastic holidays in Canada and the US. My tip is to speak to the people you’re exchanging with beforehand.”
- HomeLink (01962 886882)
While you’re away
Once you’ve booked your dream break how can you make your holiday spending money go further?
Take local currency as well as a credit or debit card so you have multiple methods of payment for different situations. If you’re intending to spend on plastic, find one that doesn’t charge fees for use abroad. For debit cards try Norwich and Peterborough Building Society (0845 300 2511), and for credit cards the Post Office (0800 169 2000).
Shop around the high street for the best travel money deals as exchange rates do vary. “Don’t
buy currency at the airport – you’ll get a raw deal,” says Andrew Hagger at Moneycomms.co.uk.
If you’re hiring a car abroad get excess insurance. “Excesses can be as high as £2,000 with some rental companies. But you don’t have to buy it from the car hire firm – Protect Your Bubble offers it from £2.42 a day,” recommends Stephen Ebbett at Protect Your Bubble.
If you’re planning to use your mobile phone abroad you must talk to your network provider before you travel. To stop bills racking up, turn off ‘data roaming’ and use free Wi-Fi where available. Better still, buy a local pay-as-you-go SIM card for your phone and use that instead.
Cover up in the sun
Getting the right travel insurance is crucial, as your insurer will cover the costs of medical or emergency services bills. Yours recommends Holidayextras.co.uk/yours (0800 781 4083) or compare policies at www.moneysupermarket.com. If something bad happens, call your insurer. Keep all documentation and get advice from your case handler before paying for anything. Holidaying in Europe? Get a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) for access to the same healthcare as a resident of that country. Apply for free at ehic.org.uk (0191 218 1999). Some other websites charge a fee.