Tuesday, 19 July 2011 11:45 AM
Many people book a budget holiday only to return home to find a much larger bill than they expected. Holiday extras, such as phone bills, baggage allowances and cash withdrawal fees are often overlooked, until the time comes for the credit card to make an appearance…
Follow these handy tips and you should find that you can keep your budget holiday cheap, without the nasty surprises:
1. Mobile Phones: Check roaming charges with your mobile network provider before jetting off, if you really can’t live without your phone. If you’re a smartphone user – turn off your internet data roaming charges.
This is one of the biggest ‘bill-shock’ causes, especially with more and more people owning smartphones. According to a survey by Carphone Warehouse, four out of five holidaymakers (81 per cent) have been charged up to £100 more than their standard monthly payment as a result of mobile phone use in a foreign country.
Even if you don’t plan on using your phone and are just turning it on sporadically to check messages, you’ll be (usually unwittingly!) registering your phone onto a local network, meaning you’ll be billed accordingly at overseas rates, including being charged when answering the phone and receiving a voicemail message.
There is some good news, however. From next summer (July 2012) mobile phone companies will have to cap the amount they charge for overseas data roaming and holidaymakers will also be able to switch to other providers for their overseas roaming, , according to EU telecoms commissioner Neelie Kroes.
The answer? Ask yourself whether you really need your phone. If not, then keep it off. The same goes for using internet on your phone. Is it really necessary to update your friends on Facebook whilst away? Can they wait until you get home to hear about your holiday adventures? Turn off your data roaming charges to avoid your email and social media updates.
If you do plan on using it, check the rates before you go so you can prepare when and where to use it and what it will cost you. Check out your networks’ roaming packages, which cuts the cost of using your phone abroad significantly. You can also buy a cheap local SIM card to use whilst away. You will need to check that your phone is unlocked (check this with your mobile phone provider) in order to do this.
If you haven’t managed to do this before you go, there is one simple trick that can save you a handful of cash: make sure to switch your mobile’s voicemail off before travelling!
2. Cash withdrawal fees: Opt for a pre-paid currency card, which allows you to control exactly what you are spending. They don’t charge hefty cash withdrawal fees, like debit or credit cards, and you also avoid the unfavourable exchange rates at airports and on the high street.
Pre-paid currency cards are an excellent alternative to bringing your debit or credit card abroad. They work like pay-as-you-go mobile phones and travellers simply have to load them with currency before they travel and if required, top them up while away. Like your debit card, you can use them to take cash out from ATM’s and they are Chip & PIN secure. Some of the main pre-paid currency card providers include Mastercard, MyTravelCash, and Travelex.
My Travel Cash, as an example, offers pre-paid cards in US dollars and euro currencies. Providing a fixed exchange rate, holidaymakers can get 5 to 10 per cent more money than offered at Bureau de Changes at airports. My Travel Cash has also scrapped its ATM cash withdrawal fees altogether, avoiding the holiday worry of hidden withdrawal fees.
Is a prepaid card the right option for you? This guide from Lending Expert goes into greater detail and discusses the pros and cons: https://www.lendingexpert.co.uk/a-guide-to-prepaid-cards-for-travelling-abroad/
3. Overweight baggage: Check the airline’s baggage weight limits before you leave and weigh your baggage yourself before travelling to the airport (especially before your return journey!).
Overweight baggage is a common cause of extra fees, especially on holidaymakers’ return journeys when their baggage is often bursting at the seams with souvenirs, presents and impulse buys. Holidaymakers rarely factor this in when packing for their holiday.
If you know you’re a shopping-lover – make sure you leave room in your case and bring generously-sized hand luggage; remember it has to comply with hand luggage the size restrictions and you are only allowed one item.
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