Your money-saving holiday checklist
Save money by packing smart
Forgetting your camera's memory card or leaving your phone charger at home can cost more when you try to buy them abroad so double-check you've packed them.
1. Check your travel insurance
Don't scrimp on this – medical costs can run into thousands of pounds so always buy adequate cover otherwise a cheap holiday could be very expensive. If you have a one-year multi-trip policy, put the expiry date in your diary or calendar - it's easy to forget if you only renew once a year.
You also need to check validity e.g. if your policy covers children up to/from a certain age and they're now older, you might need to tweak the cover. There's nothing worse than making a claim then finding out you're not covered. Get more advice here.
2. Got your European Health Insurance Card?
If you're travelling in Europe (to an EU country or Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland) and need medical treatment, it's often free or reduced-cost with an EHIC card which can be less hassle than claiming against insurance too. Apply for it in good time and if you already have one, check the expiry date – they're valid for five years.
3. Check for unpaid bills
It's a good idea anyway to set up direct debits for regular payments (particularly credit cards so you don't get charged interest) but if you're going away for a couple of weeks, it's even more important. Make sure you've cleared any bills so you're not liable for late payments while you're away.
4. Find out mobile phone costs
As you probably know, using your mobile phone abroad (roaming) can really hike up that bill. Call your phone company before you leave and ask about overseas 'bundles' which make calls/texts cheaper. Find out which calls are included as if you need to call home during your holiday, you may need a different deal to someone who wants to make calls to the country they're visiting. Some bundles will automatically carry over into the next month so don't forget to cancel it when you get back.
5. Valid driving licence?
If you're hiring a car when you're away, make sure your driving licence is valid and if you have a photocard licence, take the paper counterpart with you – some car hire companies will insist on seeing both. An expired driving licence can also result in fines.
6. Get the best foreign currency deal
Avoid changing money at the airport. You can usually get better rates and commission-free exchanges at smaller exchange bureaus on the high street. It's worth comparing total costs as some places might charge commission but still offer a better deal overall. If you have no choice but to get your currency at the airport, pre-order it for a slightly better rate.
The best way to save money on currency is to get the right debit or credit card but you need to be organised and apply in advance. Check out lovemoney's feature.
7. Note your lost/stolen card numbers
If you're unlucky enough to lose debit/credit cards on holiday, the first thing you'll want to do is cancel them. Make a note of the lost/stolen card phone numbers for each of your cards and carry the information separately to your wallet. That way, you can call straight away, saving on unnecessary call costs - and you'll quickly stop someone using your card if it is stolen.
8. Hunt out cheap airport parking
Don't leave it to the last minute to park your car at the airport. Short-stay car parks are expensive so avoid at all costs. Long–stays are cheaper but booked in advance, they're better value. Try sites like Parking4Less or airport-parking.co.uk - and sometimes combining parking with a hotel stay (for early flights) works out even cheaper.
9. Watch your weight...
We mean luggage, of course! Many airlines are quick to charge for check-in luggage which weighs more than the specified allowance, so weigh it at home to avoid bumping up the cost of a cheap holiday. And don't fill it to the max if you want to bring home any souvenirs, clothes etc.
10. Sign up to loyalty programmes
If you've booked flights separately, don't forget to credit your flight to any frequent flyer/loyalty programme. This can save you money later on with free upgrades or lounge access. If you've booked as part of a package, it's still worth checking if the tour operator operates any similar schemes.
Finally.... photocopy everything!
Scan all your holiday documents (passports, tickets, driving licence, travel insurance etc) and email them to yourself. That way, you'll always have access them no matter what happens. It's not a bad idea to keep paper copies somewhere in your luggage too. This will save time and money should you lose any documents.
Now you've ticked all that off your list, just check you've packed your holiday essentials and have a happy holiday!
Where to next?
More money-saving advice and cheap holiday deals
All about all-inclusive holidays
How to have a cheap holiday in peak season