The average cost of a family holiday somewhere in Europe can often hover around the £2,000 mark. So if you’re watching your family spending, what are the best ways to cut costs?
Apart from choosing a more economic destination, here are some more “behind the scenes” ways to save so you’ll have more to spend on souvenirs to bring back!
Don’t change your money into foreign currency at the airport
Use a comparison site to see which bureaux de change are offering the best rates and beware that when someone says “commission free” it often means they’ll up the exchange rate so it may be commission free but you won’t benefit.
Think ahead and book your exchange rate with one of the bureaus that delivers money to your door if you’re short on time.
Debit or credit? (when you get there)
The answer’s credit card. Use a credit card that charges nothing when you withdraw from an overseas ATM. Debit cards charge a fee, either a percentage or set fee per withdrawal.
Just ensure you’ll be paying off the balance when your next credit card statement comes in.
Travel and Health Insurance
If you’re on a short trip to somewhere close by, such as a romantic weekend in Paris or a shopping trip to Milan, you can sidestep paying for health insurance and just make sure you’ve packed your EHIC card. They’re free to apply for and they cover you for medical costs (but they won’t pay for any repatriation or emergency flights home). Also check your home insurance, it might even pay for stolen personal items on your short break abroad.
Still, if you would feel better taking out travel insurance, use a comparison site first but check the Ts & Cs. Will you be taking part in adventure sports? Are you over 65? Various factors come into play so you’ll need a bit of time to sort the wheat from the chaff until you find the right policy for you.
Bank insurance deals are pricey, though if you are over 65, the Nationwide Flex account includes free cover for travel until you are 73.
You can also try ehicplus.com, which “fills the gaps” the EHIC card coverage doesn’t. It’s not expensive and there’s no age limit either.
The big one: Cheap Flights
Frequent flyers know the tricks. One is to fly on a Tuesday, as fares are normally a third cheaper than a Friday. If you have to return on a Sunday (one of the busiest times at airports) it’ll cost you extra, so if you can return on the Monday or better still Tuesday, great.
As we already know, budget airlines are cheapest two or three months in advance with the fares rising gradually the closer the take-off date approaches.
Timeshare owners have an advantage here – because they tend to lock in their holidays further ahead than most holidaymakers, they’ll benefit from lower airfares.
A good flight comparison site is skyscanner.com and as a general rule, Ryanair and easyJet are usually among the cheapest options. If you hate flying and are travelling by train seat61.com is the site to look at.
If you have a favourite airline, it’s always good to sign up for their updates, you’ll be among the first to learn about new routes and special offers so you can get the best deal going.
You’ve chosen the timeshare resort, you’ve booked the flights, you’ve deal with the insurace side of things…probably the last thing you feel like doing after that is choosing the best deal on car hire.
Car rental sites can be confusing, with hidden costs and terms and conditions but there are some basic rules worth following. Always book your car hire in advance. Don’t purchase the excess. And always take photos or a video of the car when you pick it up so that when you return it they can’t blame that (pre-existing passenger door dent) on your driving!
Don’t forget to turn off data roaming…
Before you go abroad, always turn off data roaming – unless you like shocks – and if your mobile does get stolen you’ll need to report it immediately. Some of the worst financial holiday nightmares involve stolen mobiles, with thieves racking up extortionate phone costs, all of which will be billed to you back home (unless of course you’re on pay as you go!)