6 financial pitfalls to avoid when booking your 2018 holidays

12th Jan 18 | Lifestyle

Desperate to get a trip in the diary? Read these tips before handing over your cash.

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With 2018 signalling a fresh start, many of will be thinking about planning our getaways, to bring a ray of sunshine to the gloom of the winter months.

But while you may be dreaming of an exciting escape, when making your plans, make sure you don’t fall foul of a holiday pitfall that could leave a serious dent in your pocket.

Here are 6 holiday pitfalls to avoid, which could stop you spending more than you need to…

1. Don’t rule out destinations where your money may go further

Travel money expert FairFX says currency shouldn’t be an afterthought – choosing a destination with a better exchange rate could spell savings when it comes to forking out for accommodation, shopping and dining out.

FairFX suggests looking at where the pound has performed well over the long-run to find destinations where your travel budget could go further. It says sterling has fared particularly well against currencies in Argentina, Nicaragua and Costa Rica over the past year, for example. Destinations such as Sri Lanka, Laos, Indonesia and Hong Kong are also generally offering UK travellers better value compared with a year ago.

Ian Strafford-Taylor, chief executive of FairFX, says: “If the Brexit trade talks have some positive momentum in 2018, then we may see sterling improve against the euro. However, if Brexit negotiations impact on sterling creating another rocky year, travellers may have to look further afield at destinations where countries have performed better in the long run.”

2. Don’t forget to plan how you buy your currency

“Regardless of your holiday destination, there’s plenty of steps to follow to make sure that when you want to buy currency, you get the very biggest bang for your buck,” Ian adds. “This includes considering exchange rates before you book, tracking rates so you buy when they’re at their strongest, as well as avoiding travel money traps, such as buying currency at the airports and being hit with credit and debit card fees.”

3. Don’t be rushed into booking a deal without checking out whether it really is a ‘bargain’

Some holiday ads may boast special ‘limited-time offers’, which could encourage you to snap up what they are offering without checking whether you could be getting a better deal.

But consumer group Which? says that while tight deadlines, emotive language and countdowns may rush us into making a decision, it might not turn out to be the right one.

Rory Boland, Which? travel editor, says: “Compare prices with other holiday companies and travel agents to check savings are genuine.”

4. Don’t risk it by travelling without insurance

Travelling abroad uninsured can cost thousands if a trip goes wrong.
According to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), nearly three-quarters (72%) of people aged over-55 plan to travel abroad in 2018 and half (50%) of these have a pre-existing medical condition.

A European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) provides access to state medical care in the European Economic Area – but does not cover other costs, such as bringing the patient back to the UK, or additional accommodation costs in-country.

The FCO says holidaymakers should research the appropriate travel insurance options and make sure they give a detailed and accurate medical history to insurers.

5. And don’t just assume you’re covered

Just because you have some form of insurance, don’t just assume it will cover your particular trip without checking. Research from financial information business Defaqto shows that the level of protection for cruise holidays, for example, varies considerably. Only 58% out of single trip policies, and 61% of annual policies it researched cover cruise holidays as standard.

Brian Brown, head of insight at Defaqto, says: “Today’s modern cruise ships cater for every taste with celebrity speakers, specialist classes such as gourmet cooking and wine tasting, as well as traditional sight-seeing. Yet a cruise holiday is very different to a holiday on the shore and has very different risks.” Similar research from Defaqto previously found that only 12% of single trip travel insurance policies it looked at cover winter sports as standard, while less than one in five (18%) annual policies include winter sports cover as standard.

6. Finally, don’t forget to pack your insurer’s contact details

When you go away, make sure you take note of your insurer’s emergency phone number. That way, if something happens, you can call your insurer first for help.

© Press Association 2018