1. Make sure you have travel insurance when you book, rather than just when you travel; otherwise you’re not covered for cancellation, change or company failure. Annual policies are cheaper if you go away more than twice a year, cost from as little £17 per year & you can earn travel insurance cashback by using us to buy it online
Europe: Virgin* £17 single, £26 w. sports, £31 family.
Worldwide: Virgin* £25 single, Protect Your Bubble* £33 w. & £35 family
2. Check your European Health Insurance Card isn’t expired – 4m of them are due to run out in 2012. The free EHIC card gets you treatment in state-run EU hospitals at the same price as locals, yet many cards are expiring & this could be an expensive problem should you become ill abroad. Find out more about the EHIC here http://www.nhs.uk/NHSEngland/Healthcareabroad/EHIC/Pages/Introduction.aspx. Plus, if you’re going to drive abroad, check that driving licences for anyone who will drive are valid too.
3. The right credit card is the cheapest way to spend abroad – use a specialist overseas card for the best exchange rates. Most credit & debit cards add 3%, so spend £100 worth of euros and it will actually cost you £103. However, there are specialist load-free credit cards just for overseas use; Halifax Clarity, Post Office & for over 50s Saga (& the Select card for Nationwide FlexAccount holders).
Plus – Never change money at the airport as they usually give the worst rates, but if you must, pre-order for pick-up to get a better rate (usually possible until 4 hours beforehand). Some debit cards (bank account cards) actually have the worst fees as they add up to £1.50 every time you spend. These include Lloyds TSB, Halifax, RBS, Intelligent Finance, Santander & NatWest! If paying by credit or debit card, choose to pay in the local currency rather than pounds. If you do, the shop does the conversion, usually at a worse rate than your card company. Avoid another possible hidden charge at bureau de change by not using Barclays, Lloyds TSB, Natwest, Santander & RBS cards to pay for your currency – they charge a cash withdrawal fee, so use a different card if possible, or withdraw the cash on your debit card and pay with that.
4. Use a flight comparison tool to check for the cheapest flights & remember that booking early is usually cheaper for scheduled flights. Don’t forget that if you use the comparison tool to then go on & book the flight, you WON’T get cashback. We recommend writing down the best offer, clearing your browser cookies & then clicking through from us to book direct with the airline, or through a site like Expedia/Ebookers. This way you WILL get cashback on your flight bookings.
5. Book car hire before you travel & don’t leave it till you’re there. Book early and it can cost under £10 a day. Check out the cashback available from car hire companies.
6. Don’t buy a car hire firms ‘excess’ insurance – car hire firms will try to frighten you by saying “have a scratch and you have to pay the excess” to sell their £10+/day additional ‘no excess’ policies. Instead you can get cheap standalone policies, or even annual excess cover if you hire regularly. Check out specialist retailers such as Click4Gap on our insurance cashback page.
7. Cut airport parking costs by up to 65% by pre-booking & by using a comparison site like SkyParkSecure (4% cashback), APH (up to 5% cashback & currently offering 5% discount) etc. See all the offers available under Cheap Airport Parking.
8. Don’t rely on published star ratings to indicate a hotel’s quality. There’s no actual world standard and it’s usually just an indicator of facilities. Whilst not perfect & recently criticised for having no way to check for fake reviews, have a look at TripAdvisor feedback to find a hotel, then look around to find the best price. Although online prices are low, it sometimes pays to contact the hotel direct and find out if they can offer you a better price directly!
9. Similarly, travel agents may beat the web for hot ‘n’ cheap holidays, so don’t just assume the web will always be the cheapest! Package holidays can still be great value, especially for 7, 10 or 14 days in traditional holiday resorts. Book now for summer if you need specific facilities, or if you’re flexible leave it until a few weeks beforehand to grab a bargain.
10. Hostels are cheap, but not necessarily dirty. Many are clean, have private rooms & cost just £10pp/night incl. breakfast! There’s even a real castle, Carbisdale in Scotland. Check out the offers from Hostelbookers (1.5% cashback) & Budget Places (13.5% cashback), to choose from over 1000 destinations