moneysavingholidaysTop tips for saving money on holiday




Car hire
If you hire a car for at least two weeks a year, it’s worth taking out insurance to cover the extras demanded by rental firms at foreign airports. It’s the only way to beat the “super collision damage waiver (CDW)” car hire sting that typically adds around £30 a week to a car hire bill.

Go to a website such as – which, for an annual premium of £49 (Europe) or £65 (worldwide), will cover you for this.

According to a country-by-country guide from M&S Travel Money published this weekend, British families could save £135 a year by reading up on the tipping etiquette of their destination before they go.

In France, the law requires service to be included in restaurant bills (usually around 15%), so don’t add any extra. It says €1 is “adequate” for hotel porters.

In Italy, no additional tip is required on restaurant bills as it comes under the automatic “coperto” cover charge. “Tips are also not expected in bars or taxis,” says the M&S guide.

In Spain, 5-10% is customary in restaurants, while in Turkey it is closer to 5%, except in upmarket eateries. But at a Turkish bath you should tip 15%.

The US is the world capital of tipping. The accepted rate is 15-20% in restaurants, while bartenders expect $2 per drink, per round. Room service is $9 a day, “and it is common practice also to tip the concierge/doormen and tour guides around $20.” Taxi drivers will expect at least 10%.

Mobile phone calls
“Roaming” charges apply as soon as you use your phone in a foreign country, and the bills can easily mount up. The good news is that new price caps on roaming calls took effect on 1 July. Most Britons will notice a dramatic fall in texting prices; the European Commission has set a maximum cost of sending a cross-border text at €0.11 – which most UK phone companies have interpreted as £0.11. Receiving a text message is free, regardless of where you are.

The EC has also set a cap for voice calls. This is now €0.43, and is due to fall to €0.39 and then €0.35 over the next two years. The maximum price for receiving a call is now €0.19.

The main beneficiaries of the price falls have been pay-as-you-go users who, in the past, paid substantially more for roaming than contract users.

Because it costs nothing to receive a text, this remains the most cost-effective way to communicate while abroad.

Airline booking fees
When using a standard debit or credit card, Ryanair charges £5 per person per single journey. EasyJet charges a minimum £2.95 booking fee. But if you have a Visa Electron debit card, there are no card charges. To obtain an Electron card, try and open an Easycash account online.

Travel guides
Save on buying travel guides and maps by borrowing them from your local library. You can even obtain OS maps for walking holidays. Or go to for budget ideas on locations, hotels, restaurants and so on, posted by Guardian readers. The Guardian’s travel website also has city and country guides.

Buy before you fly
Most holiday essentials are cheaper in the UK than almost anywhere in the world apart from the US, according to a recent survey by Visa. But the survey also threw up some oddities: Germany is cheapest for Speedos, Bulgaria for Samsonite luggage and the Czech Republic the best for Jungle Formula mosquito repellent.

If you are travelling long-haul this summer, you may need some vaccinations – but don’t assume you have to pay. Several travel vaccinations are free on the NHS, including smallpox, typhoid, hepatitis A, and poliomyelitis.

If a combined vaccine covering both hepatitis A and hepatitis B is offered, this is also free. But it’s up to individual GP services whether to offer travel jabs – some may refer you to a specialist travel clinic. The following vaccines are not normally available on the NHS: hepatitis B, rabies, Japanese encephalitis, meningococcal vaccines, tick-borne encephalitis, and yellow fever.

You can also get travel vaccinations (and malaria tablets) at private sector clinics that typically offer walk-in services – this may appeal if your timeframe is short.

More information from the NHS on travel jabs.

Sun tan lotion
According to a Which? survey, Sainsbury’s £3 Sun Protect lotion and Asda’s £3 Sun System rank alongside more expensive brands and, in many cases, offer better protection.

Thieves may be attracted to that pile of unopened mail on your doormat, so arrange for someone to collect your mail or, alternatively, make use of the Royal Mail’s Keepsafe service, which holds your mail for the duration of your holiday then delivers it upon your return. Keepsafe costs £8.50 for up to 17 days.