How to get a better deal on your travel money

With a bit of preparation, you can make big savings when you buy your Euros or other foreign currency for your trip. We decided to look a bit closer…

Price comparison sites make it easy to find the best deal on your travel money. We had a look around, and found that http://www.compareholidaymoney.com has a particularly simple and easy to use website.

As an example, at the time of writing, the prices quoted for how many Euros you can buy for £500 ranged from 579 down to a measly 559, just by choosing one currency supplier over another. That 20 Euros extra could go towards a nice meal (or in Helsinki maybe half a pint of beer!).

According to a recent study by Compare Holiday Money, 38% of British travellers already buy their currency online. They say that not getting the best deal can mean you are spending up to 10% more on your holiday money than you need to, and with the average spend on holiday money being between £500 and £1,000 per family, this can considerably increase the total cost of your holiday.

The exchange rates on this particular website update every seven minutes, and it’s possible to get your currency delivered next day by Royal Mail Special Delivery. Some suppliers will also let you sell back your unused currency, although be careful of the exchange rate they offer you to buy it back: it could be worth hanging onto any unwanted currency ready for your next trip!

Off the beaten track: Delft, Netherlands

A historic city from the Dutch Golden Age
The picturesque city of Delft lies in South Holland, in the Netherlands, approximately midway between the bustling port of Rotterdam and the regal city of The Hague. Step into parts of the city and you enter an historic town unchanged in many ways from its time during the Dutch Golden Age of the 17th century. During this time Delft was one of the richest cities in the Netherlands, largely due to its trading connections with the Dutch East India Company, and an important centre for both art and science.

Cultural visits
This well-preserved city has miles of bicycle paths, walkways and canals. It is an ideal town for exploring by bicycle or foot, and its small scale makes it easy to navigate. Sights not to miss include the Royal Delftware Factory, where visitors can take guided tours, buy gifts and even participate in pottery workshops. Shops in the Market Square also sell pottery, but these vary in quality. Other sights include the gothic Old Church, with its leaning tower, the New Church, containing the mausoleum of William of Orange, and the Prisenhof Municipal Museum, with its superb collection of Dutch artwork. The Vermeer trail takes visitors on a tour of the celebrated Dutch painter’s life, from his baptism to his View of Delft cityscape and the Voldersgracht canal, one of the oldest in the city and the presumed site of his painting The Little Street.

Events in May and June
Delft hosts a number of exciting events throughout the year, and the late spring to summer period is one of the best times to visit the city. From 20th to 26th May 2013 there is a week long celebration of culinary delights, where visitors can enjoy a four course meal over four superb restaurants, with a leisurely sightseeing stroll between courses. Other events include the Delft Fringe, with pop-up theatre performances throughout the city from 16th to 19th May, and the street festival of Mooi Weer Spelen from 1st to 2nd June. City tours, canal tours and guided walks take place on a regular basis throughout spring and summer.

Weather
Weather wise, this time of year is ideal. From May onwards, milder springtime temperatures evolve into comfortable summery days. Average highs in May reach 20 degrees C (68F), while June and July reach average highs of around 22 degrees C (72F).

Food and accommodation
Delft has a fantastic array of food shops and cafes, offering treats such as molasses bread, homemade jams, Dutch cheeses and sweet and savoury pancakes. Accommodation in the town ranges from canal-side bed and breakfasts and friendly family run establishments to stylish boutique and luxury hotels. Bed and breakfasts start at around £45 per night, while luxury hotels in the centre can be booked from around £100 per night.

Classic holiday: Nice, South of France

Pleasantly Warm
With the summer on the horizon, everyone’s looking for another new and exciting hotspot to visit. The South of France never fails to attract a lot of attention, and during May, June and July, holidaymakers can expect temperatures to reach between 20 and 27 degrees C (69 – 81 F). With France’s famed cuisine, a beautiful pebbled shore, and the chance to enjoy both beach and city life, Nice is the ideal place to visit.

Located in the French Riviera (also known as the Côte d’Azur), Nice may be France’s fifth largest city but it still manages to retain a quaint charm about itself. Built on a steep incline, the city rises from the shoreline towards the mountains, offering stunning views and plenty of photo opportunities. Taking a scenic bus tour is a good idea if you don’t want to hike up some of the steeper parts of the city, whilst visiting Mont Boron will give you a beautiful view across the region.
See where Matisse lived
Whilst there is plenty of sun in Nice that will attract many people to long lazy days on the pebbled coast, there are a lot of sights to see. The ancient Roman ruins of Cemenelum are a great place to visit for archaeologists, whilst the city also has many museums including Musee Chagall and Mussee Matisse. If you’re a Matisse fan, then there’s an extra special treat too, as you can try to find the old house that the artist lived in during the 1920s: “1 place Charles Félix” is not distinguished with a plaque, but is a tall and old townhouse painted in yellow that’s easily spotted.
Things to do
One of the joys of Nice is the ability to explore the city’s flower and produce markets, stopping off at traditional French cafés now and then for a well deserved cup of coffee. Restaurants in this city vary from Michelin-starred extravaganzas to small family-run eateries offering the finest in French cuisine.
Another popular pastime in Nice is swimming, and though you might not be keen to sunbathe upon the pebbles, the warm water is extremely alluring. The beach drops away quickly, allowing a swimming depth to be found only metres offshore. If you’ve ever been frustrated with Mediterranean beaches where you have to wander quite a long way out before you can swim, Nice’s shore is ideal.

It won’t have escaped the attention of motor-racing fans that Nice is just half an hour from Monaco, where this year’s Formula 1 Monaco Grand Prix will be held on 26th May 2013.

Nice is a popular spot in Southern France for many reasons, including the wonderful cuisine, the warm temperatures, the variety of attractions on offer and the opportunity to enjoy a beach and city holiday at the same time. Meanwhile, with Cannes, Villefranche-sur-Mer and Antibes all within easy distances, having a day trip and a brief respite from the bustling city life is simple to do.