So you’ve booked the flights, accommodation is sorted and a new wardrobe of travel clothes is good to go. You might be feeling a bit guilty about all the splashing out you’ve done before you’ve even landed at your holiday destination but don’t worry: with a little planning, there’s no reason why you can’t make your holiday money go that little bit further.
Many people find thinking about their holiday budgets somewhat daunting but common sense and insider’s knowledge go a long way to helping you return home without any major financial worries.
Here are 10 tips for saving money which could help you avoid over-spending on your holidays:
1. Calculate the overall cost
Before booking, it’s a good idea to look at the overall cost of the holiday and the so-called luxuries that may or may not be included. For example, self-catering options sometimes look like great value but don’t forget add on the costs of food and entertainment, which can often total more than the holiday itself, particularly if you are in a Eurozone country.
All-inclusive is an option which many people veer towards. This type of holiday enables you to indulge in as much food and drink as you want, which is often a good family option. What’s more, an all-inclusive holiday does not necessarily cost much more than a half-board price, but it does restrict when and where you can eat.
2. Book everything early
Experts generally recommend that you plan your trip and your daily activities well in advance. Not only will this give you something to look forward to, it could save you money. Scour the latest travel offers carefully and, of course, be sure to be certain of what’s included in the price.
Often the earlier you book your airfares and accommodation, the easier it will be to find the best deals. In general, the best holiday prices come when you book at least three weeks prior to departure. Flying on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and in low season often costs less than on Fridays, weekends, bank holidays and peak season. Equally, flying in the middle of the night or during the early hours is often more economical than daytime flying. Meanwhile, last minute deals do sometimes exist but you risk them not cropping up, let alone in a place you dream of going.
In terms of day excursions, look at the costs involved in visiting things like water parks and theme parks which can add up once you get there – perhaps have a look and see if you can buy tickets in advance for a lower price than at the door. Companies like Attractions Direct enable you to buy tickets before your travel.
Airport car parking should also be booked early. If you need to leave your car at the airport while you’re on holiday, be sure to book well in advance as doing so on the day is normally far more expensive.
3. Check what’s included
Look at what exactly is included in your holiday package, namely what food, drinks, connections and other facilities are available in the resort and how well they cater for your needs. Think ahead about what sort of excursions and activities you might want to partake in and if necessary book them as early as possible.
4. Budget for excursions
Sticking to a daily budget can really help keep spending in check on your holidays. While tickets to a water park or theme park may seem affordable as a one-off expense, if you do similarly priced things every day, you could end up spending far more than you think.
5. Beat baggage fees
Avoid checking in a suitcase if this comes as an extra cost and bring hand luggage instead. You might be able to wear what does not fit and, with a little careful packing, you’ll be surprised how much you can a cabin luggage bag can hold. If all else fails, fill your pockets too!
Excess baggage costs can significantly add to the price of your flight so be careful when taking that extra pair of shoes or purchasing those must-have souvenirs that won’t fit into your luggage. Weighing your luggage before you leave is also important – if your luggage is overweight, you may well land yourself with an unexpected excess luggage bill.
6. Use public transport
Connections from the airport are not always included in your holiday’s price but avoiding taxis will often mean great savings. If you pack light, you can save money by taking public transport without any hassle or expense. Many cities have free or low-cost options as well as passes to allow unlimited travel. Others offer low-cost shuttle services running from the airport. Your hotel may even have a shuttle service so it pays to find out in advance what transport is available.
7. Get your currency before you travel and use a pre-paid cash card
If possible, pre-order your foreign currency before you arrive at the airport to ensure you get the best rate you can.
Bear in mind too that certain debit cards are better to use abroad than others so it’s well worth finding out the charges you will be subjected to beforehand. As new cards keep appearing and rates are subject to constant change, be sure to do your research before opting for a new debit card.
Consider using a prepaid card with money for your holiday expenses. The card looks like any normal credit or debit card but unlike credit/debit cards, which provide you with a line of credit, pre-paid cash cards ensure you don’t go overdrawn or overspend.
8. Manage your mobile
You probably can’t do without your mobile phone or other internet devices on holiday. But when travelling, it’s important to know how best to use them without incurring unnecessary, often extortionate roaming charges.
Check your roaming fees with your supplier before going abroad and make sure you know how to turn it off – it may be worth investing in a roaming bundle.
9. Look out for coupons and special deals
Look for discounts wherever you are visiting. These exist in the form of city-specific deals, but you may also find other coupons at your hotel. They may also provide information about special offers in town. Failing this, ask at the Tourist Office for any special deals available.
10. Eat like the locals
Part of the joy of travelling is tasting the local cuisine. You’re likely to eat better and save money by eating where the locals do; what’s more, you will get a good idea of what real life is like in the country you are visiting. Another top tip is to stock up from the hotel buffet breakfast and shop in local supermarkets for picnic lunches.