How to avoid hidden extra costs on holiday

The build up to a holiday is incredibly exciting.  However, if you don’t have your wits about you, you can be hit with some unexpected costs that really take the shine off all that anticipation.  This article aims to empower you to minimise the hit to your wallet of those extra expenses that might pop up in your preparation for travelling.  Here are our 9 top things to look out for:

John and Brenda love to travel with statement glasses, Euros and magnifying glasses. Here they are in Vietnam of all places.

1. Airport parking or transfers

Getting to an airport and parking your car in the right place can cost up to £200 for a week. Ouch. First and foremost, plan ahead to get the best deal. If you want to park in an airport’s car park book online in advance; at Gatwick, the on-the-day price for a long stay is about £125 for a week but if you book online it is £89.

Another question to ask yourself is do you really need to park your car at the airport? There are some great valet services that will pick your car up at departures and then bring it back to you at arrivals with 20 minutes warning by phoning them. Tudor Rose, for example, offers very good service to and from Gatwick, providing a more pleasant experience than parking your car in an airport car park – who can find their vehicle after a long haul flight for example? With valet parking, you don’t need to worry about this.

Have you got an early start? Why not look for a hotel parking combo deal. Nearby hotels often offer up to 2-week long parking in combination with a stay at their hotel, with regular bus transfers to and from the airport. This can often work out cheaper than airport parking itself. Have a look at Airparks.com to find the best deals for your nearest airport.

2.  Currency exchange

If you are planning on using cash while you are away, try to avoid exchanging it into foreign currency at the airport. It’s a captive market and the bureaux know it – they’ll charge you premium rates. Whilst the Post Office and M&S offer some good exchange rates, there are some online tools that will help you find even better places to change your money. Have a look at the Travel Money Max website to find the bureaux closest to you with the best rates.

Finally, think about whether you should just get money straight from an ATM when you arrive. It’s usually the quickest and cheapest way to obtain local currency.  Especially if the local currency is not available out of the country.

3. Car rental

If you’re hiring a car abroad, there are a few tricks that’ll help you to avoid hidden costs. First of all, compare hire rates at a comparison site like RentalCars.com to get an idea of the price. The earlier you book, the more you can often save but if you’re travelling in peak season be prepared to pay peak rates.

Make sure you stick to your guns when car companies try to scare you about potential crashes or scratches and charge you lots for excess insurance. Icarinsurance offers some good deals with excess insurance starting from just £2 a day. Be prepared though, if you get a stand-alone excess insurance you’ll often be asked for credit card details as a guarantee. Another tip is to photograph your entire car before you set off on your trip – it will be useful if you’re accused of damaging it.

Also, don’t forget to get a DVLA code prior to car hire; this code gives temporary access to view your driving record and may be required by the hire company now that paper licences no longer exist.

4. Double check your bag allowance

Make sure that your luggage allowance fits both international and internal flight limits. Sometimes local carriers have a smaller maximum weight before you have to pay a surplus fee. And no one likes surplus fees.

5. Overseas card charges

Card companies often charge you for withdrawing money or using your card in a foreign country. Be aware of these charges by double checking your bank’s transaction fee. A recommended summary of some of the UK’s most common cards can be found here with associated costs.

6. Bad logistics

Double check your arrangements are actually money-saving. For example, you may economise by flying early in the morning, but hiring a taxi to get you to the airport when public transport isn’t working could mean this saving is lost.

7. Hotel extras

Be careful of additional charges in hotels. Mini bar drinks and snacks are famously expensive, so try to avoid them if possible. Resort fees are another hidden cost, although they can vary from $1 a day to $60 per day. Usually associated with luxury resorts they’re paid on checking out of the hotel, so before booking a resort double check that you won’t have to pay it and, if you do, how much to expect.

8. Budget for tipping

Before you got to your destination, think realistically about tipping. Have a research about what is the norm in the country. For those travelling to Asia, we’ve come up with a series of tipping guides which can help you here.

More tips regarding budgeting can be discussed with our travel experts.  Do call 020 3504 3726 or email us with your questions here. We’re happy to talk no matter what stage of your planning you’re in and there are no obligations.

9. Secret Hotel Hack

(Don’t tell anyone) – if a hotel charges for water in your room or you’ve run out and it’s mini bar only….head down to the gym if they’ve got one and fingers crossed they’ll be some free water kicking about. Oh and have a little jog whilst you are there.


If you’d like to talk to a travel specialist about your potential family holiday, do give us a call on 020 3627 3081  or email us here. You can see some examples of the kinds of trips we organise by looking at our website. All our trips are tailor-made though, so can be changed to suit your exact needs.


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