With Christmas coming up fast, many bargain-hunters will be heading to Christmas markets in mainland Europe and in the UK to enjoy some festive food and drink – not to mention some serious shopping.
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But to make sure you stay in budget and save money while buying gifts at the Christmas markets, it’s worth planning your travel money carefully, and having a few tips up your sleeve to ensure you don’t overspend.
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Here are five 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 the airport 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, alongside 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.
You might also want to consider a prepaid currency card; this is a card you load with currency before you travel.
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. 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.
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Try learning a bit of the local language, as this can be a big help when you’re haggling, and don’t be afraid of standing your ground.
Equally, if the vendor won’t drop the price, see if they’ll include something extra for free instead.
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5. How to get the best out of the Christmas markets – a four-point 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 has a particular “take-home” souvenir – and ask locals for recommendations on where to buy it at the best price.
- Set a budget for your Christmas market shopping, and make sure you stick to it.
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