As more of us are feeling the pinch from the credit crunch, many have tightened up on spending, becoming more aware of what they’re spending and taking a more savvy approach to their finances. But although people may be cutting back on luxuries, many have drawn the line at sacrificing their summer holidays – could it have anything to do with the weather I hear you cry!?
Where are the most cost-effective destinations in terms of currency? Is it cheaper to leave booking until the last minute? When is it worth paying with plastic abroad? These are some of the questions that you should consider when looking to get the best value from your holiday.
Many people will be making a change from the norm when looking on where to travel for their summer holiday this year. A recent poll found that almost half of those asked said they would be reassessing holiday plans for 2009, and close to a fifth said they would be seeking a cheaper holiday.
The following ‘money saving tips’ can be incorporated into anyone’s holiday:
Choose your destination wisely – Consider choosing a destination based on how much value you will get from your holiday pound – The euro zone has become far less attractive in recent months due to poor exchange rates, so try looking further afield.
Shop around for your travel insurance – There are savings to be made when looking to insure yourself while abroad, such as not going for a travel insurance policy that covers you for unnecessary things such as extreme sports when you plan to lie on the beach all day. At the same time it would be unwise to not declare something that could later void your policy, as this could cause serious problems and end up costing you dearly.
If you travel for than twice a year, it may be worth looking at annual cover. Also, if you use credit cards, consider looking at what’s on offer in the market, as some cards come with a range of perks including annual holiday insurance. Rachel Cutler from Tesco Travel Insurance said: “Travelling without insurance can be a costly business, and it can leave you high and dry in a medical emergency. To save money, anyone who travels more than twice a year, including weekend breaks, will be better off with an annual policy; and if you’re unlikely to venture further afield pick European cover only – you should be able to extend the territory if necessary.”
Not just Where, but When – If you’re looking at travelling to a far-away country or have already decided on your destination, then it can be better to book as far in advance as possible. If you’re not bothered about where you want to go, leaving it till the last minute can often give you a much better change of bagging the best bargain!
Every penny makes a pound – In the current climate people are likely to be wary of how much they fork out for the actual holiday in terms of travel/accommodation costs, but it can be the little things that we don’t plan for that add up. For example, research carried out by Santander Credit Cards revealed that a whopping £1 billion pounds was spent replacing essential items that holidaymakers had left at home!
It may seem obvious, but make a list well in advance of your travels as this will give you time to think about everything will need so you can avoid getting billed for being forgetful.
Keep your eye out for a bargain – carriers like Ryanair often have great sales allowing you to get away cheaper. The introduction of low-fare airlines have swayed many from sticking to UK destinations like Blackpool, to be a little more adventurous and hit the skies, and the best thing is it is likely to cost you less! Although these low cost airlines tend to fly to closer destinations around Europe, they do fly outside the euro zone too, so it’s well worth checking how the pound stands against these currencies.
School holidays – The unfortunate reality is that families with young children are generally made to pay more for taking their summer holiday during the school holidays, especially when looking to go on a package holiday. According to research by Santander Credit Cards, Brits that go on holiday abroad during this period can end up paying 40% more than the same holiday taken in mid-August. You’re unlikely to even get away from this when holidaying in the UK – while you may avoid poor exchange rates, UK resorts tend to increase rates by an average of 39% during the school holidays.
Head of Abbey Credit Cards – Callum Gibson, said: “While school holiday premiums may be inevitable, Britons heading abroad this summer can save money by cutting out unnecessary costs such as foreign exchange fees, which are charged by most providers for card transactions made in a foreign currency.”
What to be aware of when exchanging foreign currency – To begin with, there’s no such thing as ‘commission free’ so don’t be fooled by a bureau de change making such a statement. This is because they have to make their money somewhere, so is usually in the form of poor rates. The best thing to do is order your currency in advance as many companies will deliver it for free, so avoid leaving it until you get to the airport as you’ll end up paying through the teeth before you’ve even left the country!
Sam Gooch, travel money expert at Which4U.co.uk said: “One of the most important things to consider when buying foreign currency is the exchange rate you will receive. Many banks and airport bureau de exchanges’ are devious in the way they attract custom through advertising 0% commission, while disguising their fee with high exchange rates that fall well above average.”
Is cash always king? Making payments abroad – It is extremely easy and convenient to pay for goods and services by plastic, giving you peace of mind for a number of reasons. You may not want to carry too much cash around, especially when in unfamiliar surroundings, after all if you lose cash you are very unlikely to see it again.
Using a credit card can offer you protection against fraud, allowing you to get back any money lost as a result of fraud from your card company. On top of this, providers now offer a payment protection policy to cover you for all purchases made on your credit card between £100 and £30,000. This feature is provided by law, under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act, and covers you against anything bought on your card within this price range that turns out to be faulty or never gets delivered.
ET Phone Home! From the start of this month lasting until the end of August this year, Vodafone are providing a new service to allow people on the Vodafone network to make or receive calls or texts home from abroad (from specified countries) at the standard UK calling rate.
The Vodafone Passport scheme is free to join, allowing customers to benefit from calls to the UK from abroad at standard calls rates, dropping the connection fees used in the past (75p + standard rate).
Another great feature in this offer is that you can even use your inclusive minutes to makes calls on holiday. You have to join the scheme to qualify for this deal, so don’t forget to add that to your list of things to sort out before you go. The countries included are:
Albania, Andorra, Austria, Belgium, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Canary Islands, Channel Islands, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Faroes, Finland, France, Germany, Gibraltar, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Isle of Man, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Madeira, Malta, Monaco, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Ireland, Romania, San Marino, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, The Netherlands, Vatican City, New Zealand, Australia.
Travelling by train? – A popular way to travel around various countries is by train. However, this can work out very expensive, especially when moving around on a whim, as 9 times out of 10 if you choose to pay on the day you will end up paying an extortionate fare.
One way around this is to consider an InterRail ticket. These unique tickets charge a one off fee and allow you to travel between different areas of the world using your pass. Some trains may require a supplement, such as high-speed and sleeper trains.
Take the European ticket as an example. You can choose from a number of different durations to best suit your travel needs, i.e. 22 days continuous; 1 month continuous; 5 days within 10 days; 10 days within 22 days, all varying in price, and you can get a discount if you are ages 25 or under.
I mentioned above that you may want to stay away from the euro due to poor exchange rates, but this pass covers a whole range of countries, so you may wish to follow a path that avoids this currency, and with 30 countries to choose from, you really are spoilt for choice! The Global euro pass covers the following countries:
Austria, Belgium, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, FYR Macedonia, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Luxembourg, Montenegro, The Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Ireland, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey.
If you are only interested in a single country, you might wish to go for a one country pass – which entitles you to travel within your chosen country as well as extra benefits such as discounted or free shipping services and reduced admissions to museums.
Alternatively you could go for the InterRail Benelux Pass offering access to trains within Belgium, The Netherlands and Luxembourg; or the Greece Plus Pass, which includes ferry crossings from and to Italy as well as unlimited access to trains across Greece.
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