travel tips

65+ overseas travel tips

Tricks to bag cheap flights, hotels & more

Some overseas holidays can now restart, but major restrictions still remain and the rules on holidaying are frequently changing. In this climate, bookings offering flexibility are key as huge uncertainty remains and you may not be covered by travel insurance for coronavirus-related claims. If you are planning a trip overseas, this guide has loads of hidden tricks to save you money.

For full help and information on overseas travel restrictions, see our Coronavirus Travel Rights guide.

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  1. Flexibility is key while travel restrictions are uncertain, so be sure to check this before booking

    Some overseas holidays are possible again, but big restrictions are still in place, and things can change quickly – this means any travel booking right now is still risky. As there’s no certainty on what restrictions will be in place when you come to travel, you should look for a holiday where you’ve no-quibble rights to change dates or cancel for a refund or voucher without charge.

    Here’s what you should be aware of…

    It’s crucial to check the rules on where you can travel. If you’re wanting to go away soon, check which destinations are on the Government's Red list – though this is only really relevant in the short-term and only applies to coming back to the UK. It’s equally important to check the entry requirements for the destination you want to visit so you’ll know if the country will actually let you in, and what tests you may need. See our list of the top 15 holiday destinations' entry requirements.

    Do also check Foreign Office country advice, which is about safety when away – and doesn’t always align with the traffic light system – but this is key for travel insurance cover and your rights to a refund, as if there's an advisory against travel it can invalidate travel insurance policies if you go away, but it also increases your chances of a refund from travel firms.

    Look for flexible bookings that let you easily change your mind, or the date, or cancel. If you’ve booked a flight that’s been cancelled, you’ve a legal right to a full refund, but many airlines now offer flexibility if you choose to change your flight when it's still running – see airline-by-airline cancellation policies.

    With package holidays, which give extra protection, you’re usually due a refund if you can’t go because your destination has closed its borders to Brits as firms tend to cancel these bookings. Yet you’re not automatically due a refund if you’re unable to go because you’d need to self-isolate on your return, so look for firms offering free changes or easy cancellation – see major tour operators’ flexible booking policies.

    If booking a hotel, many offer free cancellation up to a certain point (usually 24-48 hours before your arrival time) if you change your mind, and some won't require payment until then too. See our top-pick hotel comparison sites where you can filter hotels by free cancellation.

    Travel insurance is vital – get it as soon as you book. Flexible bookings are a form of self-insurance for Government-related restrictions that mean you can’t go on your holiday. With very rare exceptions, travel insurance won’t cover cancellation due to Government rules, but it does cover you for a multitude of other non-Covid risks, eg, theft or bereavement. Most policies will cover you if you get coronavirus before you go away and can no longer travel, or while you’re away and need treatment or to delay your flight home. See Cheap Travel Insurance for full info.

  2. Check which coronavirus tests you need – before and after you travel – then see how to find them cheapest

    Everyone returning to the UK needs to take a test before flying home, and get tested again at least once after getting back. But depending on where you travel, you may find you have to pay for coronavirus tests before and after your trip.

    You're not allowed to use the free NHS tests for travel purposes, and with some private providers charging £100+ per test, this could be a hefty addition to your travel costs. A family of four could end up paying over £1,000 all-in.

    We've seen some testing packages costing as much as £575 for two tests. But there's no need to pay these prices – see how to find the cheapest coronavirus tests for full help.

  3. Those in England can download the NHS app to show their vaccination status

    The Government says those living in England are able to use the existing NHS app (NOT the NHS contact tracing app) to show their vaccination status when abroad. The NHS app is available for iPhone and Android. It's worth downloading it and registering in plenty of time before you're due to travel.

    If you don't have a smartphone you can call the NHS helpline on 119 and ask for a letter to be posted to you. This must be at least five days after you’ve completed your course of the vaccine, and the letter may take up to five days to arrive.

  4. Grab an overseas credit card to bag near-perfect rates

    Most cards add a 3% cost to the exchange rates banks themselves get. You can avoid this by packing a specialist card that doesn't add this 'load', meaning you'll get near-perfect exchange rates which beat even the best bureaux de change. Pocket one just for spending overseas (always repay IN FULL to avoid interest). Generally you'll need to apply between one and three weeks before you go.

    overseas credit card

    Our current top pick is the Barclaycard Rewards card, which has near-perfect rates, no fees on spending or withdrawing cash abroad and no interest on either as long as you pay it off IN FULL every month. Plus, you get 0.25% cashback on spending worldwide. 

    As an alternative, the Halifax Clarity card also has no fees on overseas spending and withdrawals but withdrawals incur interest even if you pay off the card in full – so it's better to spend than withdraw.

    For other options including prepaid travel cards, see Cheap Travel Money and Travel Credit Cards.

  5. Turn your phone into a free worldwide sat-nav to avoid hefty charges

    sat-nav on phone

    If you've a smartphone with GPS there's a nifty, free way to turn it into a sat-nav you can use abroad. Simply download one of the following free apps to your phone (if an Android user, you may already have Google Maps).

    While the apps won't have the bells and whistles of a traditional sat-nav, crucially, you won't have to use any data when overseas.

    Download the apps and maps before you go and then they're stored offline in your phone – the apps use your phone's built-in GPS to locate you and you don't need data or Wi-Fi. As you're not using data, you won't get traffic alerts – you'll get the shortest route based on the assumption there's no traffic, which isn't always going to be the quickest route.

    Here are our three top-pick sat-nav apps – all free to download and use:

    • Google Maps works offline too – so download before you go: The Google Maps app (for iPhone and Android) is easy to use, and includes restaurants and reviews. You can use it offline, as long as you download maps in advance. It also offers real-time traffic and train info, though for that you'll need a Wi-Fi or data connection.

      • Search for the area you want.

      • Tap the three horizontal lines in the top left of the screen, then select 'Offline areas'.

      • It'll give you the option to select a 'local' or 'home', or a 'custom area'. 'Local' or 'home' selects an area surrounding where your search is – 'custom' lets you specify an area.

      • The maps you've downloaded are stored in the 'offline areas' section.
    • Great for driving and country-by-country apps: Navmii is free for iPhoneAndroidBlackberry and Windows Phone (though the Blackberry and Windows Phone apps are no longer being updated). It comes with pre-loaded maps, route planning, voice prompts, mileage tracking and real-time hazard reporting. 

      Navmii has maps for around 200 countries, including the UK – to find them, search in your phone's app store for Navmii plus the country, eg, 'Navmii France'. If you prefer, you can download a worldwide app to cover the lot.

    • Top for detail including hiking trails and ATMs: Maps.Me allows users to add data to maps – such as places of interest or trails, for example. It works in a similar way to Wikipedia with users making contributions, which is why its maps are so detailed. It also includes islands in addition to whole countries – great if you're going off the beaten track. It's available for iPhone and Android.

  6. Use the right cheap flight-finding site

    Don't go direct to an airline – use the price comparison sites below to get lots of data in a very short time. Of course right now, flexibility is key when booking travel, so factor that in when looking for the best deal.

    • Kayak for a comparison incl baggage fees. Kayak* lets you filter flights by baggage allowance, so you can compare costs more accurately.

    • Skyscanner for the very cheapest time to fly. Skyscanner* gives you fare options spread over a month to find exactly when's cheapest. It has particularly strong coverage of budget flights, searching over 1,200 airlines and travel sites in total.

    • Momondo for its flight data info. We like Momondo* for its nifty tool that tells you the cheapest and most expensive dates around your flight, as well as helpful insights such as the cheapest airport to fly from/into. It doesn't do it for all destinations, but it has the biggies – New York, Dubai, Sydney, Cape Town.

    See the Cheap Flights guide for more tips on finding cheap flights.

  7. Download the free Citymapper app to navigate like a local


    Navigating public transport in an unfamiliar city can be daunting. But don't be tempted to automatically fork out for cabs – the free Citymapper app will have you hopping on and off the metro or subway like a true Parisian, New Yorker etc.

    You can use it in over 70 cities around the world, including London, Barcelona and Hong Kong. It's available for iPhone and Android, or you can use the web app.

    How does it work?

    The 'Get me somewhere' function is easy to use – enter your destination and starting point to find the best route from A to B. It finds various public transport options, including bus-only, rain safe – for routes that minimise travel outdoors – and wheelchair accessible. Not only that, it will show you how long it would take to walk, cycle or take a cab.

    The app covers a number of public transport options, which will naturally vary depending on the city you're in. These include bus, metro/subway, rail, tram and cycle docks. You can also use it to view transport maps, such as bus routes.

    How to use the app offline

    While it's a handy app to use abroad, make sure you don't rack up big data charges. Unless you're able to use your data for free, it's best to switch off mobile data and use Wi-Fi to plan your route (eg, at your hotel or a café). You can then save your journey offline using the star in the top right of the screen.

  8. When is the best time to book your holiday?

    Of course right now, with overseas holidays having been largely off the menu for months, the usual rules on when to book have been torn up – so the following may not always apply. But these are key need-to-knows about when to book, with most of these tips definitely still relevant:

    • Want a package holiday? Booking late is often cheapest. Tour operators can offer discounts for booking way ahead, however, waiting till the last minute often pays off as prices usually plummet, though you've MUCH less choice. See Cheap Package Holidays.

    • Book flights a year ahead. Many airlines release seats 11-12 months ahead, with cheaper seats often released early. You can't be sure these will be the very cheapest, as prices could drop later, so weigh up if you want to take the risk. But once all airlines which fly your route have released seats, it's worth checking prices and you're likely to get a decent deal. See Airline-by-airline seat release dates and our Cheap Flights guide.

    • Manipulate hotel prices with our rebook tricks. Rates fluctuate, but if you find a good deal on a room with free cancellation then grab it, monitor prices, and cancel and rebook if it drops. Some booking sites will also match prices if they fall later. Both strategies can pay off, but have their risks – see Hotel rebook tricks.

    • Get travel insurance ASAB (as soon as you book). ALWAYS get travel insurance immediately. It doesn't cost any more to get a policy early, and you're then covered if you have to cancel any time BEFORE your holiday begins. See Cheap Travel Insurance.
  9. The codeshare trick: where two airlines sell the same flight

    If you like flying with a specific airline or know the exact flight you want, 'codesharing' could be a way to get a flight with that airline, via another one. It's when airlines buddy up to sell seats on each others' flights, sometimes at a different price.

    For example, when we looked, we found a Virgin Atlantic return flight from London to Las Vegas in September for £881, booking via Virgin Atlantic. But exactly the same flights booked via its partner Delta cost £816, saving £65.

    This works best on popular medium or long-haul routes. For a full 'how to' and list of codeshare partners see the Cheap Flights guide.

  10. Beat price hikes with Easyjet's Flexifares


    We've found a clever way to bag cheaper flights using Easyjet's 'Flexifares', which let you switch dates by a few weeks without paying anything extra.

    It only works with 'Flexifare' tickets, but once you've booked you can switch dates by a few weeks without paying more. It works the whole year round – but it's particularly useful when prices shoot up during the school holidays. This means you can bag a cheap term-time flight, then swap for your chosen school holiday dates.

    Full details and more tricks to flying with the orange-loving airline in Easyjet Flexifare Trick.

  11. Ensure your passport's valid – many countries require you to have at least six months left


    If you're jetting off, remember to check your passport's expiry date before you book. Some countries (including many in the EU) demand your passport's valid for at least six months from arrival. Likewise, if your passport's worse for wear, some countries may refuse you entry. Check the Government's foreign travel advice before you go.

    The Passport Office says renewals can currently take up to 10 weeks, so ensure you leave plenty of time and it'll save the hassle and extra cash needed for an urgent trip to the passport office.

    A standard adult passport is £75.50 if you apply online and normally takes three weeks to get back, though right now, this could be much longer. Leave this until the very last minute and you risk having to pay £177 for its one-day premium service.

    To renew yours, go to Don't just Google it – we've had reports of some being caught out by unofficial websites which charge extra, so always use the official link above to ensure you aren't caught out by a copycat site. See full help in Passport renewal tips.

    Visiting the EU? You'll need at least six months left (in some cases more) on your passport – so may need to renew early

    Pre-Brexit, you could travel to EU countries on your passport right up to the point it expires. However, the rules have changed. Under the new rules, when you visit most EU countries and Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland, your passport will need to both:

    • Have at least six months left on it until expiry 
    • AND be less than 10 years old on the day you travel.

    This means some will need to renew their passport earlier than normal. It's worth noting though that it won't apply when visiting every EU country (for example, you won't need to do it when going to the Republic of Ireland).

    What's more, if you renewed your current passport before the previous one expired, extra months may have been added to its expiry date making it last longer than 10 years. But crucially some European countries don't count these extra months towards the six months' validity needed. So to be safe, you may need to renew if your passport's older than nine years and six months on the day you travel. 

  12. Many airlines let you take child car seats and buggies for free

    child car seat and buggies

    Whether you're hiring a car or making a quick dash to the airport in a taxi – then if you've young children with you, they should be in a car seat.

    Renting one can be pricey though. It can add around £5/day to the cost of hiring a car, and hike taxi fares sharply too – for example, we were quoted an extra €12 for a one-way journey from Barcelona airport to the city centre.

    There are alternative options – for instance, some airports have stalls like Malaga's Tots Store where seats can be rented at half the cost. But your best bet may be to take your own.

    Many airlines let you check in a car seat and fully-collapsible pushchair for free, in addition to your usual luggage allowance. Eg, Easyjet lets you take two items for free, including travel cots, buggies and car seats. The rules can, however, vary by airline. 

    It's worth noting some car seats can also be used on the plane (if you've paid for your child to have their own seat). The car seat'll have to meet certain criteria though and it depends on the plane you're travelling on, so check in advance.

    For more tips on taking your own car seat, see MSE Steve's blog: How bubble wrap and a roll of Sellotape has saved me £100s on family holidays.

  13. Ethnic travel agents may be cheaper

    The UK's a melting pot of different immigrant and ethnic communities, and this can be used to great advantage for a cheap flight booking. Niche travel agents often specialise in finding deals to the relevant communities' linked countries.

    For example, Shepherd's Bush in London and the surrounding area has some Caribbean specialist tour agents, or buy the Jewish Chronicle, which has firms advertising cheap flights to Israel.

    Don't forget to check prices elsewhere before you buy, to make sure you're getting a good deal. If you know of a cheap specialist travel agent, please let us know in the forum.

  14. Grab cheap or FREE access to airport lounges

    Airport lounges aren't just reserved for first class, business class or elite frequent flyers. Access can be free with certain credit cards or bank accounts, or you can get it cheaply via frequent flyer schemes such as Virgin Atlantic's Flying Club.

    One-off passes start from about £20 per person. Given you could pay that for food and drinks alone at the airport, it can be good value, especially when you usually get a comfy seat in peace, and a newspaper or magazine thrown in too. 

    Our Free or Cheap Airport Lounges guide has top tips, including the credit card that'll get you two free visits to 350+ lounges.

  15. FREE app to help you talk like a local

    You can learn over 35 languages completely free via language-learning app and website Duolingo. It has all the standards such as French, Spanish and Italian – but there's even 'High Valyrian' and 'Klingon' for Game of Thrones and Star Trek fans.

    How does it work?

    The app's available for iPhone, Android and Windows phones. It's free to download but there are optional in-app purchases. You can also learn via Duolingo's website.

    You can set yourself goals of practising for five to 20 minutes each day, and it tries to make learning fun by turning each lesson into a game (eg, you lose lives when you get questions wrong).

    You can also join 'clubs' where the app matches you up with other learners, so you can chat to each other and practise what you've learned. Forumite Hermia has been learning French via the app:

    I love it. I honestly have learned more from the app than I have from three years of classes at school!

  16. Free app translates 59 languages offline – download it before you go

    free translation app

    Here's a handy trick to turn a smartphone into a personal translator for free – without the need to use any costly data or even Wi-Fi abroad.

    The Google Translate app's available on Android and iPhone. It's free, and lets you translate words and phrases to and from your chosen language. If you have internet access, you can translate between over 100 languages.

    You do this by typing the text in or using your camera to take a photo. The app can automatically translate text via your camera in real time (though this works only with a select 38 languages – including Chinese, French and Spanish). 

    Download it before you go

    The real boon though is that you can download free language packs in advance, which means the app will then work offline overseas. Each language pack is about 150MB, so ensure you download it in the UK via Wi-Fi.

    To get these, open the app, press the menu button and select "offline languages" then tap the pin button for each language you want to download. There are 59 to choose from.

    More info:

    • The offline translation feature's only available if you're running a later Android system – which version you'll need depends on your phone.

      To check which version yours is on, go to "Settings", then "About device" or "About phone". You should be able to update the phone's software from here too.

    • You'll need IOS 9.1 or later in order to download the app.

      Once you're using the app on iPhone, it's also possible to save translations to your phone while you're online. To do this, press the star icon next to each phrase you want to store offline in the app.

      It isn't perfect, but this can be a handy workaround if you're keen.

  17. Check if you need a visa

    Many countries require you to have certain documents in place or to meet other stipulations before allowing you in. Depending on where you're travelling, you may need a visa (basically a certificate giving you permission to enter a country, which also dictates how long you can stay).

    Some countries offer visas on arrival, others require visas in advance – sometimes a costly and lengthy process. If you're heading to the USA, you may be eligible for the 'ESTA' visa-waiver scheme – though you'll still need to pay and hold a 'chipped' passport. For more, read our ESTA guide. From 2022, a similar scheme will apply for travel within the EU.

    The most reliable way of checking entry requirements for your intended destination is to go to the foreign travel advice section of the Foreign Office's website, search for the country or territory you want to visit (226 are covered, from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe), click through, then click on 'Entry requirements' to find out everything you need to know.

    Do I need a visa to travel in the EU?

    From 2022 (the exact date's yet to be confirmed), you'll have to buy a £6 visa-waiver for holidays and short stays within the EU. See our Brexit need-to-knows for more info.

    You don't have to pay this for every trip though. The fee covers an electronic pass that will allow British citizens to go on short holidays over a period of three years before they have to renew. The pass is similar to the ESTA currently required to visit the United States.

  18. How to find FREE water at airports for your flight – and avoid rip-off prices after security

    water fountains

    Restrictions on taking liquids in hand luggage mean passengers often shell out for pricey bottles of water once in the departure lounge, or on the plane.

    But many airports have water fountains after security where you can fill up an empty water bottle or Thermos flask for free – you just have to know where to find 'em.

    To help, we've compiled a handy guide to exactly where you can find free drinking fountains at 18 of the UK's biggest airports. Simply take an empty bottle with you through security – the Civil Aviation Authority has confirmed this IS allowed – and fill it up before getting on the plane.

    Where to find free water fountains - airport by airport:

    • It's the biggest airport in the UK – and one of the best when it comes to free drinking water. Its website says: "We have over 100 water fountains across Heathrow's four terminals clearly signposted and located at most toilets where you are welcome to fill up your water bottles."

      To see the exact location of each one, search this interactive map for 'drinking fountains' and you'll see where to find them in each terminal.

    • Gatwick has water fountains available before security in both terminals.

      • North terminal – There are two fountains on the right-hand side of the entrance to the World Duty Free store. There's another near the toilets on the lower level by WHSmith, and one on the upper level by Wagamama.

      • South terminal – There's a fountain on the upper level next to the Duty Free store and the toilets (marked on this map). There is another on the lower lever, next to Harrods, at the entrance to the toilets. 

      There are also water fountains in the immigration halls of both terminals, outside the toilets before going through passport control.

    • Manchester Airport has water fountains in each of its terminals:

      • T1 departures – A water fountain can be found on the left side of the corridor after you leave security area A. If you're exiting security area B, you'll see it as you enter the corridor that leads into the first concourse.

      • T2 departures – There's a water fountain after the security area, in the corridor towards departures.

      • T3 departures – A water fountain is located in the corridor between the Trattoria Milano restaurant and the Lion and Antelope pub.

      • T1 arrivals – A water fountain can be found in the level 4 UK Border Agency queuing area, right by the toilets.

      • T2 arrivals – There's a water fountain at immigration.

      • T3 arrivals – The water fountain is in the international baggage reclaim hall.
    • Stansted has water fountains in the following locations:

      • Pre-security - Near Burger King (though bear in mind if you fill up here you'll have to empty your container again before going through security).

      • Boarding gates - Near the toilets.

      • Main departure lounge - By Pret A Manger.

      • Boarding gates - Near the toilets.

      • Immigration

      • Baggage reclaim

      • Arrivals area

      It told us the newer fountains in the main departure lounge, immigration and baggage reclaim are specialised water bottle refill stations.

    • Luton Airport has water fountains just after security. You can find them beside the lifts to the departure lounge.

    • Edinburgh has a water fountain in the departure lounge, on the left as you leave the World Duty Free area.

    • Birmingham Airport told us it has a number of water fountains, before and after security:

      • Before security. At the OCS Special Assistance Area.

      • After security. Within the main departure lounge, there's one behind Bottega Prosecco Bar & Cafe, another adjacent to the toilets behind the No1 Lounge, on the International Pier by the departure gates (Gate 47 & Gate 52) and in the Pier Bussing lounge.
      • Arrivals area. At the north baggage reclaim area.
    • Glasgow Airport has one water fountain after security, next to the Travelex store in the main walkway as you leave the duty-free shop. There should be signs pointing it out.

    • Bristol Airport has two water fountains in its terminal building – one for departures and one for arrivals.

      The water fountain in departures is at the entrance to the walkway leading to gates 8-16. The water fountain for arrivals is in the walkway before passport control and baggage reclaim. 

    • Liverpool John Lennon Airport has now installed two water fountains. It says they're located at either end of the departure lounge - one by the picnic area near gate three, the other near gate 30.

      It says free drinking water is also available from all food and drink retailers at the airport.

    • East Midlands has a water fountain at the back of its security hall.

    • Aberdeen Airport has now installed a water fountain in its departure lounge. It says it's near gate 5, at the top of the ramp.

    • You can now fill your water bottles for free at Belfast City Airport – it's confirmed it has installed a water fountain in the departure lounge, after security.

      You'll find it in the customer seating area opposite House of Ireland. 

    • Southampton Airport has one water fountain after you go through security. As you enter the departure lounge through World Duty Free, turn left and the fountain is next to the toilets on the ground floor.

      It provided us with this handy map to show where the fountain is located (it's by the orange arrow).

    • Since we launched our investigation, Cardiff has installed a water fountain in its departure lounge and another in the baggage reclaim hall. It says it's considering installing more in the future.

    • Jersey Airport has two water fountains - one immediately after security and another in its airside lounge area outside the toilets after World Duty Free.

    • Since we launched our investigation, Exeter Airport says it has installed a water dispenser in the corridor leading to the boarding gates.

    • Inverness Airport has designated drinking water taps in its bathrooms.

    MSE is campaigning to ask all UK airports to provide free drinking water fountains for passengers. Sadly not all do – these airports all told us they don't have any:

    Belfast International, Bournemouth, Cornwall Airport Newquay, City of Derry, Doncaster Sheffield, Durham Tees Valley, Glasgow Prestwick, Leeds Bradford, London City, London Southend, Newcastle and Norwich International.

    A number of them said you're welcome to ask cafés and restaurants to fill up bottles for free however, even if you're not making a purchase. 

    Since we launched our campaign in 2017, Aberdeen, Cardiff, Exeter, George Best Belfast City and Liverpool John Lennon have installed water fountains, London City and Norwich International have confirmed they will be installing them, and Glasgow Prestwick is considering having them.

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  19. Many airports charge just to drop somebody off – how to avoid it

    Our 2019 investigation found 19 of the UK's busiest 30 airports make you pay for a 10-minute drop-off outside the terminal.

    When we checked prices in August this year, Heathrow did still let you drop off for free (though it's considering introducing a £5 charge). But Gatwick has now started charging £5 for up to 10 minutes. A number of other busy airports also make you pay for a 10-minute drop-off outside the terminal building. Manchester now charges £6, and Luton £5. Stansted charges £7 for up to 15 minutes.

    The airports that charge often have little-known free drop-off areas, albeit a bus ride or short walk away from the terminal. See a full list of which major airports charge plus ways to beat the charges in the Airports hike 'kiss and fly' drop-off charges MSE News story.

  20. Is your EHIC still valid? If not, apply for a free GHIC

    EHIC card

    If you're off to Europe, ensure you have a Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) or valid in-date European Health Insurance Card (EHIC).

    A GHIC or EHIC give you treatment at state-run EU hospitals and GPs at the same cost as a local. So if they pay, you pay – if it's free for them, it's free for you. If you already have an EHIC, it will continue to cover you for the entire time it's valid, so you MUST check it's still in-date as they expire after five years.

    If you need to renew, or apply for the first time, you'll receive a GHIC instead – but it does the same thing. For full help, including how to get one for FREE (never pay), see our Free GHIC or EHIC guide.

    They're not a substitute for travel insurance – while very useful, they're only for medical cover. See Cheap Travel Insurance.

  21. Got your heart set on a destination? Check out our guides to NYC, Paris & more

    Our destination guides include how to bag cheap flights, the top 10 free things to do and where to stay without breaking the bank, plus a host of MoneySaving tips unique to the place:

    • Amsterdam: Including free concerts and half-price hen dos. Amsterdam MoneySaving Tips

    • Barcelona: Including how to spot Gaudi's greats for free, Nou Camp discounts and where to find 'free' tapas. Barcelona Tips

    • Costa del Sol: Including Marbs, Malaga and Torre del Mar and how to bag a three-course meal for €15. Costa del Sol Tips

    • New York: Including how to sail past the Statue of Liberty for free and bag cheap Broadway tickets. New York Tips

    • Paris: Including cheap Disneyland Paris tickets and Eurostar returns. Paris Tips

    • Rome: Including how to beat Colosseum queues and where to find all-you-can-eat buffets for the price of a drink. Rome Tips
  22. How to bag the best plane seats

    best plane seats

    Want to know whether 18E beats 19C? When you're choosing seats, use specialist sites Seatguru or Skytrax to check the plane's seating plan and see where's best to pick.

    Yet choosing the ideal seat can come with a price premium – up to £30 each way for a standard seat, or as much as £60 each way for extra legroom.

    For full info on your seating rights and how to sit together for free on big airlines, see our Airline Seating guide.

  23. Get travel insurance ASAB (As Soon As you've Booked)

    Get travel insurance as soon as you book. If not, you won't be covered for cancellation. Plus if you go away two or more times a year, annual policies are usually cheaper.

    See the Cheap Travel Insurance guide for full best buys and help.

  24. Don't pay airport prices for travel accessories – try pound shops

    travel cushion

    Pick up travel accessories such as eye masks and travel cushions and adaptors at the airport and you risk paying inflated prices for last-second shoppers.

    So plan ahead – you can often bag 'em cheaply at pound shops. It's also worth checking prices at supermarkets, plus Boots and Superdrug. For adaptors the Travel Adaptor website has useful country-by-country info.

  25. Liquids are banned through airport security – but not food

    fast food

    Airlines make extra cash by flogging snacks to hungry flyers at sky-high prices – a splurge on airline snacks could easily undo the savings on your ticket.

    Yet as it's only liquids that you can't take through security, you can plan ahead and bring your own snacks and sarnies with you. For example, just the £2 spend on a single airline muffin can often buy eight of 'em in a supermarket, making it nearly 90% cheaper to bring your own.

    More info:

    • Packed meals don't need to be drab – you could even theme it around your holiday destination. This can be a great way to get kids (and big kids) excited about the trip. Canny forumites have compiled a huge list of cheap and delicious packed lunch ideas, from Spanish omelettes to Greek salads.

      One MoneySaver recommends taking juice drinks that are under the liquid allowance limit – "We take these, they're only 85ml so are OK," @ShedOnBeach told us via Twitter.

      If you're already at the airport, forumites report Boots meal deals can come in cheaper than plane equivalents, though always check. See the What to eat on a flight? forum discussion for more.

    • Different airlines and airports may have their own restrictions, so check first. For example, Ryansir says passengers can take their own food and drink onboard, but not hot drinks. You can usually also take an empty water bottle through security to refill and bring onto the plane with you, though overseas you'll need to check what different airports' policies are – see how to find free water.

      The Civil Aviation Authority says while there's no obligation for airlines to provide free water, it's in the cabin crew's interest to avoid passengers becoming dehydrated. So don't automatically buy pricey drinks if you're thirsty – try asking. Also do check out our Free Tap Water Q&A.

  26. Don't trust the hotel star system

    3 stars

    The star rating system isn't standardised worldwide, and it's usually just an indicator of facilities, rather than quality. A 5 star may not live up to its hype – it just means it has extra facilities, so don't just rely on this if you're after a swanky getaway..

    Stars may be given by governments, review organisations or even the hotel itself. Package tour operators tend to be overly generous, often a star higher than independent reviews.

    To uncover a real gem, use TripAdvisor* feedback to help you find a hotel. It isn't perfect, but ignore the very best and very worst feedback and it's a handy gauge.

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  27. Flight delayed more than three hours? £100s in compensation possible

    flight times

    If you're delayed by more than three hours or your flight's cancelled, you're often entitled to between £110 and £520 in compensation where the delay was the airline's fault.

    A landmark ruling by the European Court of Justice clarified that passengers were entitled to compensation for long delays (as long as they met the set criteria) following a challenge by some airlines. Since the end of the Brexit transition period, the rules haven't changed, as EU law has been written into UK law.

    See the Flight Delays Compensation guide for full details.

  28. Use TravelMoneyMax for the best rates

    You're a captive customer at an airport or ferry terminal, so you'll probably be lumbered with the worst rates. If you must get your travel cash from the airport, order ahead then pick it up to get a better rate.

    Use our TravelMoneyMax comparison site to instantly uncover the best possible deal, including all fees and any commission. 

    The tool lists all the big currencies, and also lets you see who's cheapest for exchanging unused currency back to pounds when you get back (if you've any left).

  29. Wear your luggage!

    Luggage charges can soon add up, but wearing your luggage is a great way to help cut down the amount you need check-in.

    wear your luggage

    To minimise weight, wear your heaviest clothes and shoes. If you're near the weight limit, put heavy gear in your pockets, then stow your jacket under your seat on the plane.

    Another option is a specialist big-pocket jacket. You could try to look out for any jacket with a poacher's pocket – a deep lower pocket at the back where hunters keep game.

    These are common at outdoor or survivalist stores, but eBay and Amazon may sell them cheaper so try searching for terms like 'survival vest' to see if there's something suitable for all your travel essentials.

    One version, popular with forumites, is the Rufus Roo – when we checked, it was £29.99 on Amazon*.

  30. Always turn your sun cream bottles around


    That's right... simply turn your old sun cream bottles around and you should spot a little number on the back which could save you big.

    Many automatically buy sun lotion every time they jet off, but there's often no need to shell out – open bottles can still be effective for up to two years. The number you should find on the back of the bottle is a period after opening (PAO) number, which tells you how long you can keep using it for.

    It'll normally look like a tub with an open lid and a number next to it (eg, 12 or 24) – that's the number of months after opening during which it should be OK to use.

    The British Skin Foundation says: "Sun tan lotions may, given time, start to separate and become less effective, so it's always worth noting down on the bottle when it was first opened."

    It also recommends storing your sun lotion in a cool, dark place, and avoiding leaving it in direct sunlight.

    It's worth noting the PAO number isn't the same thing as the best before date, so check that too. The British Skin Foundation says you should always throw away sun cream which has passed its best before date.

    If you do need new sun cream, see how to get 5 star UVA protection from as little as £2.29 below.

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  31. Don't assume a pricier sun lotion is safer – get 5-star UVA protection from as little as £2.29

    Branded sun lotions can set you back up to a whopping £25 for a 200ml bottle on the high street. However it’s possible to downshift to an own-branded alternative without losing protection. Plus, skin care experts say they check out on skin safety.

    The British Skin Foundation (BSF) told us: "When choosing a sunscreen, rather than price or retailer, the two most important factors to look out for are its SPF and UVA rating.

    "Firstly SPF, or sun protection factor, is the level of protection sunscreen gives against UVB radiation, the type that causes sunburn. This is usually on the front of the product. We recommend choosing one at SPF 30 or higher.

    "Secondly, check the UVA rating, which tends to be on the back. Ideally, aim for four or five stars."

    The UVA rating tells you how much protection the product is giving you from harmful long-wave ultra-violet UVA rays. Some bottles have a star rating (the BSF recommends four or more stars), and those that don't should at least contain a circle with the letters UVA inside, as this indicates the minimum level of UVA protection. See the images below for the logos you should be looking for.

    Here's where we found cheaper own-branded alternatives with 5-star UVA protection:

    Retailer/product Price

    Aldi* - Lacura sun lotion SPF 30, 200ml


    Morrisons* - Nutmeg sun lotion SPF 30, 200ml 


    Tesco* - Soleil sensitive SPF 30, 200ml £3.20

    Asda - Protect SPF 30, 200ml


    Sainsbury's - Sun Protect SPF 50, 200ml £3.50

    Wilko* - Suncare SPF 50, 200ml


    Boots* - Soltan SPF 50+, 200ml


    Superdrug - Solait SPF 30, 200ml


    If you can’t ditch a brand you know and trust, try comparing prices and checking offers online on supermarket websites, plus Boots and Superdrug.

    It's worth noting, some sun creams can contain chemicals that hurt coral reefs and a few island countries ban them. So if you want to protect the environment and avoid them, watch out for ingredients such as oxybenzone and octinoxate. You can see the full list of 10 chemicals on the International Coral Reef Initiative's website.

  32. Package holidays can undercut DIY bookings and you get protection if things go wrong

    The internet's great for flights or DIY city breaks. But if you're going away specifically for seven, 10 or 14 days to a traditional holiday destination, then good old-fashioned package holidays can often come up trumps. They can also offer valuable protection while travel restrictions remain changeable.

    package holidays

    A package holiday is an all-in-one, where the tour operator provides flights, connections and accommodation for one price. They're best suited for standard breaks of standard length. So if it's a traditional holiday destination like Florida or Crete, it's worth checking to see if you can get a package for less than the DIY route.

    • When to book. Massive savings are possible in the late market, which are deals done within eight weeks of travel, yet of course there's restricted choice & you may need to be flexible. So if you need special facilities (eg, for families) you're going to have to book now and try to cut prices down.

    • How to cut prices. Tour operators make holidays while travel agents sell 'em. Therefore, many big tour operators' holidays are sold by multiple agents. If you're booking one, once you've found a specific deal, try calling up different agents and getting your haggle on to see if they can beat the price. You could save around 5% more. See Cheap Package Holidays.

    Package holidays also usually have added ATOL and ABTA consumer protection (though always check when you book).

  33. Get ATOL protection by booking flights + hotel or car hire

    Package holidays have long been protected under the ATOL scheme, so if something goes wrong you get your money back or help getting home.

    For bookings made since 1 July 2018, most DIY package holidays bought in the same transaction get the same cover as 'traditional' package holidays - ie, full financial protection (so you're entitled to a refund or be brought home if necessary if the firm organising your package goes bust) AND legal protection (so you're covered if you don't get the holiday you paid for, eg, if a supplier like an airline goes bust, or if bad weather stops you travelling).

    For more info, including the rules if you booked before 1 July 2018 and what protection other types of holiday offer, see Holiday Rights.

    Once you've booked your trip you'll get an ATOL certificate – keep it safe as you'll need it if anything goes wrong.

  34. Dress kids in bright colours to stop you losing 'em at the airport

    If you have kids (or you've ever seen Home Alone), you'll know what a nightmare it is to keep an eye on them in crowded places – especially if you're hurrying to catch a plane or transfer. So one way to keep tabs on the tiddlers is to dress them so they'll stick out like a sore thumb.

    Ex-MSE Andrea uses this trick every time she goes away with her family.

    I pop my kids in bright coloured hats or clothes with spots on so they stand out when we're travelling. We also take a photo of them on our phones in what they're wearing before they leave. If they get lost, we can show someone the photo – much easier than describing them.

    Check out more, ahem, bright ideas in the Tips to keep kids safe when travelling  discussion.

  35. Turn off mobile 3G/4G and data roaming to avoid shock charges

    Mobile firms were banned from charging extra fees to use your UK allowance of minutes, texts and data (subject to a fair use cap) in Europe while the UK was still part of the EU. But now the post-Brexit transition is over, these rules now no longer apply.

    When we spoke to 10 of the biggest providers in June, all told us they had no plans to reintroduce charges, but EE has now broken ranks and become the first to reveal it will charge. It will introduce a £2/day fee for mobile roaming in Europe from January. See our MSE News story EE to bring back mobile roaming charges in Europe for full details.

    Separately, O2 and Three have announced changes to their 'fair use' policies which cap the amount of your UK data allowance you can use for free while roaming in Europe. However, this is very different to EE reintroducing roaming charges - mobile firms were allowed to set fair usage caps even when the EU ban on mobile roaming charges applied.

    Outside the EU, providers remain free to charge what they like – some as much as £8/MB – so if you're not careful, using the web abroad could rack up an eye-watering bill.

    The most sensible plan is to turn your phone off completely (or put it in 'airplane' mode) while you're on holiday abroad. If you can't, there are ways to slash costs, including data-roaming add-ons, free Wi-Fi hotspots abroad, and even switching your Sim. See the Cheap Mobile and Data Roaming guide.

  36. Ensure your destination is safe

    ensure destination is safe

    Besides keeping yourself out of harm's way, it's also important to check if your destination is considered safe to ensure your holiday is covered. Many travel insurance providers will refuse to pay out for issues – including cancellations – at destinations that have been declared unsafe to visit.

    To check entry requirements, destination safety and other information, refer to the Government's foreign travel advice.

  37. Pay the right way for extra protection

    If your flights or package hols cost over £100, pay by credit card to nab extra protection. This is because when the item's over £100, Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act means the card company's equally liable if owt goes wrong.

    This means if the airline goes bust and you've booked directly with it, you can at least get your money back from the card company. Always pay your card off in full at the end of the month so you're not charged interest. See the full Section 75 Refunds guide.

    More info:

    • Bizarrely, if you're booking flights, Section 75 only covers you if each individual ticket comes to over £100. So if a couple bought two flights at £75 each, even though the transaction would be over £100, they wouldn't be covered. Plus if you aren't the primary cardholder and book your flight on an additional card, you won't be covered.

      Another exception's if you buy a flight via a travel agent. Even if over £100, Section 75 doesn't cover you here. Because you pay the travel agent, not the airline, the card company doesn't have a direct relationship with the supplier, so isn't considered liable.

    • If you're paying by debit card, there's also valuable hidden protection that means you may be able to get your money back if something goes wrong. It's called chargeback, and applies to most debit and charge cards, as well as Visa, Mastercard and Amex credit cards – though it isn't a legal requirement. See the Chargeback guide for info.

  38. Avoid hefty fees for checking in at the airport

    Sadly, budget airlines can charge up to an eye-watering £110 per person, per return, just to check in at the airport. So do this free online first. See the Beat Budget Airline Charges guide for more tricks to avoid check-in fees.

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  39. Slash car hire costs with our tips and tricks


    Holiday car hire can save a hefty whack on taxis to and from the airport. If you're going to need it (see below for alternatives), book the right way to grab it as cheaply as possible.

    You can find full details of current deals and tips 'n' tricks in the Cheap Car Hire guide. Here are the key points:

    • Work out what you need. There's often a mass of costly add-ons on offer, including air-con, sat-navs and extra drivers. Before you book, work out what you need and ditch the rest.

    • Quickly compare quotes. Next, take the legwork out of your search by using the right comparison sites to grab the most quotes in the least time. Our top picks are Skyscanner*Kayak*, TravelSupermarket* and Carrentals*.

    • Check for extra discounts. See if you can squash the price further via fly-drive package deals, cashback, specialist travel brokers and online vouchers.

    It's important to note that if you are planning on booking a car, you'll need to get a code from the DVLA before you go, but bear in mind it expires after 21 days.

  40. Uncover secret bargains on 5* hotels

    The secret hotel section at* has bargains on four and five-star hotels worldwide (including London), because you only know the description and star rating before you pay. This can mean rock-bottom prices for classy establishments.

    Yet often you can cut and paste key phrases into Google to discover which hotel it is. Once you know the hotel's identity, check reviews on TripAdvisor* and whether it's really a bargain compared to what you can get on the top comparison sites. See our Secret Hotels guide for how. Some inspiration from MoneySavers:

    I booked the 5* Grange St. Paul's Hotel in London for £109 (rack rate £215). OH YEAH BABY.

    I booked the Hilton London Paddington for £69 for a double room. I had a look on the Hilton website and the equivalent cost would be £205 – bargain!

  41. Driving abroad? Check if your UK licence is valid


    A UK driving licence is accepted throughout the EU, but if you're planning a road trip further afield, check if you'll need an International Driving Permit (IDP).

    An IDP is required or recommended in about 140 countries, including the USA, Thailand and India. Drive without one where it's needed and you risk trouble with the authorities, and may be refused a hire car.

    It's in booklet format and there are two types, known as the 1926 and 1949 Conventions (they're the same price). Which you'll need depends on where you're off to. See the Is Your Driving Licence Valid? guide for full details.

    Beware websites selling 'international driving licences' – these aren't legally recognised documents so don't get caught out.

    Driving in the EU? Most don't need a permit, but you'll need a 'green card' (for now) if taking your car

    Prior to the trade deal being announced, the Government had warned international driving permits (IDP) could be widely required by Brits driving in the EU. However, the Department of Transport's now told us that in most cases you DON'T need an IDP to drive in the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein.

    If you're taking your own vehicle, you'll need a 'green card', though this is changing. This is an international certificate of insurance issued by insurance providers in the UK, guaranteeing that the motorist has the necessary minimum level of third-party cover (you may need to pay if you want a higher level of cover).

    The European Commission announced on 30 June that it would scrap the requirement for UK drivers to show a green card, but the change hasn't yet come into force. See our Brexit need-to-knows for more info.

  42. Book a cheap package just for the flight

    Scheduled flights to tourist places, such as Orlando and Sri Lanka, can be silly money, yet packages there can sometimes come in much cheaper.

    If you only need the flight, check if there's a cheaper package holiday, then grab it but DON'T stay in the hotel. 

    Martin once helped a friend book a £300 Sri Lanka holiday for the flight when the cheapest scheduled deal was £1,000+. See the Cheap Package Holidays guide.

  43. Check if you can save by splitting your ticket

    It's easy to search for flights from A to B but don't assume it's the cheapest way. It's commonly associated with trains (see our Cheap Train Tickets guide) but it can work with flights too, if you're willing to do the research.

    Use multi-destination options on screen scrapers mentioned above (top picks are Kayak*Skyscanner* and Momondo*) to see if you can save by flying to one airport and returning from another.

    Open-jaw tickets – for example (London Heathrow to Los Angeles and San Francisco to London Heathrow) may be cheaper than bog-standard returns. They can also eliminate the need for backtracking if you plan to visit more than one city. For more flight tricks, see the Cheap Flights guide.

  44. Beware car hire firms' pricey excess insurance

    If you're hiring a car, hopefully the closest you'll come to crashing is post-holiday ice-cream withdrawal. But if the worst happens, bear in mind that while there's some cover for hire car damage, there's usually a big problem:

    Check the 'excess' – the amount which you'll pay towards any claim. If it's high (£500ish), any scratches or minor damage will be expensive.

    To get round this, hire firms try to flog costly excess insurance at pick-up. This is usually a costly extra at about £25 a day, especially with cheap hire companies, as often their profits come from the insurance.

    Yet it's possible to grab cheap excess insurance for less than £2 a day via comparison site Money Maxim*. See full Cheapest Excess Insurance info.

  45. How to SLASH airport parking costs

    Airports often make more from parking and shopping than planes. Leave the car there without booking first and you risk sky-high rates, so don't just turn up. Booking first, even on the day, could save money.

    See the Cheap Airport Parking guide for the full technique, plus safety tips, how to snaffle hidden local discounts and more.

  46. Posh villas and apartments can cost £1,000 less than posh hotels

    holiday villa

    If you don't fancy battling for a sun-lounger each morning, villas offer space for large groups of friends, or families with kids who need to let off steam.

    As a rule of thumb, the larger the group, the bigger the per-person saving, so they're great if there's a party of you going. When we checked, we found a three-bedroom villa in Malaga priced at £352 for a week's stay in mid-August, compared with a nearby hotel costing £1,420.

    Direct booking sites let you quickly search for holiday rentals. Our top picks are* for global reach, Clickstay* for easy payments and  TripAdvisor*  for search. Be careful how you pay. You book directly with an owner, so there's less protection. Plus check it's not a fake villa – see Cheap Holiday Rentals for safety tips.

    Alternatively, you can rent out whole villas or apartments or just a room in people's homes on Airbnb. The idea is hosts put you up in their spare room or rent out their whole home to earn cash on the side. You can stay everywhere from swanky LA lofts to houseboats in Paris, and it's a great way to meet locals.

  47. Avoid the 'perfect trip' trap

    For many of us, a holiday's an invaluable way to relax and unwind – or gear up and party. Yet before you splash out, remember, the holiday industry is a beacon of commerciality. Travel marketing is honed to make you spend more and more, using emotive language such as "precious moments" and "magical memories". Don't be sucked in.

    Too many plan a dream holiday, then only consider later how they'll actually pay for it. That's a sure-fire way to end up disappointed or broke.

    Instead, ask "what can I afford to spend?" then work out how to have the best trip within that budget. A holiday lasts a week or so – don't ruin the rest of the year for it.

    Use the free Budget Planner tool to help plan. If you're saving for the trip, the Boost Your Income guide's crammed with tips to make extra cash.

  48. Get local travel info for free before you go

    local travel info

    If you plan to explore beyond a trip to the pool, pick your must-sees and transport before you go (see Car Hire Alternatives below).

    Forget to do this and you risk shelling out on pricey last-minute trips, or ending up stranded at the hotel.

    For ideas, TripAdvisor* has a handy 'things to do' section with reviews of holiday attractions, activities, nightlife and shopping. Travel guidebooks can also offer valuable local knowledge on the go. Instead of buying, try your local library.

  49. Know your rights if something goes wrong

    Our Holiday Rights guide explains all you need to know about delays, cancellations and more. We hope you won't need it but you may want to bookmark it in case it comes in handy.

  50. Bag 'free prints' promos for cheap holiday snaps


    Once you're back, there's a quick trick to grab massive savings on getting holiday snaps turned into glossy photos.

    Many photo printing sites offer a set number of free prints to entice new customers. By playing the field, you can use different deals to get loads of holiday snaps printed free, though you'll need to pay delivery. Check out our Free Photo Print deals.

  51. Don't get stung by luggage fees on the way back

    Many people jet home from a holiday with more than they took. Yet if you plan to shop, ensure you leave space in your luggage for the return journey when you pack. Forget to do this and you may be forced to pay extra charges to get it all home, or risk having to ditch your sombreros and straw donkeys at the airport.

  52. Off to the US? Beware unofficial ESTA sites

    Everyone going to the States by air or sea needs to fill out an Electronic System for Travel Authorisation (ESTA) form.

    Applications cost $14 each, yet beware Googling it. Do this and you may be directed to sites that pretend to be the official web page, and charge an additional fee to process your application. More details in Copycat Websites.

    Always apply via the official ESTA web page. See the ESTA guide for full info, including renewal help and safety tips.

  53. Hidden loophole gets up to 60% off posh hotels

    hotel key

    Giant US site Priceline* flogs posh hotel rooms at colossal discounts, and it's especially strong for US hotels.

    On Martin's own US trip he got even better than 60% off. He got a nice hotel for 63% of the comparison sites' cheapest price, but even he was beaten by one MoneySaver who got the Times Square Sheraton for £55/night rather than the listed £200.

    It's all about Priceline's "name your own price" function, where you pick a city area and star level, name your price and see if any hotels accept it. Of course the aim's to find the minimum acceptable price, so start low, then keep raising your bid till it's accepted – but you can ONLY bid once a day.

    There are also techniques to get more bids per day, including bidding with a partner, or adding more areas of a city. See our Secret Hotels guide for full help.

  54. Max Avios points for flights 'n' more

    Avios points scheme

    Avios is the points scheme formed from Air Miles and BA Miles in 2011 – you can use it to grab flights, upgrades and more (you still need to pay taxes and charges).

    Many mistake it for a frequent flyer scheme. It's actually a points scheme similar to Nectar and Clubcard, and there are loads of different ways to earn them.

    Unlike the old Air Miles system, Avios charges passengers taxes and fees on flights. But it has some benefits over its predecessor. Avios customers can book one-way and 'open-jaw' tickets – eg, London to Vegas, then LA to London – and can use points to upgrade cabin class.

    We've a full list of tips in Ways to Boost and Max Avios.

  55. Asked to pay in pounds or euros? Say euros

    Many overseas banks or shops ask this, especially in Spanish tourist resorts. If you choose pounds then the retailer does the currency conversion – rates are often poor compared to letting your card do it (by choosing the local currency), although things are closer than they used to be.

    If you've a top overseas card, always opt for the local currency as your card does the exchange and it's unbeatable.

    If you don't, it's touch and go, but it's still safer to go with euros, as the vendor can set its own rate if it wishes, which will usually be worse than the credit card rate. See Martin's blog: Using plastic overseas? Always pay in euros.

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  56. Bargain weekend break finder, eg, Nice £69

    weekend break finder

    If you're looking for a cheap weekend getaway, it's worth checking out (formerly Weekengo), a site which focuses on finding cheap breaks over... you guessed it, weekends.

    There are tons of offers, but some of the decent deals we've spotted previously include two nights in Nice for £69 per person, two nights in New York for £374 per person and three nights in Stuttgart for £154 per person. They all included your flights and a three or four-star hotel.

    Although says it updates prices several times a day, it's worth noting they can change quite quickly if the deals are snapped up. So you may occasionally find the price has risen when you click through.

    Important. is fairly new and we don't have much feedback yet, so make sure you double-check all details and the terms and conditions if you do decide to book. If you've used it, let us know your experiences on the forum.

    Quick questions:

    • sells some package holidays itself, but also offers what it calls 'Click & Mix' hols where it matches flights and hotels (similar to other travel comparison sites), and directs you to airlines and booking sites to pay for each separately. It wouldn't tell us how many it searches, but it includes biggies such as Easyjet, Ryanair, and Expedia.

      When we looked at 20 deals, we found two were sold by The rest were 'Click & Mix' deals.

      Because the site's all about weekend breaks, your travel days need to include Saturday and Sunday. But you can extend your trip a few days either side (between Thu-Tue) if you want to take a long weekend.

      You can select specific dates, but to find the very cheapest deals, choose 'next six months' or 'next six weeks' and sort the results by price.

      You can also filter trips by flight times, so if you work a traditional 9 to 5 job, you could look for flights leaving on a Friday evening and returning on a Sunday.

    • Once you've selected a departure airport, the days you want to travel and how many are in your group (up to four travellers), you'll then be shown a selection of destinations and given more options to filter your results.

      If you spot a deal you like, you can click 'view offers' and you'll be shown more details about the hotel and flights.

      • If it's a 'Click & Mix' deal you'll be directed to book the exact hotel/flights on the external sites, so you may need to make bookings on two separate sites.

      • If it's a package deal you'll be asked to enter the travellers' details and payment details (it accepts Amex, Visa and Mastercard credit cards). A 20% deposit will be taken at the time of booking, and the remainder will be taken 30 days before your trip. Once your balance has been paid, you'll be sent your airline tickets and hotel check-in details.

      Always compare prices before you book

      Of course, don't assume trips are cheapest on Always do your own checks and use a comparison site to see if you can find it cheaper. See our Cheap Hotels and Cheap Flights guides for more tips.

      If you're looking for a cheap break, it's also worth checking out Jack's Flight Club and Holiday Pirates.

      • All flights are non-stop, and include hand luggage only. You'll need to pay extra if you want to take hold luggage.

      • Hotels have a minimum of three stars. Plus they all offer free Wi-Fi and are centrally located.

        Though remember, star ratings are determined by amenities, not quality – a 5* rating is often based on a pool, big foyer and conference facilities, not how nice the place is. As there's no universal worldwide standard, treat them with a big pinch of salt.
    • Here's what to do if something goes wrong:
      • Booked a package holiday directly through Package holidays get financial protection (so you're entitled to a refund or to be brought home if necessary if the firm organising your package goes bust) AND legal protection (so you're covered if you don't get the holiday you paid for, eg, your hotel is overbooked or promised facilities are missing).

        See our Holiday Rights guide for full info.

      • Booked a 'Click & Mix' deal? If there's a problem you'll need to contact the firm you have paid for the booking.

        It's worth noting if you're delayed by more than three hours or your flight's cancelled, you're often entitled to £110-£520 in compensation. See our Flight Delays guide for full info.

        For more help, see our full Holiday Rights guide.
  57. Try hostels for cheap accommodation

    Don't think hostels automatically mean dorm bunks. Many offer singles, twins and doubles, and they can offer massive savings over hotel prices.

    While a few may be squalid, many are clean and friendly, even offering free internet access and breakfast. In the UK, Youth Hostel Association* (YHA) and Hostelling Scotland properties include fabulous castles and mansions.

    To check out prices and availability, use Hostelworld*, which gives hostels a percentage rating based on visitors' experiences. To read more reviews from past hostel guests and compare prices, try

  58. Make your own travel-size toiletries

    travel toiletries

    Travel-size lotions and potions can be pricey. Retailers know they're convenience goods and charge accordingly – but you don't have to pay through the nose to smell like a rose.

    When we checked, a 75ml travel size Sanctuary body lotion was £2.50 in Boots (£3.33 per 100ml). Yet the full-size version worked out at £2.60 per 100ml, around 20% cheaper if you'd buy a full bottle anyway.

    So instead of buying pricey travel size versions, grab some small clean empty bottles, and fill 'em up from your everyday toiletries (this is where complimentary mini-toiletry bottles from previous hotel stays come in handy).

  59. Driving in Europe? Check insurance, breakdown, equipment and road rules

    toy car on map

    It's easy to get caught up in the excitement of planning an overseas road trip, yet forget these tips and your dream drive may look more like a Mad Max outtake.

    Here are our top tips:

    • Car insurance. Most comprehensive or third party, fire and theft policies become third party outside the UK. They'll pay if you damage another car - or someone else's property - but not your own, and there's no cover if your car's stolen abroad.

      You may need to notify your insurer of your trip, so check your policy or call to confirm, and to see if you need a 'green card'. See Cheap Car Insurance.

    • Breakdown cover. Go outside the UK and often your breakdown cover isn't valid. Check and if it's not, you can either upgrade to a European policy or buy special one-off temporary cover. See Cheap Breakdown Cover.

    • Driving rules and requirements. Check country-by-country driving regulations in our Driving in Europe guide to ensure you're familiar with local rules and equipment you're required to carry before you go.

    • Do a maintenance check. Do all maintenance before you go, and ensure you've got manuals and the numbers to call if your vehicle breaks down.

    • Check if you need a sticker to avoid a £70 fine. Depending on where you're planning to drive, you may need to display an emissions sticker or badge on your windscreen. See our Driving in Europe guide for more info.
  60. Don't waste cash on energy while you're away

    Don't just turn off the biggies like lighting and heating before a big trip – also ensure you remember to turn off any TVs and gadgets on standby too.

    Many devices draw power when plugged in and not in use, so turn switches off at the wall if you can. It's also worth noting in winter you'll still need water to go through pipes at a minimal temperature, or you risk burst pipes. See the Energy Mythbusting guide for more tips.

  61. Compare travel meds prices to get 'em for less

    If you're jetting abroad, ensure you're vaccinated against any nasties before you go. Your local GP will offer some vaccinations for free, but others can cost around £50. Some even require more than one dose, meaning costs shoot up quickly.

    The NHS Fit For Travel site has a handy country-by-country guide, while the main NHS website lists which vaccinations are free and which cost.

    If you need to pay for travel meds, NHS prescription prices are fixed, but pharmacies can set their own for private prescriptions. These are given when you want a drug not covered by the NHS in your region, such as Malarone, which prevents malaria.

    See our Medicine Savings guide for more ways to save.

  62. Check big excursion ticket prices before you go

    Whether it's Disney, Universal Studios, a balloon trip or an aqua park, search early doors to see if there are web vouchers or cheap tickets. Specialist ticket agents can undercut buying direct, so use the theme park's own prices as a benchmark to beat.

    For full details see our Cheap Disney Tickets guide.

  63. Use a free app to keep track of your travel plans

    If you're planning a big trip, don't just let a mass of disorganised booking confirmation emails pile up.

    Download the handy smartphone app TripIt – available free for iPhone and Android. Simply forward all your confirmation emails to it and it'll automatically sort them into a smart itinerary. You can also try Remember The Milk – free on iPhoneAndroid and Blackberry – which helps organise to-do lists.

    Other tips:

    • An easy trick to keep on top of travel booking details is to set up a separate folder in your email inbox with a memorable title, eg, "Thailand 2021". Move booking confirmation emails in as soon as they arrive. Give it a quick check before you leave to make sure you've got all the key info.

    • Some bookings will need printouts on arrival, such as airport transfer vouchers. Forget these and you risk having to pay to use printing facilities at the airport, or face problems on arrival. So print them in good time and store them safely with your passport.

  64. Nab cheap France day returns for under £25

    If you're hopping across the Channel, it's often possible to get super-cheap day returns for under £25, sometimes even with a free case of wine thrown in. You can even swap £5 in Tesco Clubcard vouchers for £15 in Eurotunnel* vouchers.

  65. Consider car hire alternatives

    Before you book car hire for your hols, don't forget to consider the alternatives. Unnecessary car hire can be an expensive, unused hindrance.

    Car swaps, public transport and even taking your own car may work out cheaper for some destinations. Go through this checklist first:

    • Look into public transport. In Florida or LA, many will need a car for the huge city distances. But in New York you can't park anywhere, so the subway wins. Many European cities have great public transport, so always check.

    • Check taxi prices. If you plan to spend most of your time topping up your tan rather than travelling, a few taxi rides may be cheaper. International taxi fare calculator TaxiFareFinder gives an estimate of what journeys might cost.

    • Take your own car. If venturing onto Europe's roads, it may be possible to take your own car. All UK car insurance policies automatically provide the correct minimum cover required by law in all EU countries, but check if the full cover extends to Europe, and too see if you need a 'green card'. Full info in Cheap Car Insurance.
  66. DON'T accidentally invalidate your travel insurance

    Holidaymakers rely on travel insurance for complete peace of mind but if you fail to comply with the T&Cs you could be in for a nasty shock. Did you know something as simple as having a few drinks or leaving your luggage in the hotel storage room could invalidate a claim? And there are plenty of other common holiday habits that could do the same.

    See MSE Tony's blog: 8 things many of us do on holiday that could invalidate our insurance.

  67. Add your travel tips on the forum


    The Overseas Holidays and Travel Planning forum board is a great place to share your travel experiences with others. Whether you want to natter about MoneySaving in Las VegasWhat to do near Calais or tips on Singles' holidays, it's well worth a visit. Plus share your tips in the Travel Tips discussion.

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