Top 10 traps that will blow your holiday budget

Holiday season is well underway, but if you still haven’t booked your getaway you may be on the lookout for a last-minute bargain.

In this case, we’ve got good news. TravelSupermarket has just launched its ‘El Sale Grande’ where you can compare all of the major holiday sales in one place.

But after bagging a bargain, you’ll also want to make sure you have enough to spend in your destination of choice. However, holiday budgets can all too easily come unstuck, so we’ve put together the top 10 traps to avoid.

1. Buying your currency at the airport

With the madness of packing and organising in the days before you jet off, it can be tempting to leave buying your currency until the last minute. However, waiting until you get to the airport is a sure fire way to guarantee poor rates.

The best deals on currency can be found by shopping around in advance online. However if you do have to get your money from the airport, at least pre-book before collection as this will still give you a better deal.

2. Blowing your budget before you’ve taken off

Many of us consider the airport to be the starting point of our holiday – but this also makes it easy to get carried away with your spending. Eating at one of the airport restaurants if you have a family for example, will put a major dent in £100 and even the cost of snacks, drinks and magazines to take on the plane add up. Buy what you need before you get to the airport and make a packed lunch so it won’t be so tempting to splash out.

3. Taking the wrong credit card

If you are planning on putting your holiday spending money on your credit card, don’t make the error of just using the one in your wallet. Taking a card that’s specifically designed for overseas spending can save you a fortune in fees.

For example, the Halifax Online Clarity Credit Card, comes with a 0% foreign purchase fees (usually around 3% of every transaction) and no cash withdrawal fee wherever you use it in the world – though interest will be charged on cash at 12.9% (variable) even if you repay it in full.

Alternatively, you may prefer to opt for a pre-paid card. These cards require you to load cash on them upfront which means you know exactly what you are spending – a great way to stick to your holiday budget.

4. Booking travel extras last minute

There are certain ‘extras’ that are easy to forget when booking a holiday but this can be an expensive oversight. For example, you may need to hire a car for your holiday and leaving it until you get to the airport not only risks the possibility of the company running out of the make you want (especially in peak season) but it also means prices will staggeringly higher.

At the time of writing, (June 6, 2013) the Hertz ‘pay at location’ price for a seven-seater people carrier being picked up from Palma de Mallorca airport for a weeks’ hire was £1,226. Using a TravelSupermarket comparison for a similar car returned a price of just £419.20.

5. Getting caught out by dynamic currency conversion

You may be given the option to pay in sterling on your card when on holiday which can initially sound appealing. However, this so-called dynamic currency conversion will see you pay an inflated price, so always decline and pay in the local currency instead.

6. Failing to turn off your data roaming

It is essential you turn off your data roaming on your smart phone when you land in your destination. I fell foul of this on my holiday this year and returned home to a nice fat bill of £200 from my phone company.

Even if you don’t leave data roaming at ‘on’ for long, your phone will update emails consistently – and whether you read them or not, will charge you for the privilege. Switching it off before you board the plane is the safest option.

7. Eating out three times a day

One of my favourite things about holidays is discovering the local cuisine and finding new places to dine out in the evening. However, eating all three meals out is a certain way to blow your budget. In this case look for other options; if you are self-catering for example you could stock up at the local supermarket and make your own breakfast and pack a picnic lunch.

8. Forgetting to buy travel insurance

While buying travel insurance may not be high on your list of priorities before you jet off, forgetting to buy it could cost you dear.

Travel insurance is a safeguard to protect you against events that are out of your control. If you were to get ill, for example, the costs of treatment and repatriation could run into thousands of pounds. Insurance also gives you protection against unforeseen events such as lost luggage and cancellation.

Keep costs down by shopping around for the best deal but make sure you have a comprehensive policy. Going for just the cheapest option can be a false economy.

At TravelSupemarket we recommend that a policy that covers you for up to £2million in medical expenses, cancellation cover that would cover the amount you have paid for your holiday, and a minimum of £1,500 for baggage cover.

Find out how travel insurance saved these three travellers in Cathy Toogood’s article.

9. Failing to pack your EHIC

It’s essential you remember to pack your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) before you go on holiday. This entitles you to the same state medical care within any country in the European Economic Area (EEA) as a local resident. And, while this may not be entirely free, it is certainly a better option than forking out for private care. Liz Phillips has all you need to know on the EHIC in her article.

10. Busting your bag weight limit on the way home

The last day of holidays is bad enough without arriving at the airport, checking in your bag, and finding out that all those sombreros, maracas and other souvenirs you have packed have taken you over your baggage weight allowance.

Handheld scales are really useful to check the weight of your bag before you leave for the airport. If you do find that you are over your specified weight, make sure you purchase extra online first.

Leaving it until you get to the airport will cost you significantly more, for example easyJet charges £21 for an extra three kilos of weight if you pre-book. This increases to a hefty £33 if you leave it until check-in.

With a little forward planning and organisation, it’s easy to see that you can save yourself a packet and spend your holiday budget on things you really want. So you can kick-back, relax, and order that that extra cocktail on the beach without worrying.

Please note: Any rates or deals mentioned in this article were available at the time of writing. Click on a highlighted product and apply direct.

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