- Enjoy your holiday without worrying about your wallet with our useful hints and tips
- Pre-holiday research can save significant cash
- Buy travel insurance to avoid costly medical bills should you be unwell abroad
If you are one of the lucky people who booked their summer holiday in the last few months, it probably means that you haven’t even thought about your actual budget once you go away.
To avoid over-spending when you go on your much-anticipated holiday, we’ve put together some tips on how to stick to your budget - and even return home with some leftover cash.
Before you go
Research potential expenses
It’s easier than ever to work out what your holiday expenditure is likely to be thanks to guidebooks and doing some online research of the areas you will be visiting. Many reputable guidebooks and travel information websites will carry useful information about typical costs for things like food and drink at your destination, while there are online tools to help you automatically work out your budget, like this calculator from Thomas Cook.
Buy foreign currency well in advance
It’s all very well feeling smug about saving up for your holiday spending money, but it’s not you who’ll have the last laugh if you then decide to buy your foreign currency at the airport just before you get on the plane.
Airports tend to have the worst exchange rates, meaning that you get less for your money than you would likely have got had you bought your euros or dollars further in advance.
Look around at exchange bureaus for the best exchange rate, and some offer better rates to buy back currency should you bring any back.
Don’t forget your travel insurance
It’s easy to think that you’ll never need to make a travel insurance claim, so you don’t need to take out a policy. And in truth, it is rare any of us actually need to make a claim.
But anything can happen on your holiday, and if you fall ill or are injured you will likely need medical care while you’re abroad, which can cost thousands of pounds if you don’t have the right cover.
The relatively low cost of a travel insurance policy could save you significantly more money on your next trip – especially if you are going to enjoy some skiing or winter sports.
Look into specialist credit cards
Some credit cards offer especially good rates when used abroad, meaning they can be more cost-effective than using your usual credit card (and especially your debit card) whilst overseas. If you’d rather not rely on a credit card, prepaid cards loaded up with your holiday money can be a great alternative, and offer all the more incentive to stick to your budget as you’ll need to top up the card again if you run out of funds.
Just be aware that these prepaid cards convert the currency at the rate that’s in effect on the day you load it up, which may mean you lose out if the rate becomes more unfavourable during your trip.
On the journey
Turn off data roaming on your phone
Most of us have smartphones these days, which means they’re likely to have apps that automatically download data from the internet when, for example, an email comes through.
These downloads can add up when it comes to taking your phone abroad due to the roaming costs that most mobile networks charge, so play it safe and turn off the option for overseas roaming before you get to your destination - otherwise you might end up with a bill that far exceeds your holiday budget!
If you need to use travel-related apps while you’re on holiday, look for ones that can be used offline.
At your destination
Avoid eating out for every meal
If you’re in self-catered accommodation, you don’t necessarily need to head to a cafe or restaurant every time you want to eat. If you fall into this trap, the cost will soon add up, especially when you factor in that dessert you thought you’d spontaneously treat yourself to and the extra large tip for the particularly good service.
Instead, find a shop or supermarket selling food that you can quickly assemble into a meal every now and then, or to take lunch with you during your sightseeing days out or trips to the beach. Paris, for example, has no shortage of fantastic bakeries and fromageries selling bread and cheese that will make just as good a lunch as a panini at a pavement cafe, but for a fraction of the cost.
Don’t pay in sterling in a foreign country
You might be asked whether you wish to pay for goods or meals in British pounds or the local currency. Choose pounds and you might well end up paying much more than you bargained for thanks to ‘tweaks’ made to the exchange rate by the retailer or proprietor.
Regularly check your balance
It’s a wise idea to keep a check on how much money you have left every time you make a purchase while on holiday, whether this means counting the cash in your wallet or looking at your bank or credit card balance.
Being constantly aware of how much you have left to spend will do much to help you make the right decision when weighing up whether to buy that expensive souvenir or not.