Perfect winter getaways at the right price

TD Editor

With the cost-of-living crunch set to worsen as winter approaches and temperatures plummet while heating bills soar, many will wonder if they can afford mid-term and Christmas breaks – just as they’ve regained the freedom to travel post-covid. But just as there are ways to tighten the purse strings at home, there are also things people can do to save for holidays and while they’re there, whether it’s soaking up the sun on a European beach, taking a weekend city break or enjoying a staycation somewhere in Britain, according to a number of travel and personal finance experts.

It’s all the more important to get the right travel and accommodation deal, and look after your pennies while on holiday, given warnings from airlines such as Ryanair and others that fuel-cost increases due to the war in Ukraine is leading to higher fares.

Simple travel tips that make the world of difference
Just doing something like putting your computer or mobile device into private mode stops booking sites from tracking what you’re doing online and so you stand a better chance of getting the best fares, without them shooting up, says Nick Drewe, discount expert and founder of money-saving site We Thrift.

“Booking sites will often track your browsing habits, to see how many times you check rates for particular dates, and may increase the price of holiday packages so you feel the urgency to book,” he says.  Drewe advises travellers to do the legwork themselves, instead of relying on tour companies to put a holiday together, because their bank balance may end up better off.

“When booking a holiday, it may feel like the easier option to book flights, hotels and transfers as a package, but by checking comparison websites, you may find you can secure a better deal on your flights,” he says. And if Chrome is your browser, says Drewe, add the extension CheaperThere, which aims to find the best prices for flights and hotels – “Our users, on average, save USD 31 per booking,” claims the service.

Watch out with your spending money
While you can easily withdraw cash from ATMs when abroad, you might not be aware of hefty fees that are often slapped onto such transactions, either by your bank or the ATM owner, says Marcin Starkowski of financial firm Conotoxia. “When withdrawing euros in a country with a common currency, the ATM may offer to settle the transaction in the currency of the tourist’s home country, using its own exchange rate. Such a rate is almost always significantly less favourable than that offered by multi-currency platforms,” he says.

“So when withdrawing funds abroad, pay close attention to the messages displayed on the screen and do not agree to the DCC service – the dynamic currency conversion.” Taking something like a multi-currency card with you on holiday can help you avoid big charges, and look out for free ATM withdrawals, said Starkowski. He advises holidaymakers to avoid buying currency at rip-off airport exchanges, instead ordering their cash in advance from their bank, and that paying at your destination with a debit card may incur extra charges.

“These are the least cost-effective ways to pay abroad. Land-based exchange offices very often offer unfavourable exchange rates. The more popular the location, the higher the spread – the difference between the purchase and sale price of the currency. Anyone who has tried to exchange currency at least once – for example in Prague’s Old Town – has learned this,” he said.

‘Roam Like Home’
While Britain has left the European Union, and most UK phone networks no longer provide free roaming for calls and data when in the EU, some still do. Lebara UK is one of them, and its boss, Rajesh Dongre, says that with everyday prices hitting the roof, the last thing Britons want is to be landed with a huge roaming bill when they return from holiday.

“The British people are feeling the cost-of-living crunch hard and are looking for ways to cut costs, without compromising on the quality of service they are used to. At Lebara, we believe staying connected should be simple and affordable,” he said. By purchasing a cheap SIM-only deal ahead of their trip, people can make calls and use the internet in the EU without additional charges and with no worries about enormous bills, said Dongre.

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