08:36 16 May 2013
The countdown is on until the Whitsun half-term, with many schools up and down the country breaking up on May 24. And, if you are using the week off to get away with the kids, now’s the time to sort out all of your holiday extras.
Not only will being organised help to reduce any stress in the run-up to your trip, but you could save up to £750 by shopping around for everything from your holiday money and airport parking to your hire car – that’s enough to treat yourself to another mini break later in the year.
Here’s how to save…
Save £129.84 on holiday money – enough for return flights to Paris
It’s easy to leave buying your holiday money until the last minute but shopping around for it in advance will help you to save as much as £10 in every £100 you take away.
We compared rates when buying €1,500 from Heathrow and found a huge difference of £129.84 between the best buy online rate and grabbing it from the airport bureau de change.
For example, if you shopped around for euros using a site such as TravelSupermarket, €1,500 could cost you as little as £1,288.66 with FairFX with free Royal Mail Special Delivery on all orders over £750.
And, if you are willing to pick your currency up, the savings could be even greater so, if you have a company offering the service near you, this could be your best bet. On the day we checked, pre-ordering your €1,500 with ICE and picking it up at its Heathrow branch would set you back just £1,282.05.
At the other end of the scale, leaving buying your currency until you get to the airport can be a costly mistake. Buying €1,500 at the Travelex desk at Heathrow, for example, would cost you a huge £1,411.89.
But, if you’ve left it too late to arrange home delivery, all is not lost. Savings can still be made by pre-ordering your euros four hours or more before you want to pick them up from Travelex. If you went online to order your €1,500 for collection from the same desk, you would pay a much more appealing £1,299.83 – that’s a saving of £112.06 for a few minutes’ work.
Save £249.63 on your hire car – enough for two nights (with change) in a four-star Paris hotel
Having a hire car not only makes getting from the airport with children and your holiday bags that much easier, it will also give you the freedom to explore your destination. But costs can be eye-watering if you leave this purchase until you are at the airport. And, during school holidays when demand can outstrip supply, pre-booking is even more essential.
We looked at the price of a family people carrier from Palma de Mallorca airport this half-term (with pick up on May 25 and drop off on June 1) and saw huge differences.
For example, if you were to turn up to the airport, Hertz’s pay at location price would be £537.18 for a people carrier suitable for seven passengers. A quick search on TravelSupermarket, however, found people carriers for the same dates for as little as £287.55 – that’s a whopping difference of £249.63.
And, the story is similar if you want to rent a slightly smaller car such as the Ford C Max over half-term from the same airport – Hertz’s pay at location price would be £245.78 for a vehicle like this, while shopping around on TravelSupermarket brought back vehicles for just £150.09.
Save £82.43 on your travel insurance – enough for a night out while you’re away
If you’re going away, travel insurance is an essential – and can prove to be a godsend should anything go wrong. But it’s another area where you can make huge savings if you shop around to find the best policy for you.
For example, if you and the family are travelling to Turkey this half-term, a single-trip classic policy with the Post Office would cost £90.88 for a family of four. However, we found single-trip policies for as little as £8.45 for a family of four on TravelSupermarket – that’s a saving of £82.43 to squirrel away for your next holiday.
However, don’t be tempted to snap up the cheapest policy without checking that it is suitable for your family’s needs as this can be a false economy. Key areas to look out for when comparing travel insurance policies are your cover for medical expenses (TravelSupermarket recommends a policy with £2million cover), your baggage cover (we recommend a minimum of £1,500) and enough cancellation cover to pay for the cost of your trip. Pay close attention to the excesses charged too so you don’t get any nasty shocks should you be unlucky enough to make a claim.
And, if you and the family go away more than twice a year, even more savings can be made by taking out an annual policy – just be sure to check that it includes cover for all of the countries you plan to visit.
Save £91.95 on your airport parking – enough for a meal out for two while you’re away
Driving to the airport often seems like the easiest option to keep the cost of taxis down and to eliminate the stress of public transport. But, if you don’t pre-book your spot, your money-saving tactic can go horribly wrong.
For example, Heathrow increases the cost of drive-up parking during peak periods so turning up and leaving your car from May 25 until June 1 would cost you £163.90. If, however, you were to pre-book your spot on TravelSupermarket, prices could be as low as £71.95 – that’s less than half of the price and a saving of £91.95.
Know your baggage limits and save up to £200 – some spending money while you’re away
Whether you’re travelling hand luggage only to keep your costs down or are taking a hold bag away with you, make sure you know your airline’s allowances before you start to pack. Falling foul of these can be an expensive mistake, with Ryanair charging up to a huge £140 to check a hold bag in at the airport and £60 if your hand luggage exceeds the airline’s size or weight limits. Read more on how to avoid being caught out by airline extras in Clare Walsh’s blog post.
Other ways to save
If you’ve now got hooked on keeping your costs to a minimum, there are even more ways to save on your travels:
Please note: All prices were correct as of May 8, 2013 and mini break prices are for travel in September 2013.
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