Secrets to saving money when booking your holiday

When you completed our survey last month, 70% of you said that you would visit Europe more often if it were less expensive. Keen to help, we asked people in the know for their top tips to get the cost of your holiday down. Their view: the secret is to get prepared before you travel.
  1. All-inclusive can be cheaper than self-catering. All-inclusive deals are getting more popular, and tour operators are offering them in an increasing number of places. They are especially good if you or the children often want drinks, ice creams or snacks.
  2. Book transfers to your resort in advance. If you can book transfers to and from the resort with your flight, or through a cheap online deal, you can save a considerable amount of cash.
  3. Book car hire somewhere other than the airport. Airport prices for car hire can often be high. To save money on car hire, either book online before you leave the UK or ask your hotel to recommend a good value car hire company once you are in the resort.
  4. Make a list of what you’ll need to take. This sounds simple, but if you make a list of essential items and buy them in the UK you will avoid having to use local shops which can often charge a high price on items you can’t do without. Don’t forget travel plug adaptors, shaving equipment, sun cream and after-sun lotion.
  5. Book excursions before you leave. You can get coupons, money-off vouchers and good deals online for trips that you want to take while you are abroad. Your tour operator may not always be the cheapest for these trips, but make sure the web site you book with is reputable.
  6. Exchange cash before you leave. You’ll often get a better exchange rate in the UK than overseas, and by taking enough cash you can avoid paying costly fees to use your credit card or debit card. If you have money left over you can either exchange it when you return or, since you’ll most likely be using Euros which you will use again at some point, keep the cash until your next holiday and save on exchange fees for converting it back again.

Tips on how to avoid losing your baggage

  1. Expensive bags are more likely to get stolen: Consider whether you really need to flaunt your designer bags, or whether you can keep it subtle and fly under the radar of the baggage thieves.
  2. Label outside: Use the label that comes with your suitcase, and clearly include your name, address, telephone number (mobile is best, especially if it works abroad) and email address. Also use the elastic tie tag that you will likely be given at check-in. Always have a hand luggage bag too, with your passport, some cash, and items you can’t risk losing.
  3. Label inside: Tape a label, with the same information as above, to the inside lid of your case. Also tape your itinerary there, so that your luggage stands the best chance of getting back to you if it is lost.
  4. Take off the old tags: Make sure any old tags or barcode stickers are removed from your luggage, otherwise your bag could accidentally make its way to where you went on holiday last year!
  5. Colour code your bag: Have a bright tag on your case, or some easily-identifiable marker like a sticker or a piece of coloured string tied around the handle. That way you can easily pick your bag from a sea of similar bags on the luggage carousel or the coach.

Flight Cancelled? How to get on the next flight out of there!

With the weather being so cold, there’s a chance your flight could be cancelled. See our Christmas newsletter for some good advice; here’s some more:

1. Queue at the gate desk, but phone your airline’s customer service number at the same time. Then you can speak to whoever you reach first.

2. If you or someone you are with has a Twitter account that you can use on your phone, post tweets about your situation. Make sure you include the name of the airport and the airline. Stay polite! Some airlines have customer service staff who monitor Twitter and can respond quickly to you (as much to avoid bad publicity as anything else!)

3. If the airport has a wi-fi internet connection, you might be able to rebook your ticket online using the airline’s website. You will most likely then be able to print out your new boarding passes at an airport kiosk.

By the way: don’t forget to make sure your checked-in travel bags are taken into account and will find their way to you!

What to do if your flight is cancelled due to bad weather

Snow, fog and floods are just a few of the weather elements that can lead to your flight being cancelled. When flights are cancelled due to adverse weather, airlines usually have a policy set up for passengers. Here’s what to do:
Contact your travel provider (airline or agent): You should be offered re-routing to your final destination at the earliest opportunity or at a later date convenient to you. Alternatively you can apply for a refund on your unused flight at the airport ticket desk or online.
Credit cards and homeowner’s policies: You can contact your card provider for advice, however coverage may often be limited depending on the type of card you used to pay or the coverage you have with your homeowner’s policy.
Booking through an agency: This can actually be to your advantage. You may be entitled to a refund from them if the flight is cancelled and the airline can’t get you on another flight in a timely manner.
Package holiday: Companies offering package holidays are legally bound to hold an Air Travel Organiser’s  Licence (ATOL). If you book a package holiday which includes a flight, then you – and your money – are protected under what’s called the ATOL scheme, so look for companies that are ‘ATOL protected’. You can find more details at http://www.caa.co.uk. Always check the details with your holiday provider before you book.

Top 10 tips on how to stay warm this winter

1. Eat well – eating regular, warm meals will help to keep your energy levels up this winter.
2. Dress in layers – instead of wearing one thick layer, you will get better results by putting a few thinner ones instead.
3. Keep active – even a small amount of exercise every day can make a difference.
4. Insulate your home – making sure you don’t let the warmth escape will also help to keep your heating costs down.
5. Hot water bottle – carry one around, keep it in your bed or even warm your clothes up on a cold morning.
6. Electric blanket – but make sure you unplug it before you go to sleep.
7. Heat one room at a time – keep one area of your home nice and cosy and enjoy your evenings with the whole family;
8. Keep your head and feet warm – putting on warm socks and a hat will help keeping your whole body warm for longer.
9. Choose wool instead of cotton and synthetics – wool will keep you warm even when it is wet.
10. Put an extra blanket or duvet on your bed – turn your heating down and enjoy a great night’s sleep.