Image by Martina Rathgens, Italy
In a previous article we looked at travel insurance and just how few people actually bother to make sure they're covered when travelling overseas. But there is other financial planning that goes into a trip, like buying travel money, deciding which plastic it's best to take and finding discounts on holidays and flights. How do you make sure you get the best deals all round? Well, here are our top tips for a financially savvy break.
Find the best deal on flights
A great place to start is Skyscanner.net, which scans the websites of all the main travel companies to show you what's available online at any point in time. Skyscanner covers scheduled and charter flights, both direct and indirect, and also package holidays and car hire. It saves you hours doing it for yourself. Once you've checked with Skyscanner though, remember that it doesn't scan every single website and that the best price found on an airline or tour operator's own website isn't always the best price available. Sometimes you can find alternatives or the same flights cheaper through last minute specialists, so always double check with the likes of Cheapflights.co.uk and Travelsupermarket.com before you buy. Conversely, not all companies appear on these bucket sites, which is why Skyscanner works well alongside other price comparison sites.
Get smart with travel money
The Post Office, Thomas Cook, American Express and Travelex are probably the best known suppliers of foreign currency in the UK. But don't assume they automatically offer the best deals. If you do proper online research long before you plan to travel, you will find better deals than you'll get over the counter at a bureau de change, especially in an airport. Often the best deal will involve paying by card over the Internet to have the foreign currency posted to you before you leave, so make sure you have time for this. Traditionally, travel advisors have supported traveller's cheques as a form of payment for holiday-goers. However, this format is quickly being replaced by prepaid payment cards, which have many advantages for security-conscious tourists, and are accepted at shops and restaurants all over the world.
Using your plastic abroad
If you want to use your usual credit and debit cards abroad, then check out the cost before you catch your flight. All credit cards charge a fee if you withdraw cash while you're overseas and it's usually around the 2.5 - 3% mark, but some have a higher charge. What's more, it is always cheaper to use them to make foreign currency purchases than to purchase cash with them.
Once you're on holiday, don't let your spending get out of control. Decide on a daily budget, or a budget for your whole trip, and use budgeting software like Money Dashboard to watch the balance and transactions for any cards you use. Don't just plan your holiday wardrobe in advance; get organised on the financial front, then you really will find you can relax and unwind. Wherever you're off to, we hope you have a fantastic holiday and enjoy your hard earned break.