BY JOHN ELLIS, FINANCIAL ADVISOR
It seems that, despite inflation, rising mortgage rates, food and energy costs, Irish people are more determined than ever to spend their hard-earned cash or what’s left of it on having fun in the sun with demand for flights and holiday packages back to pre-pandemic levels.
Last week we looked at the necessity of travel insurance that, in the event of a problem, you are covered. This week we look at some ideas to enable you to have a relatively inexpensive and cheerful holiday as we will all agree that at some stage we need a break away from the hum-drum of everyday life, our spirits lifted and build some memories as the days begin to shorten.
Eoin Clarke at Switcher.ie says: “Everyone needs a break, and a holiday abroad can really lift the spirits but, with everyday costs still rising, it pays to do your homework and plan to get the best deals and reduce holiday spending.
“Cutting back doesn’t mean less fun, but getting things like insurance, mobile roaming and travel money sorted in advance and being flexible about when and where you travel will make your holiday money go further,” he says.
It’s tempting to book a foreign holiday on impulse but take time to explore choices before you buy. Comparison websites and travel portals like SkyScanner or BudgetTravel.ie can help you compare costs and find holiday bargains. Start your research early and set up price alerts for flights and accommodation so you get the best deals first.
Being flexible and open-minded is the key to a great value holiday and opens new horizons. Consider self-catering, travel midweek or off-peak and avoid cities or busy resorts. Staying off the beaten track or booking out of season saves money, widens your choice, and means you’ll get a more genuine cultural experience.
Check out discount platforms like Groupon and Living Social for hotel discounts and travel deals. Look for loyalty programs to earn points and redeem them against future bookings or exclusive travel perks. Check your credit cards provider as some offer travel rewards too.
Most people are happy to travel cashless, so consider a prepaid or digital account card for spending. It’s safe, simple, and mobile banking apps make it easier than ever to keep track of your holiday spending. Prepaid cards ensure you stick to a preset budget, and digital accounts like Revolut, N26 and Wise offer low or no fee foreign transactions and competitive exchange rates.
But if you feel more comfortable having a certain amount of cash to hand make sure to order it in advance and consider locking in the best exchange rates for optimal savings. Remember airport bureau de change should be your last resort as they have higher rates whereas An Post for example offer far better rates.
Avoid getting stung by data roaming charges. Travelling in Europe means your mobile call plan covers capped data, calls, and texts at no extra cost. Outside Europe is a different matter so don’t exceed your data roaming cap. Find out about international add-ons and bundles for the cheapest way to use your phone abroad or use local SIM card and Wi-Fi hotspots.
Download what you need in advance to your smart device. Most holiday makers store their holiday details, travel tickets and insurance docs in the cloud but you may only get a patchy signal or Wi-Fi, and not be able to access documents at a critical time. It also makes sense to download films, music and maps at home reducing the risk of costly downloads. Disable your background apps, turn off data roaming and/or switch to flight mode.
Buy ‘hire car excess’ independently as renting a car abroad can be expensive but sometimes vital if you’ve booked a remote destination or plan to tour. Shop around and reserve as soon as possible to get the best prices. Rental car firms may offer optional add-ons at the rental desk to cover the ‘excess’ charge, but it’s often overpriced with hidden clauses, so consider buying this insurance independently before you go.
One of the joys of holidays is splashing out on restaurant meals and takeaway food but it can become very expensive especially if you are on a budget. At least before going to the airport pack a lunch and fill your water bottle to avoid hefty airport prices.
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