Home Advice Family Holiday Essentials: top tips to help you buy and save!

Family Holiday Essentials: top tips to help you buy and save!

by Tash 9th March 2015
Travel Documents

Buying your dream holiday abroad with the kids will probably be one of the biggest spends you’ll make this year, so once the flight’s booked and the itinerary’s planned, it’s worth thinking about how to save on your essential holiday extras! To make life easier, we’ve put together 5 top tips to guide you on when to buy and ways to save.

Travel Insurance – the sooner you buy, the better

Make sure you’re covered for any eventuality – from a lost suitcase to a real medical emergency – and always take out travel insurance the minute you book your trip. If the unthinkable happens and you have to postpone your holiday, you’ll avoid any cancellation costs.

It’s a good idea to compare policy prices before you buy, as it’s possible to get cheaper deals if you shop around. Try sites like Money Supermarket or gocompare for cost effective deals. But remember, the cheapest policy may not be the best. Look for the cover you need, at the best possible price, which should usually include:

Cancellation costs

Loss of baggage

Medical treatment and emergency repatriation


Public liability   

Foreign Currency – splash less cash, use a cash card

It’s always best to take a small amount of currency with you when you go on holiday.

The golden rule on this one is to plan ahead: never buy your currency last minute at the airport or you’ll be hit by poor exchange rates, as well as hefty commission charges. And remember, commission-free doesn’t necessarily mean you’re getting the best deal, as fees may have already been added in to the rate.

But while cash is easy to use it’s also easy to lose, so ensure you also have the right credit or prepaid cash card before you travel. This is by far the cheapest way to spend abroad and is a good way to avoid paying those unexpected fees or charges. There are many cards out there but for help getting started, try the Travelmoney website from the money saving expert Martin Lewis. (155)

Car Hire – first stop, public transport

Do you really need car hire for that perfect family holiday experience? Many destinations have excellent public transport networks, which can offer low cost and convenient travel. Try a little bit of local research and you could save a lot of cash!

If you really can’t manage without your own set of wheels, here are 3 essential things to do to find great value holiday car hire:

Compare, compare, compare If you do decide to hire, hit the comparison sites first to find the best deals online. Carrentals is a great site to try and very easy to use.

Book early for the biggest savings, preferably several months in advance! Typical daily hire rates available on arrival in resort can be as much as double or even treble the advance online rates, so don’t delay.

Avoid hidden extras before booking – For a family holiday, child seats and boosters are often only available at an additional high daily rate. Consider taking your own seat instead, as many airlines allow these to be checked-in for free. 

Buying the right sun cream for your family

If there’s one thing you shouldn’t skimp on, it’s buying a sun cream that’s guaranteed to provide maximum protection in hotter climes. But how do you know if you’re getting good value for money? The recommended minimum SPF (sun protection factor) for adults is 15, but if you have pale, fair skin or for young children, 30 SPF is a better choice. A broad-spectrum brand is best, with a high four or five star rating.

Value for money – Be warned, sun cream is one market where price is definitely no guide to quality. Tests conducted by the consumer organisation ‘Which?’ found that some well known brands priced at the higher end of the market failed on SPF levels. Our advice is to read the reviews and choose a cream you can trust. 

Save, save, save! – Once you’ve got your favourite band, search for the best deals around. mySupermarket is a great site for comparing the best prices across retailers, so you can make sure your fun in the sun doesn’t come at too high a price.

Keeping mobile costs abroad to a minimum

Do you really need to make that call or check your emails daily?  If that’s a ‘yes’, keep mobile costs to a minimum by switching off data roaming for the duration of your holiday. This prevents apps downloading data automatically; you don’t need to be browsing the web for costs to be mounting! Here are 3 more ways to save on mobile costs on holiday:

Free Wi-Fi – Make the most of free Wi-Fi provided by many hotels and campsites. Try free apps like Skype or FaceTime to make free mobile calls via Wi-Fi (just make sure the person you’re planning to call also has these apps).

Roaming add ons – If you’re only likely to be making a few calls while you’re away, then one of the best ways to save is to sign up for a roaming add on from your own network. Some of these are free; others charge a fee, so check before you buy!

Local sims – Another way to save is to switch sim cards and buy a local sim for the country you’re visiting. You can either buy these on arrival at your destination or they’re also available in advance. This gives you a new UK number that friends and family can use to call at no cost.

Put our savings to the test!

We want you to put our savings tips to the test and see how much you can save on those holiday essentials this summer! Let us know how you get on and if you’ve come across any super deals of your own, why not share in the comments section below?

Take a look at more budget-busting holiday tips >

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