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The hidden costs of holidays and how to avoid them

Posted 03 June 2016 by Christine Walsh

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Are you planning a getaway for you and the family? Make sure you know the hidden costs and how to avoid them.

It’s that time of year when you might be thinking about getting away with the family. You’ve probably worked hard at getting the best deal on your travel and accommodation, but what about the hidden costs of holidays? 

We’ve put a list together of the main expenses that catch people out and push them over budget while they’re away. 

Eating and drinking out on all inclusive holidays

Having all the food and drink you want and knowing it’s already paid for is a tempting prospect. The problem is you can sometimes find that, while you’re away, you’re lured into eating out. If you think about it, each time you eat out on an all-inclusive holiday, you’re effectively paying for that meal twice. 

Before you book an all-inclusive deal, do some research into the hotel and see what other people are saying – you don’t want to end up staying somewhere with poor quality food which forces you to spend more on meals out. TripAdvisor is the place to go for hotel reviews – just type in the name of the hotel and you’ll be able to quickly see what other customers thought.

Extra activities and entertainment

When you book an all-inclusive deal, make sure you check what you’ve already paid for and what they expect you to fork out for when you get there. 

This is especially important if you’ve got children and want them to be able to enjoy kids clubs and entertainment. 

Whenever you go on holiday, make sure you set yourself a budget for how much you can afford to spend whilst you’re over there on food and other extras like activity clubs and entertainment. At least this way you’ll be able to put the brakes on your spending before it gets out of control. 

Travelling to and from and the airport

Depending on how close you live to the airport, this can be a significant cost that people forget to factor in. 

See whether you can call upon a good friend or family member who would be kind enough to take you there and back. It’s polite to offer some petrol money – but even this should end up being cheaper than getting taxis or driving there yourself and paying for parking. 

Getting the train or coach might also be cheaper options. Just make sure you take into account the extra time it will take to get there. 

If you have to drive yourself, make sure you save on the cost of parking at the airport by booking your spot as early as possible. 

Withdrawal charges

There tend to be some charges for withdrawing money abroad, especially if you use a credit card. Even if you use your debit card, you’ll normally pay something called a non-sterling transaction fee and a cash machine fee. 

Have a look at your spending budget and try to get all the money out that you need before you go, as it will end up cheaper in the long run or look at a prepaid travel card if you’re not comfortable with the idea of carrying all your cash around. 

Don’t change your money in the airport

If you wait till you’re in the airport to get your money changed, you’re likely to get a poor rate of exchange. Use this rate comparison tool to find the best deal on changing your money. 

Luggage charges

If you happen to go over the weight allowance for your luggage, the airline can charge you a fee. This will still apply even if someone else in your party hasn’t reached their allowance. 

Make sure you know how much you’re allowed before you pack your suitcase. You’ll be able to find the rules for each airline on their individual website. 

Roaming charges

In case you’re not sure, roaming charges kick in when your phone is detected on a network outside of the UK. You’ll end up with roaming charges even if you’re the one receiving the text, call or picking up a voicemail. Data roaming charges come into play when you use your internet abroad.

These charges are due to be scrapped by 2017, but until that time, it’s a good idea to avoid using your mobile for calls and texts on holiday whenever possible. 

If you need to use the internet, look for free Wi-Fi. Lots of hotels and cafes now offer this to their customers - just check with staff what the password is. You should make sure you switch roaming off on your phone’s settings to make sure you don’t start getting charged once you’re out of range for the Wi-Fi. 

Check whether your network also offers an add-on for when you’re abroad. With add-ons you pay a little extra and you get an allowance of data, texts and minutes for your holiday. 

If you’re struggling to see a point when you will be able to afford a holiday for you and your family because of problem debt, you might need expert help. Our advisors are trained to identify the root cause of problem debt and also what solutions might be suitable for you. There is also free and impartial money help available from the Money Advice Service

by Christine Walsh

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To find out more about managing your money and getting free debt advice, visit Money Advice Service, an independent service set up to help people manage their money.