Booking a getaway abroad can be a stressful process. However those small details that you’re stressing over could be helping to make your holiday run cheaper and smoother. Most travel organising mistakes come from failing to plan ahead. Here are some of the biggest and most costly blunders and how to avoid them.
Paying for airport parking
Parking in any airport is expensive and could add extra unexpected costs to your holiday. You can usually save costs by booking ahead rather than paying on the day, but the best way to save costs is to not to use airport parking at all. You may be able to find a free or cheap place to park nearby. For example, there are sites in which you can hire driveways for parking for a small fee. You can then order a taxi from this parking location to the airport to save having to lug your stuff – taxi fares should be cheap for travelling a small distance.
Alternatively, you may wish to not bring your car at all. There may be a local train network that gets you to the airport for cheap. You might even be able to get a lift off of a family member or friend. Pay them a small amount of money for their services – it may still be far cheaper than any other method.
Ignoring currency conversion rates
You can spend extra money by not shopping around for the best conversion rate. Generally speaking, you’ll always get a bad rate at your home airport. You may however be able to get a cheap rate at the airport you’re flying to. With currencies such as the Euro, you may be better off shopping online to find the lowest transaction fee and ordering your currency before you go. In most cases, talk to a travel broker as they will be able to advise you on the best course of action.
Whilst some countries may accept dollars, it’s generally always better to pay in the country’s currency rather than your own. Be careful of paying on card too or using ATMs in that foreign country as the transaction fee may be high.
Going over the baggage weight restriction
A bag that goes over the weight limit may require having to pay extra to get it on the plane. Always look into the weight restriction and weigh your bag before you get to the airport. Finding out that a bag is too heavy at home may then allow you to pack less or distribute some belongings into another family member’s suitcase. You can buy special luggage weighing devices online for cheap.
Not checking your phone contract
Make sure that you know how much texts and calls cost you abroad to avoid racking up a huge phone bill. Generally the biggest cost will be internet data. If you can survive without it, turn off data roaming and log in to local Wi-Fi instead. Some countries now offer free data roaming to certain providers, although in many cases this isn’t unlimited, so still use your data frugally.
Be very wary of downloading things onto your phone as these are likely to cost your fortune abroad. If you need maps to navigate or translation tool, download these before you go. Downloading also may put you at a security risk in some countries.
Missing out on deals through group indecision
Going abroad with friends or family members that don’t live with you can be a fun experience. However, it takes a lot more organisation. There’s nothing worse than finding a brilliant deal but missing out because you can’t get hold of certain members of the holiday, or someone hasn’t got the money, or someone has lost their passport.
With group holidays, its best off to first establish a budget that everyone can afford. Then all meet up and look for deals together. Aim to meet up and book the holiday there and then or at a new meeting date if people need time to think about it. Get everyone to bring their passports in case you need to fill in details. A Facebook holiday group may be good for keeping everyone in the loop.
Pulling out on a half-paid holiday
If disaster strikes and you suddenly find yourself unable to pay the remainder of a holiday, think twice before cancelling. You may be able to claim back a deposit, which could then be money lost. Consider a payday advance that could get you the money you need to pay for the rest of the holiday, whilst also being able to pay for the other costs in your life. Such loans generally carry a lot of interest, but may not be as much as a deposit – especially on a big family holiday.
Forgoing travel insurance
You should always spend money on travel insurance. Without it, you may have to pay for another flight in the event of a cancellation, you may have to pay reparations for lost baggage and you may have to pay medical costs if you have an accident and end up in hospital. Travel insurance may even be able to offer compensation if you cancel the holiday yourself. Different schemes will offer different things, so it’s always worth shopping around for travel insurance. If you pay for insurance before anything else, you may also be able to claim back on early reparations such a deposit which you wish to claim back.
Forgetting to print off travel documents
Any documents that you are emailed should be printed off and taken with you. This could involve flight details, documentation for a Visa, a receipt for a hotel booking, travel insurance documentation and any vehicle insurance/license documentation if you happen to be hiring a car. Whilst most companies store information digitally now, there may still be some rare cases where there’s a digital error and somebody wants physical proof. Not having this physical proof might disallow you from driving a hire car you’ve already paid for, staying at a hotel you’ve paid for or even getting medical care through an insurance scheme you’ve taken out.
In some cases it may simply be handy as a point of reference. You may be able to check flight details, find the address of the hotel you’re staying at or being able to reference someone’s name you booked with.
Not checking your passport expiry date!
Of course, the most important documentation you need when travelling abroad is a passport. Forget this and you’re not going anywhere. It’s likely everyone will be shouting ‘have you got your passport’ twenty times on the day, giving you a chance to go back and collect it if you do forget. However, there are other important things to check beforehand.
For example, you won’t be able to travel on an expired passport. Some airlines may not even let you travel on a passport that has less than six months left. Get this renewed early as ordering a new passport takes time. There are fast track services, but they cost more money and may involve travelling to a passport office in person.