Although most people are familiar with ways of cutting their holiday travel and accommodation costs, it’s often the unexpected, hidden charges that can put a dent in your holiday budget. These can soon mount up.
In this article, we look at 8 of the most common ways you can find yourself paying too much whilst on holiday and how to save money. We consider:
- Taking out travel insurance
- Getting to and from the airport
- Avoid spending at the airport
- Don’t let airlines part you from your cash
- Download apps before your departure
- Using your mobile abroad
- Watch out for car hire add-ons
- Consider cheaper alternatives to car hire
Taking out travel insurance cover
According to ABTA (Association of British Travel Agents), 38% of Britons take out no travel insurance or invalidate their policy by not declaring pre-existing medical conditions, or by engaging in activities specifically excluded from the policy.
Some people are under the misconception that their EHIC (European Health Insurance Card) or the British Embassy will cover them for costs associated with repatriation. This isn’t the case, and can run into thousands of pounds.
It’s crucial that you take out travel insurance as soon as you make your holiday reservations. Not only will it offer you medical cover but also offer you a refund if you’re forced to cancel the holiday or for the loss or theft of possessions.
Taking out a stand-alone policy can be much cheaper than those which are part of your holiday package or from a travel agent. If you travel more than twice a year, an annual policy will be more cost-effective.
Getting to and from the airport
If you’re planning to drive yourselves to the airport and leave your vehicle in the airport car park, you can make considerable savings by booking online beforehand. The earlier you book, the more of a discount you’ll get.
If family or friends are dropping you off and/or picking you up at the airport, check if there are charges for using the drop off/pick up zone at the airport. It might be worth checking if there’s a free park and ride shuttle bus that you could use instead. Alternatively, see if it’s possible to use public transport to get to the airport. Book early for more savings, and leave plenty of time to allow for possible delays.
Avoid Spending at the Airport
Because airports recognise that you are their ‘captive’, anything that you buy there will be much more expensive. Never use the bureaux de change for purchasing foreign currency as they have the worst exchange rates.
Bring snacks from home and bottles of water of up to 100 ml so that you don’t have to pay airport prices for refreshments. Don’t forget to put some transparent plastic bags in your hand luggage for carrying liquids through security checks because some airports will charge you £1-£2 for them.
Even shopping from Duty Free isn’t necessarily a bargain on the outward bound journey. Check the cost of living in your destination. You might find that products like wine are cheaper in local supermarkets than at duty-free.
Don’t let the airlines part you from your cash
Would you believe that airlines make an estimated £62 billion a year from all their additional charges such as baggage fees, serving onboard food and drinks and seat selection?
Over a quarter of this money (27%) comes from baggage fees. Before you pack, you must check the airline’s website to find out the baggage allowance for both check-in and carry-on luggage and its size/dimensions. Try not to pack too much, and remember that your baggage will be heavier on the return journey if you’re planning to go shopping.
Airlines make an estimated £62 billion a year from all their additional charges such as serving onboard food and drinks and seat selection.
Checking in online can save you a lot of money, especially if you want to pay for extra luggage. Think about whether seat selection is worth it. If you’re travelling alone, does it really matter whether you sit next to the window?
Download apps before you leave
In the run-up to your departure, there are plenty of apps that you can download and save on your smartphone. From apps that act like sat navs to guides on historical sights, you can save a lot of money on your holiday costs by using these apps. For example, you can organise your own sightseeing itinerary without forking out on expensive guided tours.
Using your mobile abroad
Since June 2017, new EU rules have made it much cheaper to use your mobile abroad. For further savings, you could activate roaming. If you’re travelling outside the EU, the cost of data can be prohibitive so put your phone in aeroplane mode, or only use free Wi-Fi hotspots.
Watch out for car hire add-ons
The earlier you book a hire car, the less you’ll pay per day. This will also allow you to get cheaper excess insurance independently from the UK. Before hiring the car, check the stipulations about fuel and avoid add-ons like air conditioning and child car seats. Most airlines will transport child car seats free of charge so bring your own.
Before you drive off, take photos of the vehicle both inside and outside. In this way, you’ll avoid being charged for damage that was done before you took possession of the car. Also, make sure that the car is clean before you return it. Some tourists have been charged hundreds of pounds for a cleaning fee.
Consider cheaper alternatives to car hire
Depending on how far afield you want to go sightseeing at your holiday destination, think about whether hiring a car is really worth it. With the right preparation, you could arrange to see all the attractions in a particular area using public transport. Not only is it cheaper but it gives you a chance to sit back and enjoy the scenery without being stressed by driving on unfamiliar roads. Alternatively, it might be more economical to take taxis rather than hire a car. In some countries, taxis are much cheaper than in the UK.
Concluding words about keeping your holiday expenses down
With the right preparation beforehand, you can greatly reduce your holiday expenditure. In this way, you can enjoy your break away from the daily grind without worrying about your finances, and how you can avoid getting into debt to pay for it all.