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How to save money on holiday

How to save money on holiday

Category: Travel

Updated: 10/08/2016
First Published: 10/08/2016

This article was correct at the time of publication. It is now over 6 months old so the content may be out of date.

Saving money may not be at the top of the agenda when you're on holiday – you're there to enjoy yourself, after all, not count the pennies. But, that's not to say that you can't be a bit savvy with your holiday spending. It's always best to stick to a budget rather than spend frivolously and regret it when you get back on home soil, so here are a few ways that you can save money on your travels.

Before you go…

  • Book in advance, or snap up a last-minute deal. There are two schools of thought when it comes to snapping up a holiday bargain - either book well in advance, or take a spontaneous approach and see what last-minute deals are available. There could still be time to jet off…
  • Book excursions. If you're planning on a booking a few excursions, it can often be cheaper to book these in advance, too. You might be able to compare a few providers or negotiate a cheap rate, and at the very least, you can do a bit of research to see who you want to go with.
  • Research the area. It's always a good idea to have a basic understanding of how much things will cost in your chosen destination, as that way you can set a realistic budget - and ideally stick to it, too.
  • Exchange currency in advance. This is an absolute must! Leaving it until the last minute is a recipe for disaster, as the exchange rates at airports will be far poorer than just about anywhere else. Compare a few providers in advance and lock in to a great exchange rate, or if you'll need more cash, look into currency exchange services.
  • Get a travel credit card. Don't even think about using your debit or regular credit card abroad, as these will typically charge sky-high fees for use on foreign soil. Instead, find a travel credit card (or prepaid version), as that way you'll not only get a competitive exchange rate, but you won't be charged foreign usage fees, either.
  • Sort your mobile.Either tell your mobile phone provider that you're heading abroad or thoroughly research their foreign usage charges (and if you can, don't use your phone at all when you're abroad!), as you wouldn't want to get a hefty bill when you're home.

When you're there…

  • Set a daily budget. It can be tough to stick to a daily budget, but it's always worth doing - divide your total holiday budget by the number of days you're away for, and try your hardest not to go over it, otherwise you could end up running out of money by the end.
  • Opt for a combination of cards and cash. It's always worth having a bit of cash on you for those retailers and market stalls that don't accept card payment, but you may not want to carry around too much. A travel credit card will be a lot more secure, and if you've got one that offers added perks (0% interest on purchases, for example, or even cashback) you can have the ideal combination.
  • Always buy in the local currency. Retailers will often ask you whether you want to pay in sterling or the local currency – always go local! If you pay by sterling an extra charge will be added for the privilege, which means you'll be paying more than you bargained for.
  • Avoid tourist traps. While it can be tempting to choose a restaurant in the heart of the tourist area, even going a street or two away can make all the difference – not only will it often be cheaper, but you could find a hidden gem that only locals know about.
  • Get a travel or city pass. Many tourist cities will offer a daily or weekly pass that grants entrance to a variety of city landmarks (museums, galleries etc.) and in some cases public transport, too, so if you're planning on being cultured it can be far cheaper than paying an entrance fee each time.

When you get back…

  • Don't exchange unused currency at the airport! The same rule applies when you return home - never exchange currency at the airport, no matter how convenient it may seem.
  • Start saving for next year… Got the post-holiday blues? Then start planning for the next one! There's nothing like a bit of holiday research to get you back in the mood, and if you start re-building your savings pot (regular savings accounts, for example, can be ideal for this very purpose), you could soon have enough to jet back off again.

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.