With an estimated six million of us taking a break over the extended Queen’s Jubilee bank holiday weekend alone, perhaps it’s time to start thinking about the big get-away and how to get the most out of your precious time off.
– Buy travel (and cancellation) insurance before you book
There’s no need to automatically accept the deal that comes with the trip – try hunting around the internet. If you travel more than once a year, it can be worth buying annual travel insurance. Either way, you would be covered if you or a family member is ill and can’t go. If you’re visiting Europe, double check that everyone in your party has a valid (and free) European Health Insurance Card, which should get you treatment in state-run hospitals at local rates.
– Get a specialist overseas credit card
Most cards will surcharge you for use abroad but these don’t, which helps to stretch your cash. To qualify, you’ll need a good credit score, so check your credit report before you apply and make sure it’s up to date and accurate, as lenders will take information from it when they calculate your credit rating. Watch out for clerical errors, such as duplicate accounts, make sure you’re registered to vote at your current address and shut any redundant accounts while you’re at it. You can see your Experian credit report for free with a 30-day trial of CreditExpert – and you can order your free Experian Credit Score at the same time to get an idea of how a lender will regard your application.
– Set aside your travel spending
You need a budget or you might simply tell yourself that holidays are for treats and splurge, so try to work out what you can reasonably afford and save towards it – a few pounds a week can make all the difference. You might want to take out a prepaid card and load it with your day-to-day spending. Leave the credit card in the safe at the hotel – that way it’s around for emergencies but you’ll be spared temptation.
– Organise flights, airport parking and car hire early
Last minute discounts are rarely available in peak holiday season, so hit the price comparison sites for your flights and consider different routes or days of the week (mid-week is usually cheapest, as most businesspeople travel on Mondays or Fridays and holidaymakers fly at weekends). Try to avoid turning up at the airport or car hire desk and taking the first thing that’s available – it will cost you far less if you look around and book well in advance.
– Sort out your wardrobe
Many of us have holiday clothes that are tucked away in the back of the wardrobe and brought out way too late to check that they still fit or will work for the destination. If they don’t, the result is expensive, 11th hour panic buying in the airport or at the destination. So lay out everything you think you might take a few weekends before your departure date, make sure favourites are clean and altered if necessary, then it might be worth filling any gaps in the mid-season sales.