Our simple, 6-point cost-cutting plan could save plenty while on your next trip.
Currency: buy before you fly
If you need foreign currency, make sure you get it before you go and definitely don’t buy it at the airport. Just like motorway service stations where prices can be up to twice those you’ll find elsewhere, so too airport currency exchange booths rely on a captive audience to boost their coffers. If you have time, jump on MoneySavingExpert.com’s travel money comparison site before you go. Then, when you’ve found the deal that’s right for you, see if you can collect your cash at the airport -- that way, you get the best of both worlds.
Pre-pay for the easy way
Rather than loading up on foreign currency, consider a pre-paid currency card, available from the likes of FairFx and Caxton FX. Admittedly, these come with their own costs, but they do offer peace of mind and practicality -- you simply load it up with credit, then use it just as you would a debit or credit card. And if you do happen to lose it, you can get it replaced with your balance just the way it was.
Slather on the savings
These days, most of us are sufficiently sun-aware to make sure there’s a bottle or two of SPF15 in our bag. And when it comes to skincare, it’s tempting to think that the more you spend on these lotions and potions, the better protected you’ll be. Not so.
A survey by Which? has revealed that ASDA’s £3 basic sun cream was equally as effective as (or better than) other, more expensive brands.
Tipping -- getting it right
It’s a thorny issue and it’s easy to get wrong -- particularly given that everywhere has different etiquette when it comes to tipping. In the US it’s customary to leave 15-20%, but if you applied the same logic in Spain where only 5-10% is the norm, you’d find yourself needlessly out of pocket (if very popular). Take a moment to find out what the local custom is before you travel -- that way you’ll avoid social awkwardness and possibly even save some money.
Deals for your wheels
We’ve all been there: that difficult moment at the airport car-hire desk when they ask if you’d like to upgrade to the full insurance, then feign amazement/concern when you decline. A horrible vision flashes before you: loose pebbles on a deserted road, a cracked windscreen, an impossibly high repair bill, the remortgaging of your house, spiralling debt, homelessness. Before you know it, you’re shelling out an extra £15 a day for the full bells-and-whistles cover. There is another way of course -- take insurance prior to your trip. Companies such as icarhireinsurance.com and www.insurance4carhire.com specialise in this kind of thing, offering annual cover from £39.99. Check with your credit card company, too. If you book the car hire through your credit card, you might already have some cover, well, covered.
Just a few simple steps can save you a bundle on your phone bill. Step one should be to call your mobile operator and tell them you’re going away. Lots of phone companies have special packages for travellers, but if you don’t ask you won’t get. Next up, switch off your voicemail -- it costs money to receive calls while you’re abroad and that same rule applies if someone leaves you a voice message. If it’s off, you can’t be charged. While you’re there, make sure your data roaming is switched off -- this is the function that allows you to use the internet while abroad, but it can be eye-wateringly expensive and decidedly sick-making if you rack up charges without even realising.
If you plan on using your phone regularly on your trip, consider getting yourself a global SIM card. Cards like this one from TravelTalk can be used in 170 countries nationwide and allow you to receive free calls in 50 of those countries (Australia, USA, and Greece for example).