If you’re looking forward to a winter break in the next few months, make sure you’ve budgeted for any unexpected expenses that might crop up while you’re away.
It’s all too easy to get caught out by hidden costs while travelling, which is why we’ve put together this list of some of the most common holiday charges that trip people up, and how you can avoid them.
1. Car hire excess
When you hire a car to use on holiday, the rental company will normally offer you a car hire excess insurance policy along with it, hoping you will just accept it as the easiest option.
More often than not these policies are extremely expensive, but if you don’t have cover, then you’ll have to fork out an excess often totalling hundreds, or sometimes thousands, of pounds if the car is damaged or stolen.
Rather than taking out insurance from the hire company, you should shop around for standalone car hire excess insurance from specialist providers. The cover is not only likely to be better value than the cover offered by rental providers, it will probably be more inclusive, and cover more parts of the car. Car hire excess insurance for a single trip can usually be bought on a day-by-day basis for just a few pounds.
For more information and a list of recommended providers, read our article Your guide to buying car hire excess insurance.
2. Checking in baggage
You’ll usually have to pay extra to check your baggage into the hold on a flight, but you will generally pay a lot less if you sign up online in advance, rather than on the day you fly.
Airlines will also charge you extra if your checked luggage goes over the weight that you have paid for, or if your hand baggage exceeds specified size limits, so it’s worth weighing your suitcase and measuring any hand luggage after packing if you have any doubts.
3. Extra charges from your hotel or AirBnB
Obvious fees you might be charged by accommodation providers when you’re away include use of a hotel minibar or covering damages if you break something, but that’s not all you have to look out for.
Make sure WiFi is included in the cost of your hotel – normally it will be a complimentary service, but some hotels will charge you extra, with some even charging at a daily rate.
Hotels and self-catering accommodation can also charge you extra for checking in early or checking out late, so if you think you’ll be there ahead of schedule, take it as an opportunity to kill some time before checking in, and make sure to check out promptly on your last day. Hotels and self-catering accommodation can also charge if you have extra people over for the night, since you tend to pay per head, so it’s worth playing it safe and clearing it with your host first if you’re thinking of having someone to stay who you didn’t mention when you originally booked.
AirBnB hosts usually charge a one-off cleaning fee on top of their nightly rate, to cover the costs of preparing the house before or after guests stay. The host sets this themselves, so it’s worth comparing other options if you feel a particular host is overcharging for cleaning.
4. Roaming charges
‘Roaming’ is the term for using your mobile phone on an overseas network, which generally incurs additional charges. The UK previously fell under EU “Roam like at Home” rules that allowed mobile customers to roam in other EU countries at no extra cost, but since Brexit, these regulations no longer apply, meaning many mobile companies are bringing these charges back.
If you are travelling in the EU or further abroad, it’s worth checking what your provider’s roaming policies are. Making use of WiFi rather than foreign mobile networks when you need to use your phone can help you avoid roaming charges, or your provider might offer a roaming bundle that will let you use these networks for less.
For more tips on avoiding being caught out by roaming charges, read our article How to save on mobile costs when you go on holiday.
5. Being double-insured
When it comes to travel, you really want to avoid being double-insured. This refers to when you buy travel insurance while already having a policy in place. This can happen if you have an active policy that you aren’t aware of – for example, travel insurance can come packaged with your bank account, credit card, or with the holiday itself.
Not only does this make the process of claiming much slower and more complicated, since you are dealing with two insurance companies rather than one, but each of them will only have to pay you a certain share of the full amount, even if you’ve been paying the full premiums to both. In other words, you will have paid double for the same insurance.
Find out more about travel insurance in our articles Do I need travel insurance? and Everything you need to know about travel insurance.
6. Airport parking
It’s easy to forget to factor in the cost of airport parking, but this can be a huge expense. You’ll pay almost £90 for two weeks in a long stay car park in the UK on average, with airports like London City, Manchester and Heathrow charging well over £200 in the peak summer months, with costs rising the later you book.
You may be much better off taking a train or coach to the airport, or being dropped off by a friend or taxi. Be aware, however, that many airports now charge a fee for using their designated drop-off zones, which tax drivers will add to their bills.
7. Currency exchange
Do your research before travelling and make sure you don’t get caught out by the cost of obtaining or paying in local currency. Using a cash machine abroad tends to incur a fee, as does using your credit card in another country – check if your bank is part of a network with any international partners to see if there are machines you can withdraw from at no extra cost, or if you’re paying by credit card, use one with low or no fees for overseas use, such as the Halifax Clarity card.
Make sure that when you withdraw cash or pay for goods using a debit or credit card that you always choose the local currency option rather than pounds, as this will cost you less as you won’t pay hefty conversion charges.
Read our article Travel money: where can I find the best exchange rates? for the best places to exchange your money.