It’s entirely possible to make savings while on your dream holiday with a little bit of forward planning, writes Ciara McDonnell.
For many of us, a holiday is the largest outright expense of the year. Once booked, there’s nothing left to do but pack up our swimwear and trashy novel for a week on the beach… or is there? Believe it or not, it’s entirely possible to actually make savings while on your dream holiday.
1. Get ‘Appy
Be smart by adding some money saving apps to your phone before your holiday. Maps.Me offers offline maps, meaning that travellers can access local maps without crippling data usage costs. Viator helps save money by finding deals and discounts on local travel, tours and meals out. If you are renting a car and travelling in the US, GasBuddy will help you find the cheapest petrol station near you. Wifi Finder will help you find a hotspot nearby, and Hotel Tonight will find you a cheap place to lay your head for the night.
2. Eat Like A Local
The old adage “eat where the locals eat” is true when it comes to getting the best value too. Eat your main meal like many of the local families will, in the afternoon. By choosing from the fixed-price local menu, you are guaranteed a taste of local cuisine, and the best value on offer. Most local restaurants in Europe have a dish of the day and nine times out of 10 it’s the best thing on the menu. Choose wine from the area, and you will be in good company. The best match for local cooking is the local drink, after all.
3. Roam Free
Before you travel, acquaint yourself with your phone operator’s roaming costs. Most companies have stopped charging their customers extortionate amounts to use their phone while in a foreign country, but it is essential to know what to expect. Why not take a digital holiday altogether and put the phone in a drawer for the extent of your holiday. Failing that, text or call friends and family via apps like Whatsapp or Viber while hooked up to your resort’s free wifi.
4. When In Doubt, Pre-book
From airport transfers to car parking, the best deals can be found by booking in advance. Car parking is undoubtedly cheaper when booked in advance. If you are travelling for more than two days at a time, always use the long-term car park, because it will be cheaper. Off-airport parking is usually the best value and always offers frequent transfers to the terminal. Most airports have a parking section on their website, making pre-booking completely painless.
5. Invest In Insurance
It’s often much better value to buy a yearly travel insurance policy, particularly if you travel frequently. As with all insurance policies, shop around and make sure your policy covers all eventualities that you require. If you are over 50, expect to be penalised .
6. The Time Is Right
Flight costs vary depending on the month, day, and even time of year, so consider when you travel. Avoid school holidays, bank holidays, and weekends if you can. Travelling on a Wednesday is usually a great time to get a deal, and off-peak times (like a sun holiday during winter time) will have the best deals. Check out www.skyscanner.net for the best deal on flights.
7. Rental Roulette
Get to know your car rental company and exploit it. Look into whether it will cost you less to insure your car separately or with the rental company. If you are bringing children on holiday, check whether the company provides car seats, and if so at what extra cost. Don’t splash out on a huge car; look for a smallish vehicle that will be economical with petrol.
8. Do Not Book Direct
When choosing your hotel accommodation, do not book through the hotel itself. Rather, two to four weeks in advance of your holiday, book through a website that offers ‘secret’ hotels, like hotels.com or lastminute.com and you could save up to 50%. ‘Secret’ hotels are a way for hotels to shift unsold rooms, and they use websites all over the world to sell them at a cut price, without compromising on amazing amenities.
9. Money Talks
If travelling outside the eurozone, buy your currency at the best available price to you. An Post offer steady, great value currency, but be sure to check the rates at all of your local financial institutions before buying it.Check your bank out to see what kinds of fees are levied on your bank card for foreign ATM transactions. If the fees are extortionate it may be worth buying an international pre-paid credit card to use on holidays.
10. Don’t Be A Frillseeker
Travel as simply as possible and you will find the best value. When travelling by air, make sure you know what you are dealing with. Some airlines charge for text confirmations, check in, seat selection, and credit card bookings. Likewise, ensure that all accommodation “upgrades” are free of charge or refuse them. A ‘complimentary’ bottle of mineral water and bed turndown each night might end up costing you more than you bargained for.
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