Buy Your Money Before You Travel
Having all your money in order before you go will save you from hole-in-the-wall bank charges when withdrawing money. Don’t buy your money at the airport, either – get it in advance. Shop around a bit so you can find a better rate of exchange, and make sure you’re buying from a company that’s authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). MoneySavingExpert has a great currency calculator that allows you to search for the current best prices.
Use Comparison Sites
The best way to find the cheapest holiday is to use comparison sites – and there’s plenty out there. So, it’s about what you’re looking for and finding the right tool for the job. If you want something easy, use Skyscanner to find cheap flights, or TravelSupermarket and Flights Direct if you’re going to a more traditional package holiday destination, as they include chartered flights. And the same goes for booking a hotel – before you do anything, check who’s selling it cheapest. Try Trivago and TripAdvisor, as they give great options on slashed hotel prices. And always make sure you read the reviews – they’ll be a dead giveaway as to whether your affordable hotel is worth booking.
Beware Of Hidden Taxes And Charges
Be aware that some comparison sites won’t always show the price upfront – sometimes you only find out the true figure when you get to the last page of the booking, and occasionally only when you get to the hotel, which can make a real dent in your spending money if you’re not prepared for it. MoneySavingExpert say that many countries charge between £10-£30 a day in room tax: “Even if a website says that taxes at a particular percentage rate apply on top of the price displayed, you may not find out the actual cost until later. This can mean that some sites unfairly come up cheapest when you're searching.” So, always try and check the final price carefully before choosing your destination.
Don’t Forget The Extras
It pays to be organised. RentalCars.com advise aiming to book your vehicle three to six months in advance of your holiday, as this is the best time to make the biggest savings. “As soon as you’ve booked your flights and accommodation, this should be the next thing you do. Not only will booking in advance save you from last-minute price increases, it will also give you more choice with the types of vehicles available to you.”
But make sure you’re aware of all extra costs – according to iCarHireInsurance.com, many holidaymakers are still not factoring in extra costs when they’re hiring a car – for example, a compact car to hire for one week in Spain might only be around £116 right now, but to have an extra driver (£61), a sat nav (£92), a child’s seat (£74), and insurance waivers such as Super Damage (£86), super theft (£67) and tyre and windscreen cover (£31) added on, this puts on an additional £411 on the original car hire price.
Check In At Home
“Make sure you check in online and print your boarding passes at home, especially when airlines charge for printing and check-in at the airport,” Nicky Kelvin, UK Director of Content at travel site The Points Guy, tells us. With some airlines, you’ll be charged for not printing them yourself. “Ryanair travellers must pay £55 to check in at the airport and £25 to print their boarding card at the airport.” Shocking!
Cash or Card?
When it comes to spending your hard-earned cash abroad, a credit card is your safest bet. Rely on two; have one for everyday spending and one for refundable items like hotel and car hire deposits, so you won’t run out of money. With credit cards, you’ll get a better exchange rate and no commission fees – however, don’t use your credit card to withdraw from ATMs as you’ll be charged a fee and interest (unless it’s an item over £100 – you’ll pay a fee, but you’ll also get some protection). Instead, get yourself a Monzo card, which you can use anywhere in the world for free – you can pay in shops and restaurants anywhere in any currency with no fees, and you can withdraw up to £200 every 30 days for free (with a 3% charge on withdrawals after that).
Pay In Local Currency
When you spend money abroad, you might be asked whether you want to pay in pounds or local currency – go for the latter. In her book Money Lessons, Lisa Conway-Hughes says you could pay nearly 8% more paying in pounds. “The ability to pay in both is called dynamic currency conversion. It’s very common in Europe and Asia and I have often seen it in the USA,” she says. “It is estimated that British tourists will pay nearly £500 million in additional charges this year alone due to dynamic currency conversation. This extra money is split between the place where you are spending money (e.g. hotel, restaurant, shop) and the company that they rent their payment terminals from.”
Leaving your car at the airport can cost a fortune, but if you plan in advance, you can cut the cost by up to a third. “There are lots of different car parks around airports, so take some time to research your options, including on- and off-site parking, valet, and local car parks,” advises Sam Katterfield, in-house expert at travel search platform, HolidayPirates. “Typically, off-site and local car parks will be the cheapest, but keep in mind that their security and availability might be limited. Also, make sure that you check the transfer time to the terminal, security, and late charges, so that you are not hit by any surprises at the end of your travels. If you decide to park on a road close by instead, then make sure that you check the council’s website for upcoming roadworks and suspensions that might happen in the area while you are away.” And just as with flights and accommodation, there are even comparison sites for parking – Sam recommends checking Looking4Parking and SkyPark Secure for the best deals. “Groupon and Wowcher sometimes also offer discounts on airport parking, so give them a visit before you book to see if you could make any savings,” he adds.
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