The prospect of some summer sun in a hot country is what gets most of us through the 9-5 office lifestyle we now find ourselves in. With UK summers becoming increasingly damp, winters getting colder and a gloomy economic climate, that annual holiday – and a chance to top up our flagging Vitamin D levels – has never been more important.
To help you get the most from your money and increase your holiday spends (meaning you can afford that all important straw hat and the obligatory sweets for your work colleagues) I’ve come up with some top tips to make your money go that little bit further and reduce the impact on your wallet:
EHIC (European Health Insurance Card)
If you have a national insurance number then you’re entitled to a free European Health Insurance Card. This entitles you to free or discounted treatment in EU member countries and Switzerland. In most cases, this is the first thing that will be asked for should you require treatment and it could save you a fortune in the long run.
It’s easy to forgo purchasing travel insurance in a bid to save money but this is a false economy. Without it, should something go amiss, you could find yourself footing the bill for medical treatment or to replace your possessions should they be stolen or if your luggage is misplaced.
Travel insurance is also important in non-EU countries where medical bills could be financially crippling.
To save yourself some money in the process, make use of a comparison website such as MoneySupermarket.com to help you compare a large number of policies in one go. If you are travelling as a family or a couple, look for policies intended for these groups (kids are sometimes included for free), or, if you are lucky enough to travel several times a year, purchase an annual or multi-trip policy. These policies are usually much more cost effective and will not eat into your valuable holiday spends as much.
Book in advance vs. late availability
It’s usually best practice to leave it till the last minute for holiday bargains, but you won’t always get the best accommodation and it means leaving it to chance. If you don’t mind where you go, and can be flexible with the dates you travel on, then this is probably a good option.
However, if you book in advance you’ll sometimes be able to take advantage of early bird rates and, in the case of a cruise, may receive free upgrades – or onboard credit – closer to the date you travel on (tour operators can fill cheaper rooms more easily).
For a long time all-inclusive holidays have brought to mind, all-you-can-eat buffets and being roped into “fun” activities. You can find plenty of all-inclusive hotels these days who offer a more formal sit down dining experience as well as the buffet option and, by choosing an adults only hotel, you should find that it’s a more refined experience.
If you couple booking all-inclusive with waiting till the last minute, you should be able to grab yourself a bargain and you won’t have to worry about finding the money to pay for food whilst you’re on holiday.
Travel on a weekday
Most people opt for weekend flights (Saturday is one of the busiest days in airports) so by opting for a flight in the week you’ll find that the airport is much quieter. If you can be flexible with your days off, you should also be able to save some money by opting for flights in the week or at unsociable hours.
Opt for a staycation
If you’re on a tight budget and need a break away but can’t quite afford a trip overseas, why not opt for a staycation. All the rage since the recession, spending time exploring the UK can be quite a fun experience and needn’t cost the earth; if you don’t mind camping or searching for cheap bed and breakfasts (which we have plenty of).
New schemes such as that offered by http://www.bedandfed.co.uk/ mean that UK homeowners can offer up their spare rooms and hospitality to those looking for bargain accommodation.