Mar 8, 2012

Posted by in Features, Money Saving Tips, Trip Advice | 0 Comments

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Your Easter holiday checklist

Travel checklistIf you’ve booked an Easter holiday this year, you’re probably counting down the days until your plane takes off. And even if you managed to bag a bargain, don’t waste unnecessary money at the last minute on all of the extras that can really add up.

To help you save some valuable spending money, and to ensure that your trip goes as smoothly as possible, we’ve put together an Easter holiday checklist…

Buy your travel money in advance and pocket the difference

In the run up to a holiday, it can be tempting to put all of your energy into finding the perfect pair of sunglasses and to leave chores such as buying your travel currency until the day before you travel or even at the airport. However, shopping around online in advance can make a big difference to the amount of money you actually take away with you.

For example, if you leave buying your travel money until you are at the airport, you could be throwing away up to £10 in every £100 you spend. Some number crunching by TravelSupermarket revealed that, at the beginning of March, pre-ordering £1,000 of Euros would get you €1,175 from the best buy online, ICE. However, if you turned up at Thomas Cook in Manchester Airport with £1,000 without pre-ordering, you would only take €1,060 away with you. That’s a whopping difference of €115 – or a few meals out.*

Alternatively, pre-paid cards are a good option for your travel money as they offer competitive exchange rates, and security measures such as chip and pin mean you are protected against theft. You can load them before you travel and, consequently, they can be a good way of controlling what you spend. Take a look at MoneySupermarket’s pre-paid cards page to find the best card for you.

Check charges before you travel

Before you pack your bags, check whether you will be charged for using your credit or debit card abroad – and how much that charge is – so you can avoid paying over the odds when taking money out or buying items. If you want to use a credit or debit card as a method of payment, a good option is to apply for one that is designed for usage abroad. Look out for cards that have no fees for cash withdrawals and purchases, and no maintenance fees.

A good card for holiday spending is the Halifax Clarity Credit Card which has no fees for spending overseas. The Sainsbury’s Gold Credit Card is another option as, unlike most cards, there is no interest charged on cash withdrawals as long as you pay your statement off in full. It does come with a £5 monthly fee, but an added perk is that you get comprehensive travel insurance with the card for a family of up to six children. As with any credit card, make sure you pay your balance off in full each month as the cards have representative APRs of 12.9% and 20.1% respectively.

Book your hire car now

The closer you leave booking a hire car to the date you travel, the more expensive it will get – so book now if you haven’t already. This is especially true over peak travel periods such as Easter when demand is high and it can be a struggle to find the type of car you want. Find out more about why you should pre-book car hire in our blog post ‘Book car hire in advance and save money‘.

If you have left it late to reserve your car, use a price-comparison site such as TravelSupermarket to find the best of the deals that are left on the market. And, don’t forget to buy your car hire excess insurance in advance too as the charge to take this out at the rental desk can be extremely steep.

Make sure you are covered

Travel insurance is essential for any type of trip and shopping around in advance using a price-comparison site will help you to find the right deal for you. The best option is to buy travel insurance as soon as you book your break so you are covered for cancellation should anything go wrong beforehand. However, whether you buy your insurance months before or the night before your holiday, don’t be tempted just to buy the cheapest policy you find. Read the fine print and make sure you are covered for what you need.

Know your limits when packing   

Before you cram everything that will fit into your suitcase, check your airline’s baggage allowance so you aren’t caught out by excess baggage fees. And even if you are a frequent traveller, don’t assume you know the limits as every airline is slightly different. For example, on a flight to Europe, British Airways allow travellers to take hold luggage up to 23kg in weight and 90cmx75cmx43cm in size for free. In comparison, Ryanair charges £30 one way for a 20kg bag in the hold.

It is just as important to know your hand luggage allowances too as if you go over the imposed limits – either in weight, size or number of bags – you could be made to check your bag in and will be charged for doing so. Find out more in our blog post ‘Hand luggage tips‘ written by TravelSupermarket’s travel expert, Bob Atkinson.

Don’t forget the essentials

A few weeks before your holiday, make sure you know where your passport is and check that it is in date, that you have a current European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) for any European trips and that you have printed out any important documents such as your tickets.

To be prepared for any eventuality when on holiday and to prevent any extra stress should anything go wrong, make sure that you also have emergency numbers for your card and travel insurance providers written down and keep them in a safe place in your hand luggage.

Prevent any wasted money at the airport

If you are driving to the airport, it really pays to pre-book your airport parking. You can save up to 60% by doing this. For example, if you turn up to Heathrow’s long-stay car park at Easter without pre-booking, you will be charged £240.80 for leaving your car for two weeks. In comparison, we found a deal on TravelSupermarket to park for two weeks over Easter for just £84.95. That’s a saving of £155.85.

And, if you are going to grab a meal at the airport and fancy a spot of luxury, why not book an airport lounge? Compare the prices of lounges in your airport on TravelSupermarket – it will probably cost less than you think and you will be able to enjoy free snacks and drinks as well as some peace and quiet before you fly.

However, if lounges aren’t for you but you would still like a meal before you fly, or plan to purchase one on the flight itself, you could save money by making up a packed lunch. Or, if this is too much effort as you are already in full holiday mode, a quick look at your airport’s website in advance may bring up some offers on in the restaurants and bars. For example, Birmingham Airport’s site currently has offers for food and drink including a free glass of Champagne at Blanc & Noir, and buy-one-get-one-free at Burger King.

Last-minute deals

If you’ve made it to the end of this checklist but haven’t actually made plans for Easter yet, why not take a look at our last-minute deals for inspiration?

*Please note: Any rates or deals mentioned in this article were correct at the time of writing.

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