Oct 11, 2012

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Save more than £400 on your October half-term extras

Following the dismal summer weather, and with many of us choosing to stay at home for this year’s exciting sporting events, British families seem more determined than ever to get away during this October’s half term for a dose of much-needed sun.

In fact, at the end of August, TravelSupermarket saw searches for holidays over the October half term increase by 23% compared to last year, with sunny Tenerife being the destination of choice.

So, if you have booked a holiday over the October half term, it is more important than ever to get organised with your travel extras before demand outstrips supply and prices spiral. Here we show you how a little forward planning could save you more than £400 – that’s a nice sum to squirrel away for your next break.


Pre-order your holiday money and save £131.23

Once you have bagged a bargain flight and sorted out your accommodation, it can be all too easy to let organising your holiday money slip to the bottom of your to-do list. And, before you know it, you’re buying it in a rush in your lunch break the day before you travel or nipping to the travel money desk in the airport to buy some currency.

But buying your travel money in advance can really pay dividends. We did some research and compared rates when buying €1,500, and found that you could pocket as much as £131.23 more if you bought your money with the best buy online rather than turning up at the airport and buying it there.

For example, if you were flying from Heathrow and wanted to take €1,500 away with you, it would cost you £1,350.74 if you were to leave things to the last minute and buy it from Travelex in the airport without pre-ordering. However, if you were to shop around online for your travel money, you could get €1,500 for as little as £1,219.51 if you pre-ordered it for collection from ICE Heathrow or just £1,229.51 if you pre-ordered it for delivery with FairFX (and delivery is free for orders over £750).

And, if you realise you’ve forgotten your travel cash the night before or even the morning you fly, it is worth going online and pre-ordering your money for collection when you arrive at the airport. If you were to pre-order your money from Travelex Heathrow, for example, €1,500 would cost you £1.243.06 – that’s a huge saving of £107.68 on the walk-up price for a few clicks of a mouse.

Sort your car hire now and pocket £59.79

A hire car not only gives you the freedom to explore your destination, it can also save a lot of hassle trying to find transport and lugging bags around when you arrive. And ordering your car in advance will both give you the best choice of vehicles and help you secure the lowest price.

For example, if you are jetting off to the family-favourite, Tenerife, this October half term you could secure a hire car using TravelSupermarket’s comparison service for as little as £80.19 (based on car hire from October 27 – November 3). This is a saving of £59.79 when compared to Hertz’s pay-on-arrival price of £139.98 for a similar vehicle on the same dates and means you won’t be fighting with other families for the few – if any – cars that are left when you get there.

Other ways to save on car hire include buying your excess insurance in advance to avoid the extortionate charges from many car hire desks on arrival, and taking your own car seat if your child needs one to avoid the daily rental fees – many airlines allow you to take these for free while some low-cost carriers have a small charge if you book in advance.

Shop around for your travel insurance to save £58.32

Travel insurance is an essential for any holiday but it doesn’t mean you have to pay over the odds for it. Shopping around and comparing similar policies can save you more than half of the price.

For example, if you and the family are heading to Egypt this October half term, a Classic policy with the Post Office would cost you £90.88 (based on two adults and two children under 12 travelling). If, however, you ran a quick search on TravelSupermarket, you could find single-trip policies from as little as £32.56 – that’s a saving of £58.32, meaning you’ll have covered yourself and the kids for less than half of the Post Office’s price.

But when comparing policies, remember not to scrimp on the level of cover you buy as a few more pounds spent now to get the best policy for your needs could really save you should anything go wrong. TravelSupermarket recommends a minimum cover of:

  • £2million for medical expenses
  • £1million personal liability
  • £3,000 cancellation – or enough to cover the total cost of your holiday
  • £1,500 baggage
  • £250 for cash
  • Policy excesses under £100
  • Cover for scheduled airline failure and end supplier failure as desirable
  • Delay cover (eg £20/hour for first 12 hours).

Pre-book your parking spot to save £73.65

Airport parking

Taxi fares to and from the airport can be extortionate and when you’ve got bags for the whole family, the easiest option is often to drive there and leave your car for the week.

However, just turning up and parking can prove to be an expensive mistake as the best parking deals are available when booking online in advance.

For example, if you just turned up at Heathrow’s long stay car park over the October half term, you would be charged £17.20 a day or £137.60 for an eight-day period. A quick search on TravelSupermarket’s airport parking channel, however, brought back prices from £63.95 for the same period. That’s a saving of £73.65 and less than half of the price of just turning up.

Know your baggage limits and save as much as £140

Luggage allowances can be a real headache as not all airlines have the same size and weight restrictions. But make sure you check yours carefully before you pack as going over these limits, even by a small amount, can be an expensive mistake.

For example, if you don’t comply with Ryanair’s hand baggage allowance – one piece of luggage (including a handbag/laptop) that weighs 10kg or less and has the maximum dimensions of 55cm x 40cm x 20cm – you could be stung for an extra £50. And, if you don’t book your hold luggage onto the flight before you arrive at the airport, you face charges of as much as £90 for your first 20kg bag.

And, it’s not just taking too much away with you that can leave you with an expensive bill. Recent research from TravelSupermarket found that 47% of British travellers pack in such a rush that they forget to take essential items such as plug adapters and sunglasses and end up having to buy them again in the airport or while away.

If you always leave your packing until the last minute or never know what to take, download our handy packing list so you don’t forget a thing.

How to make even more savings

If you are a savvy traveller and have made all of the above savings, here are a few more ways to keep your hard-earned cash in your wallet:

  • If you are travelling hand-luggage only, don’t pay over the odds for travel-sized toiletries – recent research from TravelSupermarket found that these products can cost up to 750% more than their normal-sized counterparts. Instead, decant your toiletries into travel-sized bottles.
  • Take a packed lunch for you and the family to avoid the huge mark-ups on in-flight catering. But don’t forget that the 100ml rule applies for drinks and liquids such as yoghurts.
  • Check whether you will be charged to use your normal debit or credit card while you are away and, if so, apply for a credit card designed for use overseas.
Follow Cathy on Twitter at @CathyToogood
Please note: All prices and deals were correct and available at the time of writing (October 9, 2012).
  1. Great tips – especially re the holiday money. Makes sense to pick it up from the airport. It just shows how worthwhile it is pre planning.

    On our blog, I recently wrote an article on car hire and agree with all your points esp re car seats and excess insurance. However, especially on the spanish islands, I would warn people to read the fuel policies before they confirm the booking. Some cheaper car hire companies operate a buy the tank and bring it back empty, which can end up costing you more than if you’d taken a higher rated rental with a company offering a take it away full and bring back full fuel policy.


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