Holiday money: 6 ways to boost your budget and save in the sun

With weak exchange rates reducing the amount of spending money you’ll get abroad, foreign holidays may just seem a distant dream. But a little forward planning can help make your pound go even further by saving on holiday extras…

1. Bag the Best Exchange Rate

You’ve heard this before, but it’s worth saying again: sort out your currency before your departure date. Currency exchange firms at the airport tend not only to have the worst exchange rates but can also have hefty commission charges too.

BEFORE YOU GO: Use an online comparison service such as MoneySavingExpert’s TravelMoneyMax to track down the best currency deal. If you’re really organised, you could use a prepaid currency card (but check the small print for hidden charges).

2. Avoid a Plastic Meltdown

Foreign usage fees can make using credit and debit cards abroad expensive, adding as much as an extra 2.99% on purchases and 5% on cash withdrawals. Take the right cards and you’ll avoid these fees.

BEFORE YOU GO: Find out more, including which cards have the lowest fees, by using MoneySavingExpert’s Overseas Card Charges Checker.

3. Park Expensive Long-Stay Charges

Again, shopping around can help you cut the cost of airport parking. It’s worth looking for off-site car parks too – most will transport you to and from the airport and some even pick up and drop off your car at the airport.

BEFORE YOU GO: Try Airport Parking Shop to compare deals.

4. Drive Down the Cost of Car Rental

You’ll get the best deals on car hire if you book at least eight weeks before you go – comparison sites (see below) can save you time and effort.

Before signing on the virtual dotted line, make sure you know what’s included in the deal. For example, some car hire firms provide a full tank and ask you to return it empty – this sounds fine in theory, but you’ll probably pay way more than the going rate for your first tank of fuel.

One of the most expensive add-on charges is excess waiver insurance. If you buy this yourself before you go, you’ll save money.

To avoid any disputes over damage to the car, it’s a good idea to take photographs and make a note of any scratches, dents or other signs of damage on the car, then get someone from the rental company to sign it – do the same when you return the car.

BEFORE YOU GO: Try one of these comparison sites to find good rental deals abroad:, or Kayak

Driving your own car abroad?

Take the time to check your insurance. Some policies limit the number of days you’re covered abroad, or downgrade your cover to third party only. This could cost you dearly if you have a prang while you’re away.

5. Minimise Your Mobile Charges

Thanks to recent mobile roaming price caps, it’ll cost no more than 15p per minute to make a call and 16p per MB of mobile data in any EU country.

EU roaming charges are being phased out, but it’s still possible to run up a hefty mobile bill, especially outside the EU, so check your roaming charges before you go – many mobile operators have roaming bundles that could save you cash.

And if you don’t want to get clobbered at all, switch off data roaming at the airport and find a local hotel or cafe with free Wi-Fi.

6. Protect Yourself Abroad

Whether you’re a thrill seeker or a sun worshipper, travel insurance is essential – no one is immune to unexpected holiday mishaps. So don’t try to save money by missing this off your shopping list, but do shop around for the best deal.

If you’re holidaying in Europe, pack a valid European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). These enable you to access state healthcare free or at a reduced cost in Europe and some insurers insist on them.

BEFORE YOU GO: Apply for an EHIC here and use comparison sites such as Compare the Market,, and to find the best travel insurance deals.

This blog is intended to provide information, not financial advice, to help you make an informed decision about savings and investments. We do not offer financial advice. You should contact a financial adviser, who may charge a fee, if you want financial advice.

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