With the festivities of Christmas and New Year now been and gone, January is often the time we start looking for, and booking, holidays.
Whether you want to overcome the January blues or have something to look forward to during the wintery months ahead, many holiday companies offer discounted rates if you book early in the year. With holidays, though, come hidden charges, so we’ve put a quick guide together so you know what to look out for.
Look out for unexpected costs when booking your flights
There are bargain flights out there to be had; however, it’s worth shopping around before committing to buy, as many airlines don’t show all the costs upfront. There are lots of different low-cost airlines to choose from, flying all over Europe and further afield, but you may sometimes be best looking at the more established providers too - like British Airways, who have their own low-cost flight finder - as they often also offer really good deals.
Once you find a good deal, check for the hidden charges. There’s things like seat selection, which is important if you’re travelling as a family as you may all want to sit together, and then food and drink costs too. And it’s really rare to find a budget airline that won’t charge you for taking a big suitcase with you, so you’ll need to take this extra cost into consideration.
You’ll find that each airline and airport has a different charge, which often isn’t included upfront – that’s why it’s worth shopping around. Some good news is that if you’re flying with youngsters, you will now save at least £13 a child as Air Passenger Duty has been abolished for children aged 2 or over, but under 12, for flights departing from the UK after 1st May 2015.
When you’re ready to pay for your flights, check whether the option to buy travel insurance has been pre-selected for you, as you may find it cheaper elsewhere. Car hire and hotel options may also be included in the booking process, but again, you may be able to get these cheaper elsewhere, so shop around.
If you’re planning to pay on a credit card, many holiday companies and airlines charge extra for this, so if you can pay on a debit card, you can sometimes escape these extra costs. But it’s worth noting that if your flights cost more than £100 each it may be worth putting them on a credit card, as you will be covered by the Consumer Credit Act if something goes wrong – this isn’t something you’re protected for if you pay on a debit card.
What to look out for when booking a hotel
The best way to judge a hotel is through a review website such as Tripadvisor, which gives you real reviews from people who have stayed there. When looking at prices, make sure they include local taxes, as sometimes companies aren’t always upfront with these. Other things to look out for are ‘resort fees’, which will usually be in the small print and are charged to cover the cost of certain amenities – it’ll often be a fixed amount per night. Also check whether Wi-Fi is included in the cost, and if you’re planning to use the spa or sports facilities, it’s worth checking whether these come as part of the standard price per night.
Does all inclusive actually mean all inclusive?
All inclusive holidays are really popular and, on the face of it, they sound great - pay for your holiday before you go and get all of your food and drink included, so you won’t have to worry about spending money whilst there. However, it’s not always as it seems and you might end up having to pay for things you would have expected to be covered. Before you book, make sure that you know exactly what you’re getting for your money. Are snacks included? Do you have to pay extra for ‘branded’ drinks? Do you have to pay any extra for the kids club? Read the reviews, read the T&Cs and do your research so you know exactly what you need to budget for. Again, if the total comes to more than £100, it could be worth putting it on a credit card, as you will be covered by the Consumer Credit Act if something goes wrong at a later date.
Do I need a visa?
If you’re holidaying within Europe and are a UK citizen, you won’t need a visa; however, if you’re going further afield, you may need one. If you’re travelling to the USA, you need to register on the visa waiver programme before you fly and pay a small fee per person. Likewise, if travelling to Turkey (unless you’re on a cruise ship), you’ll need to buy an e-Visa online before you travel. If you’re flying to the other side of the world, you may find some South East Asian countries charge you for a visa on arrival. Other countries, including some in the Caribbean, will charge arrival and departure taxes too, so it’s worth doing your research so you know what you’ll need to fork out for.
How shall I pay when I’m abroad?
Paying for things on a card when you’re abroad can be an expensive game – most banks and card providers charge a fee for overseas transactions, so make sure you check the T&Cs before you go so you don’t end up paying over the odds. If you prefer not to carry cash on you, one option is a prepaid card that you load with cash before you travel. You can also get credit cards that are tailored for overseas use and that come without or with a low fee for overseas transactions, meaning your money will stretch further whilst you’re away. The same applies when you change your money at a bureau de change – you’ll get different exchange rates at different locations, so shop around for the best deal.
Disclaimer: All information and links are correct at the time of publishing.