Your holiday spending money won’t go as far in popular holiday destinations like the Med and the USA this year due to the pound sinking against the euro, the dollar and some other currencies, but don’t worry because here are some tips to save you money on your next trip:
Check out deal websites like Secret Escapes
Sign up to sites like Secret Escapes, TravelZoo and Groupon and you never know what super
discounted deals might ping into your inbox one day. If you aren’t fussy where you go and you’re happy to book at the last minute, you could pick up a fantastic bargain.
Some of the offers are available several months in advance, but you have to book fast because they are generally only on these sites for a few days – and sometimes only a few hours.
Secret Escapes has some great deals on luxury holidays, including UK breaks. They say they are able to offer holidays at up to 60% off. For the next 9 hours they have a Kenya safari with a discount of 43%, which looks amazing! My sister and her daughter even managed to get a cut-price holiday to Italy last July during the school summer break.
TravelZoo has similar deals, but tends to focus on more mainstream holiday and it has more UK breaks, days out and local restaurant offers.
Groupon is also great for saving money on restaurants and activities. I used it to save money on a pool day with lunch at a five-star hotel in Dubai.
All you have to do is sign up to these deals sites with your email and wait for the offers to roll in. Just make sure if you’re booking an overseas holiday with flights that it’s ATOL protected so you’ll get your money back if the firm goes bust.
Use a flight comparison website, like Skyscanner
Don’t just assume that no-frills airlines like easyJet and Ryanair will always offer the cheapest flights – sometimes the full service airlines like British Airways have the lowest fares, especially if you are booking close to the date of departure, so use a website like Skyscanner that trawls through most of the airline websites to look for the best deals as well as checking out fares listed on the airlines’ websites.
Don’t forget it’s sometimes cheaper to mix and match airlines, so you might fly out with easyJet but back on British Airways, and sometimes it’s cheaper to get a flight home from a different airport to the one you flew into.
You can occasionally save money by flying into a different country, for example, if you’re going to Austria, it might be cheaper to fly into Bratislava in Slovakia and travel over the border.
You might also save money by taking a charter flight, such as with Jet2.com, Thomas Cook Airlines or TUI. These might not come up on flight comparison websites so you’ll need to check their websites for the latest deals.
Contact hotels direct for the best prices
Sites like Booking.com are great for giving you a range of hotels and apartments to choose from, and now Booking.com also offers private holiday homes – but comparison sites like these aren’t usually the cheapest option for overseas accommodation.
I’ve often found that I can get a cheaper rate by calling or emailing a hotel direct and asking them for the best rate they can offer. Sometimes the hotel will throw in extras too, such as a room upgrade or late check out. It’s certainly worth asking before you book.
Remember though to check any restrictions on the deal you’re offered by the hotel, such as whether they charge for cancellations. If you’re unsure of your travel plans and the hotel charges a cancellation fee, it might be better to book with a site like booking.com and pay slightly more for the option to cancel with a full refund if necessary.
Use a car rental comparison site
Car hire in foreign countries can be eye-wateringly expensive – if you use well-known international firms like Avis, Europcar and Hertz. However, if you use a local firm it can be surprisingly affordable. So how do you find a reputable car hire company in, say Spain, and not get ripped off? You use a rental comparison site, such as Holiday Autos, which I’ve always found to have the best rates.
I just managed to stop my husband from paying over £500 for a week’s car hire in Italy in August with Europcar and instead found him a deal with Holiday Autos for £250, for the SAME CAR!
I’ve never had any problems with the cars I’ve hired via Holiday Autos, except one of their partners in Italy tried to charge me extra because when I arrived they only had a diesel car available (I refused to pay, they backed down), and once I had quite a long wait at the rental desk at the airport because they were closed for lunch when I arrived.
However, if you hire a car from your airline’s car rental partner you’re likely to have a much longer wait as hundreds of people on your flight will have done the same thing, so unless you’re first at the car hire desk you could be waiting in a very long line.
To save even more money, avoid paying for extras such as baby seats and Sat Navs by taking yours with you. Most airlines will allow you to take a car seat onboard. I always use Google Maps on my iPhone instead of a Sat Nav since mine was stolen from my car (in the UK), but if I still had it I would take it with me because there’s often a delay on Google Maps, which can lead to you getting lost.
Never ever buy your car rental company’s CDW or excess insurance
Hire cars are usually insured, but as with regular car insurance, there’ll be an excess to pay if you damage the car and in some cases this can amount to several thousand pounds. Obviously you don’t want to risk ending up with a huge bill, so you should take out Collision Damage Waiver or Excess Insurance to cover this additional cost, but you’ll make a big saving if you buy this from a specialist insurer rather than directly from the car rental company.
I always use icarhireinsurance. com, which I’ve found is much cheaper than other insurers and charges only a fraction of the amount charged by car hire firms.
Note, however, that third party insurers won’t provide CDW or excess insurance for young drivers (under 21), so you will need to buy this directly from the car rental company.
Shop around for travel insurance
You can make big savings on travel insurance, especially for families, if you’re prepared to shop around. Check out comparison sites like Confused.com and Comparethemarket. If you plan to take more than two trips a year, it could work out cheaper to buy an annual, multi-trip policy.
I’ve taken out travel insurance with Columbus for several years because they offer a good deal for families with older children. For instance, it covers children whilst they’re at university, even when they’re travelling without you. Another bonus is that you get free access to airport lounges if your flight is delayed for more than two hours – although I’ve never had to use this!
Insurance policies sold by travel agents tend to be very expensive so I would buy online instead, but make sure you’re getting adequate cover. Also, buy it as soon as you book your holiday so the cancellation cover kicks in. If you’re travelling within the EU you should be able to get a cheaper premium so long as you have a valid EHIC, which entitles you to free treatment in public hospitals.
Buy airport parking ASAP
Parking at UK airports is very expensive if you just rock up without a booking, so secure your place online as soon as you book your holiday. Shop around for the best deals on site like Holiday Extras.
Off-airport car parks are cheaper than on-site car parks, but you’ll need to take a transfer bus to the terminal, sometimes the journey can take 15 minutes or more and you might have to wait a while for one to come, so these can be a lot of hassle.
Oddly, it can sometimes work out cheaper to stay at an airport hotel the night before your flight because some offer free parking while you’re away. Again, you can find some of the best deals on sites like Holiday Extras.
When my children were small, or when we were going skiing, I preferred to use meet-and-greet airport parking, which allows you to drive straight up to the terminal and hand the keys over to someone else who will park your car for you and bring it back to the terminal when you land. This costs more than standard parking but it’s a little luxury I don’t mind paying extra for. Just be careful which company you use though as some drivers have had problems with vehicles damaged or stolen.
I always used to forget to buy my holiday money so ended up kicking myself when I got a rubbish rate at the airport or hotel – which are the two very worst places in the world to swap currency. Now I never need to bother because I have a pre-paid currency card which I just top up from an app on my phone as and when I need more cash, and it gives me a market-beating exchange rate on all major currencies. Yep, I’m pretty smug about it.
I use Revolut because not only does it give the best available rates when you shop abroad, but it also allows you to pre-purchase your currency and store it on your card, which is useful if you want to lock into an exchange rate, say when the pound is sliding. My daughter, on the other hand, uses Monzo because, unlike Revolut, it pays interest (albeit at only a little over 1%) on money stored on the card. Also, as Monzo is a bank, your money is protected if it goes bust.
It’s easy to apply for a pre-paid currency card. Here’s a link for a free one from Revolut.
If you prefer to take cash, check online to find out which foreign exchange bureau is offering the best rates. Don’t just go to the one you used last time because the rates the bureau offer change rapidly, so although it might have offered the best deal last time you went away, it might be offering the worst deal this week.
You’ll usually find the best deals online, but this isn’t necessarily the case. The safest option is to pre-order online to pick up at a local bureau de change. Remember that bureau that offer no commission, like the Post Office, often have the worst rates, so these aren’t necessarily the best option, unless you’re changing only a small amount of money.
If you plan to use a credit card abroad instead, you should find one that doesn’t charge you to convert the foreign currency into pounds, like Halifax Clarity, otherwise you could end up paying a surcharge of around 2% every time you spend on your card. Using a debit card abroad can also work out expensive as your bank will add the surcharge, again around 2 to 3%, and it will charge you to withdraw cash in a foreign currency. Starling, on the other hand, doesn’t charge you to use your debit card abroad.
Have you got any clever ways to save money on holiday? Please get in touch, sharing is caring x