PERSONAL FINANCE: Six ways to save on your summer holiday

Booked a getaway? Planning ahead can help you get the best value for money
Booked a getaway? Planning ahead can help you get the best value for money Booked a getaway? Planning ahead can help you get the best value for money

AS the summer holidays draw nearer, it pays to plan ahead to make sure you're getting the best deal.

Whether you've already booked a break, or are intending to make one in the coming weeks, here are six handy tips to save some cash:

1. Start a holiday savings pot

Even if you've already booked and paid for your summer getaway, you could still start a fund for your holiday spending money now. That way, you can contribute to it over a few monthly pay packets, rather than waiting until nearer the time, when it may be more tempting to put spending on credit.

The Government-backed MoneyHelper service has a budget planner tool that could help you identify how much you may be able to put away.

2. Make your travel money stretch further overseas

Buying travel money at the airport may be convenient, but it can also be significantly more expensive, so give yourself plenty of time beforehand to shop around for currency.

If you're buying currency online, consumer group Which? recommends taking into account any delivery or handling fees. It's also worth checking whether there's a minimum order threshold.

James Lynn, co-founder of Currensea, a travel debit card that allows people to spend directly from their existing current account when abroad, says many people may be unaware that paying in sterling when overseas could hammer their wallet.

He says: "The number one rule is you should always opt to pay in the local currency. This is an easy trick to avoid the poor rates and high costs you face when abroad."

Lynn adds that it's important to watch out for overseas ATM charges when withdrawing money.

If you haven't booked your holiday yet, you could also make your travel money further by being flexible over your destination.

For example, Post Office Travel Money recently suggested that falls in the value of the Egyptian pound against sterling could make Red Sea resorts a cost-effective choice for holidaymakers this year.

3. Save money on flights

If you fancy a trip but you don't mind where, flight comparison website Skyscanner has a "explore everywhere" option, to help holidaymakers check out a broad range of cost-effective deals.

Which? also suggests people could consider their options for flying to and from a country using different airlines, or even different airports, although this may eat into holiday time and could also mean additional local travel costs.

4. Staying in the UK? Save on a staycation

Previous research by Which? indicates that holidays in the North of England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland may work out cheaper, per person, per night, than the rest of England, although, of course, prices in individual locations will vary significantly.

But if you have set your heart on visiting a particular region, it may be worth swapping a popular town or city for somewhere less well-known nearby, to save money.

It could also be worth contacting accommodation providers directly, as well as browsing comparison websites.

If the property is big enough, inviting wider family or friends along could help to make the holiday cheaper per person.

5. Save on your travel insurance

Using a broker to find suitable cover could help to keep your insurance costs down. Some people may find it harder to find a suitable deal themselves, for example, if they have a pre-existing medical condition, or if they are elderly.

The British Insurance Brokers' Association (BIBA) has a Find Insurance service.

Graeme Trudgill, executive director at BIBA, says: "Insurance is as important as your suitcase - it provides financial protection against medical expenses, cancellation, missed departure and loss of passport, providing you with peace of mind.

"A broker will help you get the right cover for your needs at a competitive price. You can contact BIBA's Find Insurance Service on 0370 950 1790 to find a broker."

Taking out cover as soon as you book can also help if something goes wrong before the holiday takes place, for example, if you need to cancel.

6. Don't be caught out by "too good to be true" prices

If a holiday looks too much of a bargain, then it may be a scam.

Fraudsters advertising "cheap travel deals" may ask for payments via bank transfer, or use fake booking websites to obtain your personal information.

If you're unsure, do further research and look for independent reviews. Don't be pressured into booking quickly to avoid "losing out".

Check whether the company involved is a member of trade association ABTA (Association of British Travel Agents).

Holidaymakers taking flights, meanwhile, should check coverage under the ATOL (Air Travel Organiser's Licence) financial protection scheme.

Paying by credit card may also give you added protection if something goes wrong, as under the Consumer Credit Act, you could potentially put in a claim to the credit card company.