Don’t set off on holiday this summer before you’ve read our top 5 travel money tips. Follow these and your annual break could end up costing less than you planned for.
Holidays are there for you to get away from the stresses and strains of daily life – and with rising prices, stagnant wages and squeezed budgets, a little time away might be just what the doctor ordered.
The only problem, of course, is that more and more of us are finding it hard to include a good holiday in our budgets – and those of used to taking several breaks each year are cutting back too.
But with careful budgeting and a bit of resourcefulness, it’s quite possible to bring the costs of our holidays down, making them that bit more affordable and enjoyable.
That’s why we’ve put together our 5 top tips to help you save money when you travel – and make sure your money isn’t lost forever if your holiday, hotels or flights are cancelled.
1. Choose an ATOL-protected holiday
There’s no ideal time for a holiday firm to go bust, but the middle of summer must be the cruellest.
But it happens. This week, tour operator Holidays 4 U went into administration, with 13,000 of its holidaymakers still broad.
Luckily, all of these people should be able to get home safely thanks to the Civil Aviation Authority’s ATOL (Air Travel Organiser’s Licensing) protection scheme.
Under the scheme, the CAA guarantees travel for people who have been affected by the collapse of a holiday company.
This can save you a lot of money in new airline fares if the worst happens – and if you haven’t taken your holiday yet, you may be able to claim a refund via your credit card company or the CAA itself.
But how else can your protect your holiday investment? That brings us to our next tip…
2. Get the right travel insurance for your needs
Did you know that travel insurance can compensate you if your holiday or flight is cancelled – or even if you miss your flight due to an unforeseen event at home?
Travel insurance can do that and much more, so it’s a good idea to compare what different policies can offer you. Some are remarkably economical and give you peace of mind for very little money.
When you choose your cover, also be sure to check the limits on your policy for luggage and valuables and any exceptions and excesses that apply in the event of a claim.
3. Bring along a prepaid currency card
One of the best ways to save is on your holiday travel money – it always pays to plan ahead in this area.
According to a recent report, Britons are charged £457 million annually in overseas credit card charges they aren’t aware of – until they receive the bill.
These can include up to 10% in foreign exchange charges, around 3% in commission and additional fees for withdrawing money from cashpoints whenever they use a credit card.
Not only will you save money on your foreign exchange, using prepaid cards from companies like these means you can avoid additional fees for ATM withdrawals or purchases.
Best of all, prepaid currency cards are a much safer way to carry your holiday travel money. If you lose cash, it’s gone – but you can cancel a currency card and get your balance repaid.
4. Use a currency exchange broker
If you’re going abroad for a holiday and you’ll be needing £300, £500 or more in holiday travel money, then you are likely to make significant savings by using a currency exchange broker.
Another recent survey found UK travellers buying foreign currency at train stations and airports are spending £22 million more every year than if they had bought their currency in advance.
And where a bank is likely to take 2% commission on the transaction and charge a fee, an online currency broker like TorFX or CaxtonFX can beat high street rates by as much as 5%.
So if you’re new to currency exchange brokers, now is certainly a good time to familiarise yourself with the deals on offer.
But it’s not just foreign currency that’s cheaper online…
5. Check out online deals
From flights and hotels to travel insurance, the chances are you’ll be able to find a better deal online – and it’s not just because many companies offer online discounts.
These days, there are thousands of companies that operate only on the web, which means you really have to get on online if you want access to the whole range of deals.
From hotels to airline tickets, holiday clothes and more, you can save pounds online, which you can then use to supplement your holiday travel money.
And it’s never been easier to find the best deals – you can use price comparison sites to find the cheapest flights and package holidays.
Best of all, if you’re unsure about an operator or company, you can search for reviews submitted by other users online – poor service rarely goes unremarked!
So, these are our five top tips for saving cash and supplementing your holiday travel money – while making sure your holiday investment is protected. If you have valuable tips too, be sure to share them.