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10 ways to save on summer holidays

Great tips on how to cut the cost of getting away

Hotel and beach

Buying your travel money online is one of the great ways to save on a summer holiday

You might be forgiven for thinking that the British summer’s already been and gone, given the great weather we’ve had over the last couple of months. Here, Which? Money experts pick out ten top tips to help you make the most of your cash if you’re heading off on holiday this summer.

1. Beat ‘rip-off’ airline fees

In March 2011 Which? issued a surcharge super complaint to the Office of Fair Trading over the fees retailers charge consumers for paying by credit or debit card. Low cost airlines are among the worst offenders.

You can help put a stop to unfair airline card charges by joining our campaign. Dodging other fees, such as luggage charges, can be a bit of an art form; try wearing clothes with deep pockets or wear as many layers as you can to keep your bag weight down.

2. Get the right bank account for spending abroad

Norwich & Peterborough’s Gold Account doesn’t charge for purchases or cash machine withdrawals overseas. However, be careful if you take out a product just for going abroad as there may be penalties for low use. Metro Bank’s current account is another that doesn’t charge for use overseas.

3. Search for secret hotel deals

Websites like Lastminute and Laterooms offer deals for ‘secret hotels’ at cheaper rates – the catch is you don’t know exactly where you’re staying until after you’ve booked. However, some brief web research can mean it’s often quite easy to work out the hotel’s identity.

4. Buy your travel money online

Buying your foreign currency from the wrong place could cost you. Last year, Which? Money found that buying currency online and having it delivered to your door is not only a convenient service, but you may also benefit from better exchange rates than you do in branch. For more holiday money tips, read our expert guide to buying travel money online.

5. Flight delays and cancellations

If your flight is delayed, your airline may be obliged to provide you with food and board. In some cases, you can claim compensation; depending on the length of the delay, the flight distance and the reason for the delay. For everything you need to know about what you may be entitled to if your flight is delayed, cancelled or re-routed, read our guide to flights and your rights.

6. Library guides

Rather than forking out for expensive guide books, it’s worth visiting your local library to see if it has any guides of its own. You can also buy individual pdf chapters for the places you plan to visit from the Lonely Planet website (from 99p), while Rough Guides also offer app guides at low prices.

7. Go InterRailing

InterRail tickets aren’t just for youngsters – seniors also get substantial discounts on Europe-wide rail passes. It can be good value, with unlimited rail travel from about £18 a day. See www.interrailnet.com for more.

8. Get cheap travel insurance

If you travel abroad more than two or three times a year, it may be cheaper to take out annual insurance cover rather than several single-trip policies. Which? Best Buy annual travel insurance policies provide the cheapest cover that meets stringent criteria. All of our Best Buys include at least £2 million of medical cover for Europe and £5 million worldwide

9. Cut mobile costs

If you’re a regular traveller, consider whether you’d be better off buying a roaming bundle for your mobile as it could reduce your bills by as much as 90%. Buying an in-country Sim card can also reduce costs. See our guide to international calls for much more.

10. Split your train ticket

If you’re travelling by rail, you can save by splitting your tickets. For example, instead of paying for a ticket from Birmingham to Penzance, buy a ticket from Birmingham to Cheltenham, and then another from Cheltenham to Penzance – The only rule is that the train must stop at all the stations involved. Read our guide for more about the advantages of splitting your ticket.

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