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How to avoid holiday pitfalls

How to avoid holiday pitfalls

Category: Travel

Updated: 28/10/2010
First Published: 02/07/2010

This article was correct at the time of publication. It is now over 6 months old so the content may be out of date.
Despite currently enjoying temperatures that put parts of the Mediterranean in the shade, millions of us are planning our summer holidays.

A report by the Office for National Statistics shows that where flying to foreign climbs was once a luxury enjoyed by the minority, a summer holiday abroad is now taken by the masses.

In 1971, just 6.7 million UK residents left the country for a holiday; by 2008, that number had soared to 45.5 million.

Preparing for a holiday is a hugely exciting time, but there are a few important things to remember. While it may be tempting to hedge you bets by not taking out travel insurance, failure to do so could end up costing thousands of pounds.

Figures show that the average cost of medial care abroad in 2008 was £678, while more serious treatment, including translation facilities and transfers to more suitable medical locations can end in a colossal bill. Compare travel insurance providers.

Holiday-makers should ensure that they have a European Health Insurance Card, known as an E111 and available free of charge from Post Offices, if they are travelling to Europe.

An E111 should not be looked at as a replacement for travel insurance, however, and specific cover can usually be purchased online for the same price as a cheap pair of sun glasses.

Since the writing of this article the E111 has been replaced by the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). The Department of Health has set up an enquiry line for any problems relating to the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). The EHIC enquiry line is: 0845 605 0707.

If you have a packaged current account, it may also be worth checking if it includes annual travel cover. Many current accounts offer Free European multi-trip travel cover or Worldwide multi-trip family travel insurance as an added benefit when you switch. Two accounts which offer an aspect of travel cover are the Nationwide Flex Current Account and the Barclays Additions Active packaged current account.

Another crucial component of preparing for a holiday is getting your foreign money exchanged before you reach the airport, as on site exchanges offer miserly rates.

It is also unadvisable to wait until you reach your destination, as a lack of local knowledge is likely to end in an uncompetitive rate.

The best course of action is to research where on your high street you can get the highest amount of foreign currency for you money.

If you are planning on using a credit card abroad (read this tip!), the Post Office and Saga credit cards make no additional charges for using you card while on holiday, while the Nationwide Gold Card makes no charge for transactions in Europe (0% load in Europe, plus extended warranties/protection).

As recent incidents have shown, it is impossible to predict what may happen once you leave the UK so, even if you have no intention of using it, taking an emergency credit card could be your saving grace.

In the same vein, if you do have to draw money out using your debit card, it pays to take out larger amounts at a time as multiple visits to the ATM will result in repeat charges.

Nationwide's debit card is the cheapest option for transactions, with no charges in Europe, and a 1.00% levy made elsewhere. However this will stop as of 1st November 2010 as Nationwide are introducing a charge of £1 for each withdrawal and increasing the load charges abroad to 2% for Europe and Worldwide. So make the most of it and then look to switch to a better card if you are travelling abroad. Compare the best credit cards for overseas spending.

*Product and rate information and availability is correct as of the date of publication (shown at the top of the article). Products may be withdrawn by their provider or changed at anytime.

Disclaimer: Information is correct as of the date of publication (shown at the top of this article). Any products featured may be withdrawn by their provider or changed at any time.