As we battle Britain’s big freeze, it’s inevitable that our thoughts will turn to booking that dream summer holiday. However, with most of us still paying the bills from the festive period it’s important to be savvy with your holiday budget.
In fact, recent research by First Choice, conducted with the Centre of Economic and Business Research (CEBR), shows that more than half of holidaymakers overspent on holiday last year, costing consumers £403m in total.
So to help you make the most of your hard-earned cash here, are 25 top holiday money saving tips for before you go when you’re there and when you get back home. Happy saving!
Before you go
1. The early bird
For families who want to book in advance make sure you’re browsing up to 11 months ahead of when you want to go. This is when flights are typically first released by airlines so there will be plenty of cheaper seats available.
2. Time on your side
If you can avoid flying on Fridays or Saturdays as these tend to be the busiest and most expensive times. If you fly on a weekday you can save a lot of money, so make sure you shop around before booking.
3. Sign up for special offers by email or Twitter
Almost every company in the travel industry will have some special offers that they email or tweet out to subscribers. Sign up for a few providers that you know and like and keep checking what they’ve got on offer.
4. Book airport car parking in advance
If you require parking at airports such as Heathrow then it pays to look online, check the best deals and book in advance. You could save up to 60% on parking charges this way. It also means that you’ll have less to worry about on the day you travel and you won’t be stung by exorbitant parking fees at the airport.
5. Learn to haggle for your hotel
Don’t just accept the first price you’re quoted. Check online for availability and then check again a week or two later. If they still have availability then chances are they’ll want to get rid of those spare rooms and will be more open to you haggling the price. Make sure you have a few options in case they sell out!
6. Check the latest exchange rates
If you’re flexible as to where you travel then it’s definitely worth keeping an eye on the value of the pound. It fluctuates constantly and, with some clever research, you could end up in a country where your money stretches much further.
7. Plan ahead and shop around for travel money
If you leave holiday money until the last minute then you’ll be exchanging into foreign currency at the airport bureau which will always cost more so make sure you shop around. Whether you go to your bank, the post office or a bureau de change be wary of ‘commission free’ offers because the money will be recouped somewhere along the line. Generally in you being offered a worse exchange rate!
8. Check baggage allowances
Make sure you don’t miss hidden baggage charges. You may think you’re getting a great deal by opting for the cheapest flight but once all the extra charges add up it might not be such a great deal after all. If you are going on a golf or ski holiday for example and are taking your own equipment then airline charges will differ. Check these golf and ski baggage allowances as an example of how you could save money.
9. What insurance do you really need?
If you book your holiday by credit card then make sure you check if your card provider will cover you abroad automatically for doing so. You don’t want to spend unnecessary money on insurance if you’re already covered! If you’re not already covered then you might want to look into joint travel insurance if you’re in a couple. It tends to work out cheaper in much the same way as it does for two named drivers on a car insurance policy. If you’re traveling in Europe then you’ll want to get a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) which can be used to cover any necessary medical treatment due to accident or illness within the European Economic Area (EEA).
10. Check your passport
Many people get caught out by not checking their passport well in advance. If it’s expired then you’ll need to pay far more to rush your renewal application through at the last minute. Currently, a normal renewal costs £77.50 but the one-day premium service is £129.50 – a £52 price hike that’s easily avoided.
11. Take your own lunch
If you’re flying with a low-cost airline where food isn’t included in the price of your ticket then you’ll have to pay inflated fees for a pretty basic sandwich and a drink onboard. It’s worth remembering that while liquid can’t go through security food can, so why not take your own? You’ll make something far nicer and start your holiday with a great saving.
12. Check your mobile phone use
Call and text charges abroad, both sending and receiving, can be monstrously high abroad. Many phone companies offer bundles that you can purchase before you go away or you could keep your phone purely for emergencies. You are on holiday after all!
13. Play your cards right
Do you know how much your card provider charges for using it abroad? It can be quite a significant amount per transaction so make sure you’re aware of what you’ll be paying for each transaction and try not to make too many withdrawals.
When you’re there
14. Set a budget for each day
None of us want to be penny pinching when we’re on holiday but setting a budget for each day is simple common sense and will ensure that costs don’t escalate out of control. Make it realistic and not only will you avoid overspending but the treats you enjoy will be all the better for it!
15. When in Rome
The big tourist areas in any given town or city are easy to find and so we often flock there in great numbers. However, restaurants and bars in the area raise their prices to capitalise. Why not seek out the places the locals go? They’ll be cheaper and generally better quality plus you’ll experience what your destination is really like.
16. Perfect the art of haggling
In Britain we struggle to haggle as it’s just not in our DNA. However, in some countries it’s rude not to and can make a holiday purchase much more fun. Make sure you do you research on where and when it’s appropriate though as you don’t want to cause offence or pay over the odds.
17. Carry a bottle of drink around with you
Especially if you’re in a hot country it’s important to keep yourself hydrated. Avoid spending more than you need to on drinks from cafes and bars by buying a bottle of water at the start of the day and sipping from it regularly as you see the sites. Investing in a good water bottle carrier will ensure that this doesn’t weigh you down.
18. Look for special discount tickets
Many towns and cities have special deals on public transport where you can buy a discounted book of tickets for the underground in advance rather than one at a time. If you know you’re going to use public transport a lot this can be really useful. Also keep an eye in your hotel lobby or ask your tour operator for any discounted tickets for the main attractions.
19. The best-laid plans
Not everyone will want to plan out their day in its entirety but if you want to save money it’s easy to save on travel if you know where you want to go in advance. It will mean you don’t have to spend money on buses, cabs or petrol constantly backtracking to your hotel or things you’ve missed along the way.
20. Ditch the car
Not possible for everyone of course but if you can walk or cycle to work when you get back from holiday rather than drive or take the bus you’ll save money and burn off some of those holiday calories!
21. Embrace the potluck dinner
Hopefully you’ve had a great holiday and your friends will be longing to hear your traveller’s tales. Instead of going out on the town invite them round for a ‘pot luck’ dinner where each person brings a different dish for everyone else to try.
22. What’s down the back of the sofa?
Ok, don’t literally look down the back of your sofa (unless you really want to) but do check your wallet for any unused gift vouchers, or any loyalty cards you have for unused loyalty points that could shave welcome pennies off your shopping bill when you need it most.
23. Cut the coffee
This will be a challenge as you may well feel the urge for caffeine to help you get back into the swing of things but try to avoid popping out for a cappuccino or latte if you can. An average coffee will work out at about £3, if you have 5 of those a week then you’ll spend £15 which is £60 a month! A pretty significant (and relatively easy) saving to make when you’re back home.
24. I’ve lost interest
You’ve paid for your dream holiday on the credit card and you don’t want to think about it when you get back. We’ve all been there. However the sooner you pay it off the less you’ll pay in interest charges so work out how much you can realistically pay back each month as soon as you get back and stick to it.
25. Supply and demand
Every destination has its own unique trinkets or goods that can be bought cheaper than back home. You could exploit this to your advantage by bringing some back with you to sell when you get home via eBay for example or you could use them as unique birthday or Christmas gifts. Of course this depends on the space in your suitcase!
For more information please contact Stephen Baker at [email protected] or on 01273 760 988