Before you book
Set a budget and start saving
The obvious one: know how much you want to spend and start putting money away as early as possible.
Planning ahead makes the whole thing more manageable and you'll avoid leaving yourself short of money closer to your trip. Put it in a savings account that earns you interest and you'll see your holiday fund grow (plus it'll also be hidden away from temptation!)
Take advantage of rewards credit cards
If you're eligible and can afford to pay off your balance each month, a credit card offering rewards points on your everyday spend could even pay for part of your holiday.
For example, rewards cards might offer cashback or travel points. You could then use these towards the cost of flights or holidays, leaving you with more money to spend on the important stuff.
Do the planning yourself
Everyone knows travel agents are the middle man, right? Cutting them out means you cut the commission and the extra fees associated with their operating costs. There are hotel comparison sites that compare hotel and hotel booking sites to find you a range of hotels at the best price.
And when it comes to booking flights, search engines scour the market for the best deals to your destination. Did you know that Tuesdays and Wednesdays are typically the cheapest days to fly, with Fridays and Saturdays being the most expensive?
Always check out the package travel deals too, though. If you're travelling as a family then it could well work out cheaper to go all-inclusive, where meals, drinks, snacks, kids' clubs and airport transfers are paid up front.
Before you go
How are you getting to the airport?
If you've got a long drive to the airport and a flight at an ungodly hour, how about an airport hotel? Parking paired with a night's stay can sometimes cost around £20 more** than parking on its own.
Many airport hotels have their own car park where you can leave your vehicle for the duration of your trip. Again, try a booking comparison site to help you sniff out a good deal. 'Mystery' or 'unknown hotel' with parking packages can offer great value if you're happy to take a risk.
Order a pre-paid currency card
It's usually one of the last things you might do before jumping onto the plane: grabbing your travel money. But this last little step during your path to take-off can be a costly one with exchange rates at a premium. That's why a pre-paid currency card could be a good option - and for a number of reasons:
- You lock in an exchange rate when you load the card - this can either be a good thing or a bad thing
- Some cards allow you to use the card to spend leftover cash in the UK without fees
- No overseas cash withdrawal and transaction fees (depending on the provider)
- If you lose the card your money's not lost because you can get a replacement card
Do you already have travel insurance?
Check your current account or credit card accounts to see if you get any perks like holiday insurance included. If you have, do double-check the policy to make sure you're adequately covered for your party and for your trip. You may be able to contact the insurance provider and extend the type of cover you have for a fee; for example, for sports activities.
While you're there
Get a local sim card
Who wants to come home to a hefty phone bill after their holiday? Instead of racking up expensive call, text and data charges while you're away, buying a local SIM card or picking up an international SIM card for your phone could save you hundreds. What's more, because it's pay-as-you-go you'll be in control of how much you spend.
Know your card conversion rate
If you use your debit or credit card to buy something when abroad you might be asked whether you want to use the local currency or convert to British pounds. Dynamic currency conversion allows retailers to charge you in pounds but they use their own conversion rate, which could be higher than your card issuer's. If you go with your card issuer's rate, you might be charged a non-sterling transaction fee so check out the charges before you travel.
Find your own way around
If you're looking to experience the local culture on holiday, embark on your own adventure. Do some research before you go away and make a list of places you'd like to visit, then search for mobile apps with maps, route planning and voice prompts that don't use data. You'll avoid the embarrassment of trying to ask for directions using your limited foreign vocab, plus you might stumble across some hidden treasures that you wouldn't see during the often costly tourist excursions.
*Source: BDRC Continental 2014
**Source: HolidayExtras.com - based on a week's parking at the Gatwick Official Long Stay car park compared to a night's stay and a week's parking at the Gatwick Russ Hill hotel in November 2015.