We love treating ourselves abroad – and deservedly so; but where do we draw the line? A little too much holiday spirit turns even the most frugal into frivolous spenders, treating money as if it grows on… palm trees.
The beer and prosecco may be on tap, but unless you’re one of the fortunate few, your cash probably isn’t. So, to make sure you don’t go overboard when you’re abroad, here are some tips for curbing your spending. And no, it doesn’t involve stuffing your pockets with food from the breakfast buffet…
Before your trip: Research exchange rates
Buying foreign currency should never be left to the last minute, with a Post Office study cited by the Guardian showing that Brits waste over £21m a year exchanging cash at the airport instead of getting a better rate beforehand. Look around for the best deals before buying, bearing in mind online rates are typically better than in-store.
Choose the right card
Prefer to pay with plastic? Then choose a card that’s suited to overseas spending. Debit cards often charge a small fee for each transaction and withdrawal, while credit card providers tend to levy an exchange rate fee of up to 3% on withdrawals. Another option is to get yourself a pre-paid travel card; similar to a debit card, you load it up with cash and can only spend what’s on there, making it a good option if you want to rein-in your spending.
All providers offer different deals so do your homework, read the small print, and weigh up the charges. A credit card might come with an interest-free purchase period, but you might get stung through high loading or withdrawal fees. Sadly, not even the strongest repellent can keep those pesky charges away.
When you’re there: Set a daily budget
Setting a daily budget will mean you have a figure in mind when spending your money; you’ll be able to tell whether you can really afford to buy that second bottle of wine with lunch, or whether you should save the cash for dinner. If, out of the two of you, you’re the one who loves a good spreadsheet, budget planning could be your job – it needs to account for food, drinks, trips and transport plus a little extra for unforeseen costs. Overspending can also be prevented by only withdrawing your budget each day from the ATM.
Switch off data roaming
It’s not exactly breaking news: using the internet abroad eats into your data. But you don’t need to be surfing the web all day long for data to get used up; apps update automatically and could leave you footing a hefty phone bill on your return to home. Save yourself the hassle by switching off data roaming before you board.
Eat like a local
We’re a hungry bunch, apparently. A Skyscanner report found that British holidaymakers overspend the most on food (up to 55%) and drink (40%). Diet? What diet?
It’s very possible to indulge inexpensively. Making savvy dining choices by choosing local eateries away from tourist hotspots will keep you full and satisfied for a fraction of the price. Plus, dinner with the locals offers a far more authentic experience, and you can bet the food will be tastier too.
* Skyscanner report
Pay in local currency
Dynamic currency is when the cost of a transaction on your credit card is converted back to your home currency at the point of sale. You’ll often be asked if you’d like to pay in GBP but try to refrain - you’re likely to pay an inflated price for the privilege.
Don’t splurge on souvenirs
Don’t worry, your best mate really won’t be that disappointed if you don’t bring them home a novelty fridge magnet. Resist the temptation to embark on a souvenir shop spending spree, as this is a sure-fire way to blow your budget. You could also face extra baggage fees at the airport due to your bulging bag of mementos.
You want to return from your trip feeling refreshed and relaxed, not stressed about your excessive spending. Who knows? By taking simple steps to budget wisely and control costs, you might even find that you have some cash left to roll into next year’s holiday fund.
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