August 14, 2019
Recent political uncertainty has caused the value of pound to drop dramatically. As a result, we’re currently getting a lot less for our money versus the euro and the dollar. But it’s not all bad news. With a bit of savvy planning, you can take the sting out of the sterling slump.
Make your holiday money go further with these ten handy tips:
Turkey is proving really popular this year, drawing in Brits with its cheap food and drink: you can expect a beer to cost you around £2, while a meal for two comes in at around £15*. Tunisia and Bulgaria’s Black Sea resorts (Sunny Beach, Golden Sands and Nessebar) are similarly cheap.
For a city break, swap the likes of Paris or Rome for an Eastern European city, such as Prague, Warsaw or Budapest. A quick comparison between Paris and Budapest shows just how much cheaper it is to eat and drink in the east. For the Hungarian capital, you’re looking at just under £30 for a three-course meal for two people; in the City of Lights, it’s closer to £55*.
For long-haul, consider Indonesia (Bali) and Thailand – both make for great winter sun beach holidays.
Before you go anywhere, whether it’s Paris or Prague, dedicate a bit of time to researching your destination. Read reviews and articles (national newspaper travel sections and Time Out are good bets) on recommended cheap eats and good-value restaurants.
When you’re there, talk to locals about where they eat – it can be as simple as asking a hotel staff member about their favourite restaurant – and avoid eating near the main tourist attractions or busy squares – go back a few streets and you’ll find that prices tend to drop considerably. Also, having your main meal of the day at lunchtime, when many restaurants offer excellent value set menus, can help you save.
It might be hard to believe at the moment, but there are still some countries where sterling is strong.
Mexico (Cancun) and India (Goa) are excellent places for a good-value beach break, while South Africa and Brazil are worth considering if you’re after something more adventurous.
Additionally, the cost of living is very cheap in these countries: a meal out for two in Goa will cost you around £12, in Cancun around £23 and in Cape Town around £26.
While it’s not for everyone, an all-inclusive holiday allows you to lock in your food and drink costs by paying up front. As a result, you largely avoid potential currency volatility issues.
Head outside of the Eurozone and you’ll find some incredible deals to Turkey, Tunisia and Cancun. For example, you can get seven nights at a four-star hotel in Tunisia for as little as £300pp. Within it, the Costa Brava, Majorca, Rhodes and Corfu remain popular with Brits.
Go away in the shoulder season and you’ll be able to slash the price of your holiday. September, for example, is one of the cheapest summer months to travel, but you still get great weather.
Consider September to November or January to March for city breaks. Yes, it might be a little colder in some European cities, but with better prices and fewer crowds, the compromise is more than worth it. For example, you can get two nights in Berlin for as little as £65pp if you travel in September.
For families with school children, look to the very last week of the holidays, where prices tend to be best. Also, prices tend to be much more reasonable for October half term or at Easter, but the weather may not be as consistent.
Higher demand during school holiday periods usually means higher prices, so it’s a good idea to book you’re your holiday as early as possible. For example, there are currently holiday deals for Easter 2020 going for under £200pp.
Flying out and returning midweek is often cheaper than travelling at the weekend and Tuesday is widely touted as the departure day with the best prices.
The best thing to do is compare prices across a range different departure dates – you might be surprised how much you can save on one day versus another.
For example, depart on a Tuesday (September 17) for two nights in Amsterdam and you’ll get prices as low as £150pp. The same deal on the Friday jumps up to almost £200pp. You can see the difference at the top our search results page.
It’s also good to price up holiday options from different nearby regional airports in case there are savings to be had. For example, if you live in the northwest, you might want to look at Liverpool, Manchester and Leeds Bradford. If you’re in the Midlands, compare Birmingham and East Midlands.
For this approach, be sure to factor in any additional transport costs there may be in getting to a different airport.
MoneySavingExpert’s TravelMoneyMax tool allows you to compare exchange rates across a number of nearby outlets. You can usually get a very competitive rate by shopping around.
Avoid leaving it to the absolute last minute. Airports are notoriously terrible for money conversion and you will almost certainly get a bad rate here.
Most normal credit and debit cards are not designed to be used abroad. As result, any purchase you make can have big fees slapped on top – in some extreme examples, you could actually find you’re paying as much as 5.99% extra for using your card overseas**.
If you use your card in an ATM, you can also be hit with a withdrawal fee of up to 5% (or a minimum of £5 per withdrawal charge).
Dodge these unnecessary charges by getting a specialist credit card that you can use abroad. The best cards won't charge a transaction fee.
The Halifax Clarity Card is consistently rated as one of the best for travel spending and offers excellent rates. Obviously, always make sure you spend within your means and pay it off on time to avoid incurring any interest.
In terms of a debit cards, Starling Bank does not charge any fees for spending or withdrawing cash abroad. Their rates also happen to be excellent. Monzo has nofees for overseas spending (shopping, buying food etc.) but there is a £200 cap on fee-free money withdrawals (in any 30-day period) – a 3% fee applies above this.
If you are paying by card in a shop or restaurant overseas and you are offered the chance to pay in pounds, don’t.
Paying in sterling will cost you more as the retailer will determine the exchange rate – this is called Dynamic Currency Conversion – and it will not be in your favour. Always pay in the local currency. The same goes for ATM withdrawals.
*All beer and meal prices taken from Numbeo. They are accurate as of the time of writing.
** Based on a credit having a 2.99% transaction fee in addition to a 3% currency loading fee, which some banks may charge.
***All holiday prices were accurate at the time of writing.
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The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) provides valuable up-to-date travel advice for British citizens abroad. It is the best resource for reliable safety and security information. You can also find other important details, such as local laws, passport information and visa requirements. Stay safe abroad – check the FCDO before you travel.