Martin Lewis issues advice on travel and refunds
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Ahead of the summer holidays, Jonathan Merry, CEO at international money transfer comparison site, MoneyTransfers.com, shared top errors travellers make that can cost them money – and tips to avoid them.
1. Booking flights too early or too late
Booking too early or too late can land flyers with some unnecessary costs.
So, Jonathan’s first tip was to pick the right time to book flights.
Buying plane tickets too early can run the risk that airlines often reduce their flight prices nearer the departure date.
On the flip side, travellers who leave it too late to buy tickets might see prices jump back up as demand increases the week before the holiday.
A good bet is three or four months in advance.
2. Picking the wrong day to fly on
Jonathan’s second tip was to be mindful of the best days to fly.
Friday evenings and weekend flights may cost more than a Tuesday lunchtime flight, for example, thus flying midweek “could save you huge amounts”.
3. Not taking out or taking out the wrong travel insurance policy
Holidaymakers often neglect to take out an insurance policy when going away, or they choose the wrong one.
Jonathan said: “No matter how short your holiday is, taking out travel insurance is essential.”
Despite being an extra cost up front, it can save hundreds in the long term if you happen to experience an incident such as illness, injury, theft and cancellations.
“In the USA for example, stitches could cost you anywhere between 500-1,500 dollars, whilst in Spain, you’ll be looking at €300 for a trip to the emergency room alone.”
4. Not comparing prices of hotels/flights
There is nothing particularly wrong with having an old reliable when it comes to airlines.
However, flyers who shop around on various different airlines can save money by opting for low-budget airlines and non-direct flights, or clearing the browser cache and monitoring prices months in advance.
5. Not using the correct currency
Paying in sterling is a good way to waste money quickly, and instead it’s best to use the local currency when paying for things abroad.
Jonathan warned that paying in GBP can incur unsuspecting holidaymakers with extravagant exchange rates.
6. Using the wrong bank card
Jonathan explained: “Some banks will charge you transaction fees, as well as purchase fees on everything purchased overseas.
“This can all soon start to add up if you are making several different purchases abroad.”
It’s always best to check what your bank’s policy is.
“Another option may be a prepaid card, which you can transfer money onto before travelling, in order to avoid fees when paying abroad.”
7. Leaving your exchanging of currency until the last minute
The lead up to a holiday can be manic and stressful, but exchanging your currency should be a top priority before heading to the airport, as it can be far more expensive there.
Failing this: “The majority of airports allow you to buy your currency online and pick it up once you’ve arrived, this can be done the night before you fly and will have a much better rate than in-person on the day.”
8. Overweight luggage
Airlines have weight limits when it comes to luggage, so travellers should ensure that their bags meet the requirements before the dreaded weigh-in, to avoid further charges.
“Try and wear all bulky items of clothing and footwear such as jackets or trainers, to avoid having to pack them.”
9. Not checking rules on liquids
Airlines are also stringent when it comes to liquids, and carry-on luggage can only hold liquids in 100ml bottles.
They must be sealed in a single, transparent bag that measures around 20cm x 20cm.
Jonathan warned: “Remembering this rule and purchasing these bags prior to your flight will allow you to check whether your liquids fit at home, avoiding a situation where you have to throw away any products.”
10. Visiting attractions and travelling at peak times
“It might seem more convenient to book a holiday over a weekend, especially if you are trying to save up your annual leave at work.
“However, it is worth doing some research prior to travelling in order to find out the best times to visit attractions.”
Tourist attractions may charge visitors more at peak times – which usually fall on weekends – or at certain times of the day.
Check when the off-peak visiting hours are for tourist attractions to potentially get some cheaper deals.
11. Not dining where the locals go
In order to get the full cultural experience of a place, and avoid completely emptying their wallets, holidaymakers should dine where the locals do.
“Although you may want to sit and admire the tourist attractions whilst dining, restaurants in tourist hotspots will pretty much always have higher prices and poor quality food in comparison to the ones visited frequently by locals.”
In the same vein, heading to the local supermarket for a late-night snack is usually going to be cheaper than the mini-bar in a hotel room.
12. Not using public transport or exploring on foot
The travel expert explained: “The best option for getting around on holiday would be to explore the city on foot, this way you can take in all the sites whilst saving money.
“Many cities also offer bike rentals with pick-up and drop-off locations dotted around the city.”
Failing this, public transport such as trains, trams and buses will be less costly than getting a taxi.
13. Splurging on tourist or travel passes
Jonathan offered his final tip for avoiding needless costs on holiday: “Before splurging out on tourist or travel passes, always calculate whether they will actually be worthwhile.
“Try to plan a rough itinerary before travelling so you can see exactly how often you will need to hop on public transport or how much sightseeing you will realistically fit into your holiday, as you may not actually get your money’s worth.”
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