For some, planning a holiday can be a stressful experience. However if you do take the time, and do your research, you really could reap some financial rewards.
The most important influence on the cost of your holiday is probably where you go. Countries like Spain and France are the most popular destinations for British holiday makers looking to get away from it all, according to the recent ONS Travel Trends survey.
However, you could potentially make significant savings by looking outside the eurozone. Not only could it make your travel money go further, but you’ll also be able to enjoy unspoilt, sandy beaches, authentic restaurants and some great cultural hotspots too.
Perhaps you always go to the same Greek island, or you love to visit the historical cities of Tuscany in Italy. But if you’re prepared to think creatively, you could switch Greece for Croatia, which has islands just as gorgeous and fishing villages just as pretty; Spain for Bulgaria’s Black Sea coast with its beautiful beaches, wooded countryside and mineral springs; the Canary Islands for Morocco, which is thought to be just as good a windsurfing destination but with far cheaper hire charges – and a beautiful, ancient port and souks for added atmosphere.
Once you’ve decided where you’re going, there are plenty of other ways to help you save some money:
1. Shop around in advance for the best currency deals
You could be surprised at how much you can save by just doing your research. Look online for the best rates and take advantage of free delivery at home or in store; avoid paying delivery charges twice by combining your travel money with friends, and keep your eye on the market, as rates fluctuate constantly. Be a smart shopper – keep an eye on which way the rates are going and act fast. Some credit cards also offer commission-free travel money, so it’s worth looking out for those.
2. Once you are there, keep a close eye on your costs
It’s tempting to take a gondola in Venice, but a vaporetto will get you to the Piazza san Marco for a fraction of the cost. Whilst on holiday, check where the locals are eating and you’ll be sure of a good value meal. Hiring a car could be fun, but it could also end up costing you more than you can afford, so take the bus to the beach. Shop for delicious produce at the local markets – and pack a picnic.
3. Using your card? Keep withdrawals to a minimum
Some cards offer free withdrawals and free purchases abroad. But if you don’t have one of these, keep your withdrawals to a minimum to cut down on charges. Britons abroad withdraw £14.2 billion every year from overseas ATMs on credit and debit cards, costing holidaymakers £391 million collectively in withdrawal fees.(1) You could also choose to buy a cash passport before leaving, which safeguards your money, locks in the exchange rate, and can be topped up while you are away.
4. Make sure you are covered by travel insurance
Having the right level of travel insurance could prove invaluable. Although many of us don’t anticipate having an accident or falling ill on holiday, recent research shows that the average medical claim made by Britons who do fall ill or have an accident in a foreign country now stands at a staggering £1,333.41.(2)
So it really does pay to be covered. Taking a European Health Insurance (EHIC) Card is useful, as this should allow you to access local state-provided healthcare in the EU and Switzerland either free or at a reduced rate. Though it is important to check exactly which countries the card covers you for – as ‘Europe’ may only mean European Community members, which will exclude Turkey, for example. Also remember that it’s not an alternative to proper travel insurance, and won’t repatriate you should you need to be flown home early.
5. Take care if planning to use your mobile phone to call home
Check what the call charges will be with your phone provider before leaving; it may be possible to add a booster which will substantially cut the costs of texts and calls either from fellow members of your holiday party or (in emergencies) to and from the UK. And now that so many people have smartphones, call charges aren’t the only problem – it can cost a fortune to receive and send emails. Use an internet café instead. And either switch off your email function or switch your sim card into another phone for the trip. Chances are you’ll find that your battery will last far longer, too.
6. Finally, shop locally
There’s nothing wrong with having a browse through the shops. But you’re more likely to find something striking and original if you visit local art and flea markets – and it could cost you far less too. And if you have packed light, you will be able to squeeze in a few little gifts on the way home. Just think how pleased your family will be to see you.
(1) Research carried out by ICM on behalf of Sainsbury’s Travel Money, July 2011
(2) Analysis of 2010 claims data by Sainsbury’s Travel Insurance, August 2011
Available at www.sainsburysfinance.co.uk/media
Issued by Sainsbury’s Finance