Essential tips for saving money on holiday

Holly Thomas / 29 June 2015

Even if you bag a well-priced trip, there are plenty of things to catch us out - so here are some tips on how to make sure you don't rack up unnecessary bills on extras.

Cheap airport parking


Getting to the airport can be a stressful and expensive experience so it can make sense to drive and use airport parking. Prices can vary significantly so shop around. It's also crucial to book early.

As well as looking at the airport’s own website for costs, check out the prices listed on Holiday Extras which are usually up to 50% cheaper than going direct.


Pre-paid cards


Instead of using your credit or debit card while you’re away, you could load up a pre-paid card which is used in the same way with a chip and Pin. The exchange rates offered can be very competitive and if you choose the right card, you can save on charges.

The Saga Platinum card has no load fee worldwide, but charges two per cent (min £2) for cash machine withdrawals. There's no interest on those if you repay in full each month.


Mobile phone charges


Using overseas phone networks, known as roaming, means you can be hit with a huge bill for making and receiving calls, sending text messages and even picking up voice messages.

Always make sure you check the cost of using your phone in the country of your holiday and make a note. If you will need to use it while you’re away, organise a roaming package with your network before you go away – it will save you a packet.

Mobile phone operators are expected to start bringing out more competitive overseas packages in the next few months as the holiday season hots up.

If you’re going further afield and for longer, you can avoid your UK operator's charges by switching your sim card for a global or local sim.

Also, using the internet on your phone is likely to be hugely expensive unless you pre-arrange an overseas deal with your network first.


Car hire


Having a car abroad is a major plus but can really ramp up your holiday costs. Booking far in advance will get you the best prices, as well as comparing different companies. Hire a car through Hertz and as a Saga referral, you'll save 10% and receive a free additional driver.

Watch out for “super collision damage waiver” car hire rip-off. You could save a lot by using an insurance policy to cover the extras added on by rental firms at foreign airports – around £30 a week, compared to £49 for a whole year.


Cheap suntan lotion

Protecting your skin is terribly important whatever country you visit. Some premium brands might put you off stocking up on sun creams.

According to a Which? survey supermarket own brands – starting from just a few pounds – rank alongside pricier brands and in many cases offer best sun protection. With some internet browsing or even perusing the high street, there are plenty of bargains to be found so don’t grab the first thing you see – and don’t buy it at the airport where decent discounts are unlikely.


EHIC for free


The EHIC, or European Health Insurance Card, is free of charge and can get free or discounted medical care in all 27 EU countries, plus a few others. However there are some internet firms that charge to apply for one on your behalf. Many fall into this trap by typing “EHIC” into a search engine and following the first link they find.


Written by Holly Thomas, this article was first published on May 10, 2011. Holly's opinions are her own and for general information only. Always seek independent, professional, financial advice.

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.