For years, British holiday-makers have had it easy. We haven’t had to worry too much about budgeting because we would usually double our spending money (or near enough) in the exchange.
That’s no longer the case: Since Britain’s decision to leave the EU we don’t get much more than €1 for £1, meaning it’s more important than ever to keep costs down by any means possible.
Check through this list and ask yourself, how many of these habits can I change? Because even if you just take two or three points on-board, you could be saving hundreds of pounds.
1. I always go away in July and August. It’s summer holiday season.
There are lots of good reasons for not going in high-season. The first one is the most obvious, it’s when everyone else wants to go on holiday so simple supply and demand dictates that it’ll cost you more. Try “shoulder season” (either side of peak) and you’ll pay less for flights and accommodation. It’s likely the weather won’t change much anyway. And there’s more chance of bagging a sun lounger!
2. I get my holiday money from the Post Office or M&S.
The Post Office remains the biggest distributor of commercial foreign currency in the UK. But the fact is, it’s no longer the cheapest – or anywhere near the cheapest. We would recommend going modern and signing up for a prepaid card like WeSwap. You load the card with money and then exchange it into the currency of your choice. It’s 90% cheaper than alternatives and the nifty app means you can track your spends and top up when away. It arrives in the post and there are no laborious credit checks or anything like that.
3. We like **insert X resort here** and go there every year without fail.
You might get lucky and find that your favourite place is super affordable and great value as ever. But you might not. The point is, if you start the process by selecting your destination and then colouring in the dots, you’re setting yourself up for an expensive trip because you’ll pay whatever in flights and accommodation just to get there.
Instead, use SkyScannner’s “Everywhere” functionality and select your destination based on where you can fly to for cheap. A bit of spontaneity never hurt anyone.
4. We must eat out every night, we’re on holiday.
Of course, when you’re on holiday it’s nice to treat yourself and go to a fancy restaurant or two. If nothing else, it means you don’t have to do the washing up! But if you go for accommodation with cooking facilities, there’s a lot to be said for staying at home and getting your chef on.
Localise the experience by cooking a dish famous in the area. It’ll mean that the produce is fresh and cheap from the local market. You’ll probably get more out of it than just some saved pennies too.
5. Unless the plane needs to stop for petrol, I’m flying direct.
Consider this hypothetical situation: You’re in the airport and someone from an airline approaches you before your flights and says: “I’ll pay you £150 to miss this flight and grab one in an hour”. What would you do? Sometimes bagging an indirect flight with a small transfer means big savings. If that’s the case then consider the above. It’s not like you’re incarcerated in some lonely room. Just go for a drink or chill out for an hour whilst counting your saved money.
6. We always hire a car. It gives us flexibility.
Two points here: firstly, it’s worth doing your research. It might be that you don’t need a car at all – even resorts have busses around!
Secondly, if you do decide you need a vehicle then wait until the last minute. The best thing is, if they’re busy and running low on cars, they’ll often give you a free upgrade.
Final point, don’t book in advance and from the airport. You’re trapped in and will pay more.
7. I use my debit card abroad now, it’s just convenient.
It’s true, the convenience can’t be denied. Your debit card already lives in your wallet after all. But using your UK debit card can end up being super-expensive. Let’s take a Halifax debit card, for example. They would charge you £1.50 for each point-of-sale transaction and/or £1.50 for every ATM withdrawal. On top of that, a 2.75% conversion charge is added to an already bad exchange rate. It gets confusing. It gets costly. A bank statement littered with fees doesn’t help allay the post-holiday blues. Again, there is a way to avoid all that.
8. I always fly from **insert airport here** it’s only 5 minutes away in a cab.
Now this one counts from at departure and arrival stage. Be open to the idea of travelling from Stanstead even though you live a 10-minute cab ride from Luton but also, think about where you’re flying into. Going to LA? You don’t need to go to LAX, flights tend to be cheaper to Oakland. Sometimes it’s cheaper to fly into a completely different city and travel. Flights to Amsterdam are killer? Then fly to Rotterdam and get the train.
9. I’d never go all inclusive.
A bit like cruises, all-inclusive holidays seem to polarise opinion. But rather than turn your nose up at them, consider this. If you’d booked an all-inclusive before Brexit, you wouldn’t have been affected by the tumbling pound. You pay a nice round price and that’s not going to change regardless of fluctuation in the pound sterling. The benefit of knowing where you stand shouldn’t be underestimated.
10. I don’t use my phone abroad, it’s too expensive.
In the age of the smartphone, not using apps abroad is a mistake that could make all the difference to the amount you’re spending. Make sure you check your personal phone plan but all the big phone networks now offer reasonable international packages in the EU.
For an extra £1 or £2 a day you can use your UK minutes and data on the continent. When there use Uber, Trip Advisor, Google Translate and many more to avoid getting ripped off.