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Savings tips for Christmas markets

20 November 2014 ( 28 February 2020 )

Read our guide to help you save money at European Christmas markets and bag those bargains, plus useful travel money, insurance and buying tips.

European Christmas market
Find out the best ways to save money at Christmas markets

With around 100 Christmas markets in Germany alone, and lots in countries such as France, Belgium, the Netherlands and Italy, many people head across the Channel every festive season to get into the Christmas mood and to buy gifts for family and friends, while indulging in festive food and drink.

But to make sure you stay in budget and save money while buying gifts at the Christmas markets, it’s worth planning yout trip carefully, and having a few tips up your sleeve to ensure you don’t overspend.

Here are five essential money-saving tips to help you save money at Christmas markets:

1. How to organise your travel money for your Christmas markets trips

The golden rule when organising your travel money for any trip is not to leave this until the last minute, as rates at airports tend to be some of the least competitive.

Instead, plan ahead and order your money online in advance.

You can then collect it locally before you head off, or, better still, take advantage of free home delivery if it’s offered.

Shop around for competitive exchange rates and look out for zero per cent commission.

2. Which cards should you use for buying goods at Christmas markets?

If you’re planning on taking a debit or credit card to Europe with you, along with cash, it’s worth using a card specifically designed for overseas use.

That way, you can avoid getting stung by a range of hidden fees such as conversion charges, purchase fees and withdrawal fees.

Consider choosing a pre-paid credit/currency card – pre-loaded with a maximum sum of money you’re prepared to spend – as a way of keeping a handle on your trip budget.

Many of these offer competitive exchange rates on foreign currency, and some also come without the sting of unwanted charges.

3. How to pay for goods at Christmas markets

While some stall-holders will take cards, in most instances, cash is king, so make sure you have notes and coins on you.

But be careful about carrying large sums of cash, as there’s a risk of pickpockets operating in busy markets. Always keep your bag zipped up and secured, and across the front of your body. Also take care when using cash machines.

4. How to haggle at Christmas markets

One of the advantages of paying by cash is the fact you get the opportunity to barter.

That said, make sure you have some low denomination notes so you don’t end up flashing too much cash.

Try learning a bit of the local language, as this can be a big help when you’re haggling. And don’t be afraid to stand your ground.

Equally, if the vendor won’t drop the price, see if they’ll include something extra for free instead.

5. How to get the best out of the Christmas markets - a quick checklist:

* Do some research in advance so you can wander around the Christmas markets armed with a bit of knowledge about the types of arts and crafts on offer - and what they should cost.

* Make sure you know the exchange rate, so you don’t end up over-paying.

* Find out if the place you’re visiting have particular specialist souvenirs - and ask locals for recommendations on where to buy them at the best price.

* Set a budget for your Christmas market shopping, and make sure you stick to it.

Quirky Nordic Christmas traditions you never knew about

How to choose the right travel insurance policy for your Christmas markets trip

When choosing cover, never buy on price alone, as cheap policies may have a high excess or be riddled with exclusions.

The key is to look carefully at the features offered and the service that comes with it.

As a guide, you should look for a policy offering at least £2 million of medical cover for Europe, £1million personal liability, enough cancellation to cover the total cost of your holiday, up to £2,500 for lost, stolen or damaged baggage, and £250 for cash.

Here are seven travel insurance tips for your trip:

1. Check if the policy offers cover for pre-existing medical conditions.

2. Check if there is an upper age limit to the travel insurance cover you choose.

3. Note that a good policy will offer cover for “end supplier failure”. This will protect you should you book your own trip, rather than a package trip that is ATOL-protected.

4. If you’re buying cover specifically for your trip to the European Christmas markets, consider a Europe-only policy, as this will be cheaper than a worldwide policy.

5. If you’re likely to go abroad more than once a year, think about buying an annual policy, as this should cost less than several single-trip policies.

6. Remove any features on your travel policy that are duplicated on your home cover. For example, items such as phones, cameras and tablets may already be covered under personal possessions away from home.

7. If you’re travelling as a couple, see if there are discounts available for booking together.

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Quirky Nordic Christmas traditions you never knew about


The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated. The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.