Here are five of the most common pitfalls to avoid.
1. Buying your holiday money at the airport
Passport? Check. Tickets? Check. Luggage? Check. Kids? Check. You think you’ve got it all ticked off the list - until you get to cash.
Aargh. You’ve forgotten to get the Euros/dollars/whatever that you’ll need for your trip.
So, you get to the airport and head straight for the bureau de change.
Buy your foreign currency at the airport and you’ll get stung. Numerous surveys have shown that time and again, some of the biggest names in foreign currency exchange offer poor value or money at the airport.
Airport bureaux de change tend to charge commission, which can add a hefty cost to the bill.
The latest survey, by MoneySupermarket.com, shows that if you leave it until the last minute to get your foreign currency at the airport bureau de change you could easily end up paying 10% more than you need to.
So make sure foreign currency is at the top of your list of pre-holiday things to do.
2. Using your mobile abroad
Some 18 million of us will take our phone abroad this year, but we’ll pay a hefty price for doing so. The average monthly mobile phone bill shoots up by £12.75 when you use it abroad.
The cost of calls and texts is far more than at home – and most importantly, far more expensive than most people realise.
In a recent survey, 33% of people thought it costs less than 50p a minute to make calls abroad. The least you actually pay is 71p a minute, unless you’ve pre-arranged a bolt-on package with your mobile operator before you jet off.
41% of people said they reckon it also costs less than 50p a minute to receive a call, when it’s actually 52p or more. And 35% believe it costs less than 20p to send a text when it will cost them 33p on any network abroad.
Send just 30 texts and you’ve spent at least £4.20 more than you realise.
3. Taking too much luggage
With low-cost airlines now regularly hammering passengers for excess baggage it’s a really simple way to rack up your holiday costs – before you’ve even got on holiday.
Baggage allowances are not new, they’ve always been around. But they have got a lot lower in recent years.
And going over them can add some serious expense to your costs.
Take three pieces of luggage that are deemed overweight and at £25 for the first case, and £50 for the other two you’ll have to stump up £125. And some countries even add tax.
So pop them on the scales and pack wisely if you want to spend your cash on sangria rather than sneaky airport taxes.
4. Travelling during the school holidays
If you’ve got kids of school age there’s not a lot you can do; except risk a £50 fine and a ticking-off from the head teacher. But if you aren’t confined to travelling in the school holidays, then don’t.
Holiday packages, flights and accommodation can double in price during the school holidays – whether it’s the long summer break, or October half-term. So plan wisely and avoid paying more than you need to.
5. Going all-inclusive
It might sound like a fab way to keep to your budget, but if you’ll end up eating out most days – either because you’re off on day trips, you’re at the beach, or you just get sick of the same old, same old and want to eat somewhere else for a change, all-inclusive packages can turn out to be false economy.
The same applies to pre-paid meal vouchers. If you can’t get a table, your plans change or you just fancy eating somewhere that doesn’t accept them, you’re losing money.
So be realistic and make sure you don’t fall into the pre-paid trap that will only mean you fork out more in the end.