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How to save money on European mini-breaks

Which? members share their money-saving tips

Several Which? members told us they saved money by booking a weekday flight

With the value of the pound falling in the wake of the Brexit vote, it’s more important than ever to keep holiday costs in check.

There are plenty of ways to enjoy a short escape without breaking the bank. We know because every month we survey thousands of Which? members to see how they save money on everyday bills, services or purchases. You can see the full range of our members’ money-saving tips by trialling Which? Money for two months for £1.

In March 2016, we asked 270 members to tell us about the savings they’d made on their most recent trip. Here, we share a selection of their best tips. 

Boost your spending money

To get the best rate on foreign currency, check comparison websites, such as comparecurrency.com and travelmoney.moneysavingexpert.com. Factor in delivery costs if you’re unable to collect your cash, and bear in mind that, while these sites compare live rates, they don’t always include smaller companies.

Make sure you take the right card away with you to avoid being stung by fees – some banks charge as much as 3% when you use a credit or debit card abroad. 

The Which? Money Compare tables include a wide range of credit cards that won’t charge fees on overseas spending. 

Which? Money Compare table: credit cards for overseas spending – our tables are updated daily

Shop around for holiday accommodation

Comparison sites, such as Trivago and Kayak, allow you to compare hotels and check room prices across popular booking sites, such as booking.com, hotels.com and Expedia. It’s worth checking the hotel’s own website for deals and prices before booking, though, especially if you want a particular type of room. 

One member, who told us she always books directly with hotels and B&Bs, managed to secure a £60 discount on accommodation in Brittany in April, as it was in the low season and she was staying for more than three days.

Many members who’d travelled in larger groups saved money by staying in apartments or hostels. One particularly savvy member saved £700 when she found an apartment on homeaway.co.uk for her and seven friends celebrating their 60th birthdays with a break in Barcelona.

Reach your destination for less

You can make decent savings on your airfare by flying mid-week or taking a roundabout route. One member told us they saved £50 by flying from Kraków to Athens with German carrier Lufthansa, stopping briefly in Frankfurt.

Booking as far in advance as possible is another easy way to save money on planes or trains. One member saved himself £80 when he booked flights to Malaga 12 weeks in advance. 

Airlines and train companies release seats on specific dates, which can usually be found on their websites. Eurostar releases most tickets up to 180 days before your return travel date, with some return tickets costing just £58. Tickets to the south of France can be booked 280 days ahead. One member told us she saved £30 by booking tickets to Avignon eight months in advance. 

Find out more: short-haul airline reviews – see which airlines are rated best by customers

Try a travelcard

Using local buses, trains and trams is a great way to explore a new city and keep tabs on your spending. 

If you’re going to make several journeys a day, a travelcard or pass will reduce costs. One member told us he saved £22 on his break in Dublin when he bought a 72-hour Leap Visitor Card (£16), which gives unlimited travel on the tram, train and bus – including the airport service. 

Tourist passes that offer discounted or free entry to attractions can often include free public transport as well, but make sure the pass actually covers the things you plan to see or do, as it could work out cheaper to buy tickets separately. 

One member told us she saved £47 on a four-day trip to Berlin when she purchased a 72-hour Welcome Card (£24), which offers unlimited transport in zones ABC, including journeys to and from Schönefeld airport, and up to 50% off selected attractions. As she made around eight trips on public transport each day, it was significantly cheaper than buying individual tickets.

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Which? Limited is an Introducer Appointed Representative of Which? Financial Services Limited, which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FRN 527029). Which? Mortgage Advisers and Which? Money Compare are trading names of Which? Financial Services Limited.

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