Working in travel, I’m in regular contact with people who really know their industry. So once in a while, it’s great to be able to pass on some great insider tips. This time, the Editor in Chief of money.co.uk, Hannah Maundrell, shares her top travel tips…
Set yourself a budget
Decide what you can afford to spend and shop around for the best holiday you can get for your budget. Don’t overstretch yourself as it’ll mean stress on your return.
If you’re going for a package deal then find travel agents that offer identical breaks and play them off against one another. Negotiate to see who will give you the best deal – if they can’t drop the price then ask for extra perks.
Shop around for essential extras like airport car parking, travel insurance, car rentals and even your holiday wardrobe so you get more bang for your buck.
DIY V package deal
With companies like AirBnB and Couchsurfing on the rise, accommodation doesn’t have to be a big financial drain and it could be cheaper to build your holiday yourself. If you truly want to experience a country staying with the locals could enhance your experience and save you so much money. House swapping is another option worth considering.
If you choose to fly with a budget airline keep your eyes open for all the added extras and travel light. You will face hefty penalties for going over your luggage allowance and some airlines will even charge you extra sit together.
Do your research with an open mind and, if you’re travelling on a shoestring, be prepared to compromise. Prices can vary hugely and if you don’t mind stopping at an airport overnight you could save yourself hundreds on flights.
Travel insurance is a must, but going for the cheapest policy without looking at cover is a mistake that could leave you uninsured. Be honest about your health though as insurers won’t cover pre-existing conditions unless you declare them.
Get an EHIC if you’re travelling within the EU but you will still need insurance too. EHICs are free from the NHS – don’t get duped into paying for one. They have a time limit so check yours doesn’t need renewing before you travel.
If you go away more than twice a year go for annual insurance – it will generally work out cheaper then single trip. If you’re going for single trip then sort your insurance as soon as you book so you’re covered for cancellation. Joint cover tends to work out cheaper but if one traveller is significantly older, or has a health condition and the other doesn't then consider getting separate policies to save money.
Most debit and credit cards charge hideous foreign use fees so don’t be tempted to use your regular accounts when you travel. Get a credit card with no foreign transaction fees instead – just make sure you pay it off in full when you get home. Banks will be suspicious of any unexpected foreign activity, so it’s best to let them know you will be going away so they don’t block your card.
An alternative is to top up a fee free prepaid card when you see a decent exchange rate – you’ll lock in the rates and can use it to spend or withdraw cash while you're abroad. If you get the choice opt to pay in the local currency when purchasing goods or services as it works out cheaper.
Take foreign currency with you too, but be smart about it. It’s cheaper to get it exchanged before you go than at the airport. If you’ve left it until the last minute then order online for an airport pick up as you’ll still get a better deal.
Use a travel money comparison website to find the best exchange rates as they do vary dramatically. It’s best to pay for your travel money with cash or a debit card otherwise you might get stung with a cash withdrawal fee.
Say no to ridiculous mobile phone charges
If you choose to take your mobile with you abroad don’t fall into the trap of coming home with a hefty phone bill.
If you are traveling to the EU, costs of using your mobile are much cheaper than the rest of the world but it still costs. Check whether your contract gives you free calls and data; if not have a back up plan.
Elsewhere in the world it is best to avoid using your mobile unless you are hooked up to Wi-Fi. Turn your data roaming off to limit the damage, use Skype or WhatsApp to make calls over Wi-Fi and download maps and travel guides in advance.
See more easy ways to get a bigger and better holiday for less.