10 Money Saving Tips: Save Money Before Your Holiday

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By Cai Bradley
Updated on Thursday 12 November 2020

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With spring well underway, most people have their summer holiday booked and are now ready and waiting to get on the plane after many miserable, rainy months at home. Whether you’re moseying down to Mallorca or jetting off to Jamaica, we have the hints and tricks you need to save money on your holiday in 2020.

Becoming travel-savvy comes with experience, but you should be able to use these tips to reduce the amount of money you spend on your holiday by quite a significant amount – remember, it all adds up. Here’s our top 10 money saving travel tips, gathered to help you save on spending before you head off abroad!

Tip 1 – Use Specialist Overseas Credit and Debit Cards

Most normal cards will add a 3% charge to the exchange rates when you use them abroad, meaning that £100 worth of Euros will cost £103. To avoid this, the cheapest way to spend and withdraw money abroad is by using specialist credit or debit cards, which add no additional fees and give you a fair exchange rate.

These can take between one to three weeks to arrive, so make sure you apply for yours well in advance to help you save money when you’re on holiday. As ever with credit cards, don’t overspend and always repay in full to avoid additional interest charges!

Shops will ask whether you want to pay in pounds or Euros when you use a card, and the answer should generally be ‘no’ to paying in pounds in most circumstances. They ask this because the overseas shop or bank will be doing the conversion themselves and the rate will often be terrible, so pay in the local currency to avoid paying over-the-odds.

Tip 2 – Get the Best Holiday Cash Rates before Going

The key here is to convert your cash before you go because the conversion rates at airports are often far less generous than those available on the high-street.

There are plenty of online comparison tools available and you should be able to find the best rates in your area easily, just plan ahead and give yourself enough time to shop around, whether it’s online or in-store.

Tip 3 – Book UK Airport Parking Early

Airports make a serious amount of money from their car parks, largely due to customers failing to plan their parking beforehand.

If you park at an airport without booking in advance, you should expect a hefty bill. By booking before you arrive, regardless of whether it’s weeks in advance, or a few hours, you could save yourself a good bit of money.

There are also free airport parking comparison sites available, which could help you save up to 35% off the overall price.

Tip 4 – Get Cheap Travel Insurance

Despite rarely having to use it, you really do need travel insurance and if you do ever experience a nightmare holiday, you’ll be glad you’ve got it. It doesn’t only cover you when you’re away, but also beforehand if yourself or a family member becomes ill, or if something else happens meaning that the holiday has to be cancelled.

The tiniest of things – including having a few alcoholic drinks or leaving your luggage in the hotel storage room – could invalidate your claim totally, so always be wary of the terms and conditions.

Tip 5 – Don’t Pay for Water at the Airport

Airport prices are not far from extortionate, and bottles of water are no exception. However, many people don’t realise that you’re actually allowed to take an empty bottle or container through security.

Once you take it through security, you should be able to find a free water fountain and fill your water up to take on the flight – saving yourself at least £2-4 per person, each time you refill. While this may seem like a small amount, remember that all these small savings add up!

Tip 6 – Save Money by Showing your Boarding Pass at Airport Shops

Although you must show your boarding pass in duty-free stores, you aren’t actually obligated to show them in shops like WHSmith or Boots, but they do often ask you to.

They ask you because they can claim back the VAT you’ve paid when you’re travelling outside the EU. We don’t exactly agree with this and feel that the VAT should go back to the customer, which is now the case in some stores thanks to a campaign started by Money Saving Expert’s Martin Lewis.

For example, when you shop at WHSmith and Boots in 2020, you’ll receive the VAT on individual items over £6 and £5 respectively. Give it a go!

Tip 7 – Get an EHIC for Free

This one’s exclusively for those looking for travel tips in Europe. Firstly, check your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) is valid, as over 5,000,000 will be expiring this year. You need an EHIC if you’re going to Europe because it usefully entitles you to medical treatment as if you were a local resident.

Unofficial sites will try to charge you around £20+ to do it for you, but all you have to do is apply via the official EHIC website and you can get yours for free.

Brexit obviously leaves this up in the air at the moment, but at the time of writing, nothing has changed and you are able to continue using the current systems as normal.

Tip 8 – Check Passport Early to Avoid Premium One-Day Fees

You must check your passport well before you are set to go abroad, in case you need to apply for a new one due to damage or expiration. You’ll need to pay £75.50 for a standard adult passport in the UK, which can take up to three weeks to arrive.

If you leave it to the last minute, you risk paying over double that price for the premium one-day delivery service, which costs £177. As with EHICs, you should avoid using unofficial sites because it’s likely that you’ll either be subject to fraud or hefty additional fees.

Remember, if you’re looking to travel to countries like India, Thailand or Australia, you’ll also need to consider visas and any other requirements for that specific country.

Tip 9 – Get Sun Lotion from Pound Shops for… £1!

Sun lotion can be pretty expensive on the high-street, costing up to £25 for a 200ml bottle in some places.

However, you really don’t have to pay that much to protect your skin. Experts recently revealed that some cheap pound shop lotions were just as effective as premium brands; you simply have to check its SPF (which should be 30 or more) and UVA (which should be 4 or 5 stars), which relate to how much it protects you from the sun’s radiation.

You don’t have to splash out to get yourself a completely legitimate, safe sun lotion, with some £6-£12 products being priced at just £1 in money-saving stores!

Tip 10 – Download Free Travel Apps

Before you go, use your Wi-Fi at home (or in any free hotspot) to download some travel apps – they can help you save money and valuable time, with many offering help with public transport, the local language, and simply getting about day-to-day in an unfamiliar city.

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There’s plenty of ways that you can save money on your holiday, and as long as you prepare beforehand, you should have a fair bit of extra spending money to take with you.

If you found use in our holiday advice, you may want to take a look at the rest of our money saving resources, as well as our insurance guides!

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