How To Save Big On Your Summer Holiday Travel: Part Two: Saving in the Sun

Last week, we offered all kinds of savings suggestions to help you get to a great holiday destination for less. This week, as promised, we have more, this time to help you stretch cash further once you arrive and the holiday party really begins:

Be wary of car rental pricing

The pricing of hire cars has become more and more complicated recently as companies try to keep the advertised cost as low as possible, then catch you out with extra charges during the booking process or on arrival. When planning a car hire for your holiday compare bottom-line prices rather than headline prices, which, in other words, means make sure you read all of the fine print.

Save £10s, possibly £100s

Avoid fines

Traffic police levy on-the-spot fines in most countries on the Continent, and the use of speed cameras is now as prevalent as it is in Britain. Sudden changes in speed limits can catch out even careful drivers, so if you are entering a village, city or other built-up area, note that the limit is likely to be 50 kph or less.

Save: £10s

Don’t open the minibar

The cost of drinks from hotel minibars seems to rise relentlessly, for example, we’ve seen mineral water at €8 recently, and it is always higher than in the bar (or the cost of a bottle smuggled in from a local supermarket).

Save: At least £2 per drink.

Skip breakfast

At least in the hotel. Either negotiate a b&b rate or nip out to the nearest cafe. In more expensive hotels you can pay €40 or more just for a continental breakfast. Needless to say, if breakfast is included in your rate, then fill your boots at the buffet (and stuff a couple of bread rolls in your pocket for a mid-morning snack)

Save: £10s

Do some menu planning

Two great rules for eating out for less: first, eat at lunchtime, when menus are always cheaper; second, choose from a fixed-price menu, or the dish of the day – menu del día (Spain), plat du jour (France), menu fisso (Italy).

Save: 50%

Choose local wines

The majority of (fancy) wine experts will agree that the best match for local cooking is a locally produced wine – they are designed to complement each other. Local wines are nearly always better and much cheaper than many others on the list and they usually taste wonderful as well.

Save: £5+ per bottle

Order draught beer

Draught beer is half the price of bottled beer in many bars. Ask for une pression in French; birra alla spina in Italian; cerveza de barril in Spanish.

Save: 50%

Walk around the corner

Restaurants and cafes a few steps away from the big sights are invariably cheaper than those whose main trade comes from tourists. A five-minute walk can halve your bill and get you a much better experience. A great example of this can be found in Venice: a cappuccino costs €15 in St Mark’s Square, €3 in a cafe in the Castello district.

Save: 50% or more

Play your cards right

Feel free to take some foreign currency with you, but look carefully for the best exchange rate (and never use branches at the airport). Otherwise use your debit card in overseas ATMs if you need cash when abroad (making a few withdrawals as possible), or use your credit card to pay (though this works only if you pay off the balance each month).

Save £10s

And there you have it, lots of great tips for taking a holiday you can really enjoy without busting your budget. However, if you do get home to find your wallet is a lot lighter than you had expected, and payday is still weeks away, a small short-term loan might help, especially if the bills have been piling up on the doormat while you’ve been away.