Travel can be an expensive business but there are plenty of hacks to making sure that you’re not paying too much while you’re away. So – starting with advice on getting the cheapest flights – here’s our travel money saving guide.
Get first time deals, every time
Clearly, by far and away the biggest expense you’re likely to face when you go traveling is the cost of flights. So, there are a few ways to save even before you head off on your trip – and maybe give yourself a little bit more to spend while you’re away. The internet has made it incredibly easy to search for and compare flights, and sites like Skyscanner give you lots of different hints and tips on how to book flights at cheaper times, to travel off peak, to save by booking indirect flights and to even get around baggage fees.
There are plenty of useful comparison tools out there then to help you get the best deal on your flights, but we’ve also got another quick tip: clear your cache. Whenever you browse a site online it will store files (called cookies) on your computer, in order to remember your preferences and to make your next visit to the site a smoother and more tailored one, based on your past behaviour.
However the problem for those of us looking to save money on our flights is that travel companies and airlines offer different deals to those people arriving on the websites for the first time to those visitors who have been before. So, to get those exclusive deals reserved for first-time visitors, clear your cache on your browser. Just search ‘how to clear my cache’ in Google to get the instructions for your specific browser and operating system.
Have a dedicated overseas credit card
We’ve found that lots of people we talk to like to use a credit card when they’re abroad. It’s quick, easy and convenient – but you do need to be careful. Obviously one of the biggest issues you can face with a credit card is just that convenience: it can be very easy to overspend and find yourself with a hefty bill on your return home. But of course, avoiding that is really down to you – it’s a question of understanding your total budget for the trip and then working out what that means in terms of a daily allowance. It’s tough to be strict with yourself on holiday, but you will be glad of it when you’re back home.
However there is another way in which you can take a financial hit with credit cards if you’re not clued up. Banks will charge one exchange rate for people swapping their currency, but most credit card companies will add around 3 per cent of cost onto that figure if you’re using their credit card abroad. So, make sure you understand how your existing card works – and if you’re going to get charged then make sure you give yourself enough time before you go (around three weeks) to apply for a credit card that doesn’t charge you for overseas transactions. We think the Barclaycard Platinum is a great option as it promises no fees on your overseas transactions and no interest on ATM withdrawals.
Don’t overspend – use a prepaid card
If you really are worried that you might not be able to restrain your spending once you’re abroad, then a good alternative to a credit card is a prepaid card. We’re big fans of these kinds of cards as they offer you the security and convenience that you get with a credit card, but remove the worry of overspending or hidden costs and fees.
So, how do they work? Well, you can still withdraw money from cash machines while you’re abroad, and you can of course also pay directly with the card. Essentially, you load the card with an amount you’re happy with before you go, and then use it while you’re abroad.
A few words of caution around these kinds of cards however – they’re not completely fee free. Each time you load it you’re likely to be charged (typically around 3 per cent of whatever you’re putting on it), and some prepaid cards do also charge you every time you use them overseas. In the UK, the Post Office offer a prepaid Travel Money Card that we think offers a lot of flexibility – as well as 25 per cent off your travel insurance.
We think that prepaid cards can be a useful and efficient option, but as ever, our advice is to carefully read the terms and conditions of the service before you sign up.