But no matter how much you’ve prepared, there are always unexpected costs when going on holiday which can quickly mount up and leave you with less cash to enjoy the trip than you had anticipated. So, before jetting off, it’s worth looking at the top five unexpected costs of going away and how to avoid them:
The ticket to the sun may be cheap but the airlines have been charging for excess baggage for years. However, many of them are now charging for any checked-in baggage – not just the cases which are over the weight limit. Those fees range from under £10 all the way up to £30 on some of the cheaper airlines.
Excess baggage fees have been rising as well with some airlines now charging £10 per kilo over your baggage limit. Other items including music and sporting equipment also incur a fee with some carriers charging up to £80 for a musical instrument.
Don’t forget, too, that most airlines will only allow one piece of carry-on luggage and this must be below a certain size otherwise you will be charged for it or forced to check it in.
You can avoid these fees by using Case Luggage’s comprehensive baggage app Case2Fit which will tell you whether a particular case will fit an airline’s criteria as well as detailing every carrier’s baggage policies.
When you use your debit or credit card in an overseas ATM or to pay for something, you will be charged. Sometimes you will be charged twice. Your bank will convert the amount you withdraw into sterling and take a commission on the exchange rate. It will also levy a service fee on the transaction. If you don’t take precautions, you could end up spending £100 or more when you take out €1,000 in several withdrawals. When a foreign ATM asks you which currency to charge you in, you should always choose the currency of the country you are in because otherwise you will pay a hefty conversion fee.
You can avoid many charges altogether by using one of a number of specialist credit cards that do not have a sterling exchange fee. Some of them will, unlike most credit cards, not charge you for cash withdrawals at all.
Buying enough currency for your holiday before you leave remains the best bet for reducing foreign exchange charges. However, the recent fall in the value of the pound following the EU referendum has made all foreign currency more expensive for British holidaymakers. If you are concerned about this, some banks will allow you to order foreign currency well in advance of your holiday at that day’s rate and only pay it if you collect the money.
We’ve all heard the horror stories about this one. Until recently, it was common to read in the news about families charged four figure sums by their network providers because their children used their smartphones to download apps while on holiday. Thankfully, the EU has now capped mobile roaming charges and these will be banned entirely from next year. Until then, only Three has guaranteed free roaming across Europe (so long as you stay within your UK allowances). The other networks allow you to buy a special package which will give you free allowances up to a daily limit while you are away. Alternatively, you can buy a pay-as-you-go sim card in your destination country to avoid roaming charges altogether.
While free WiFi is now common throughout the UK and US, many hotels around Europe continue to charge for it. If you need internet and email access while you are away, ask your hotel whether it will charge for WiFi before you leave. Some hotels charge the equivalent of £10 a day for WiFi access meaning that a two-week holiday could end up being £140 more expensive than you bargained for. If you need to avoid these charges, there are still plenty of free WiFi points overseas – particularly in restaurants and cafés run by the larger multinational chains.
Charging it to your room
You’ll find that most hotels will allow you to charge all the sundries – lunch, dinner, drinks, movies, WiFi access, mini-bar and so on – to your room bill if you have used a credit card to check in. It may be tempting to take advantage of room service and order up a bottle of wine each evening, but it’s a racing certainty that there is going to be a significant mark-up on the price of the wine. It’s also likely that you won’t notice it until you come to check out and are confronted with several hundred pounds more of expenditure than you had anticipated.
Charging everything to your room is a sure-fire way of going well over your holiday budget. Make sure you avoid this by budgeting for your whole holiday – food and drink included – before you leave and then allocate a strict daily allowance. Pay for everything as and when you use it. Don’t store up trouble for the end of your stay.