10 ways to cut travel costs

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You’ve scoured the hotel comparison sites, found the cheapest airfares, and booked everything months in advance – but how to save even more money on your holiday?

From paying by the right card to keeping an eye out for travel discounts, there are all kinds of ways to save money while away from home. Travel expert Hazel Plush tells us more…

Purchase wisely

shop wisely

We all know that airport shopping comes at a premium – but how much? Well, if you buy a Travel Blue Tranquillity Pillow at Heathrow Airport, it’ll cost you £29.16 – versus £16.99 for the same one at trekinn.com. Compression socks cost £17.99 airside, or just £7.89 from Asda. The price of mineral water is also considerably hiked up at the airport, take an empty bottle in your hand-luggage and fill it at a drinking station or café.

Shop around for airport parking

airport parking

Rather than pay exorbitant airport parking fees, you could save up to 70%, compared with the price you’d pay on the day, with Boundless partner Holiday Extras (boundless.co.uk/holidayextras). You get a Boundless discount on top of that, too. Or, try parkonmydrive.com, which lets drivers rent spaces from signed-up homeowners. Booking six months in advance, I found parking near Birmingham International Airport for just £23 for one week. 

Pay by card where possible

pay by card

Prepaid cards such as those from Revolut and Wise, and banks including Starling that don’t charge foreign transaction fees, have been covered in previous issues. They’re good ways to spend when you’re abroad, but an international credit card saves you the hassle of loading a card before you go, and it can also be a wise move. “Barclaycard Rewards is impressive,” says Rob Burgess, editor of travel rewards website headforpoints.com. “The card is free, there are no exchange fees for purchases or cash withdrawals – and you get 0.25% cashback on all spending.” If you withdraw cash overseas on your credit card, pay your bill on time – even if it means you have to do it by bank transfer while abroad – to avoid any steep interest fees you might incur for a late payment.

Make sure to buy travel insurance

travel insurance

Buying travel insurance early doesn’t make it any cheaper but it could still save you serious money: “Always purchase cover as soon as you’ve booked a holiday, just in case you need to cancel it,” advises Fiona Macrae of consumer awareness initiative Travel Insurance Explained (travelinsuranceexplained.co.uk). And don’t be dazzled by rock-bottom premiums: with medical repatriation flights from Europe costing up to £20,000, and those from further afield tens of thousands more, it pays to have generous limits. But there could also be a sneaky way to save, says Fiona: “Depending on how often you travel, it may be more cost effective to buy a multi-trip policy, which covers you for a 12-month period.” And don’t forget you can save 5% on travel insurance with LV= (boundless.co.uk/lvtravel). 

Book your wheels early

book your wheels

Thanks to supply chain shortages, the cost of renting a car has risen over the past year, so booking in advance won’t just help you secure the best deal but should ensure you get the vehicle you want. If you’re flying, a cheap red-eye arrival could cost you extra in the long run: “We advise picking up and dropping off during working hours, to avoid out-of-hours penalties,” says Anna Rachko from comparison website discovercars.com. Your Boundless membership secures discounts with three car hire companies, so check those out – and shop around: “Some companies provide in-terminal airport pick-up, but others are off-site with free shuttle buses – as they don’t incur airport fees, they can offer great deals.” 

Don’t forget your ID

id card

Eligible for retiree, student or veteran concessions? Make sure you pack the ID that proves it. Attractions, museums and public transport all over the world offer such discounts, it’s not just the UK – and it never hurts to ask when you’re there, too! 

Beware data rip-offs

avoid scams

If you’re travelling in the EU, remember that some mobile phone companies, including EE, Three and Vodafone, have reintroduced data roaming charges in Europe, so check your mobile plan before you depart. Providers who don’t charge for roaming may still restrict your data allowance and charge you for using additional data. There are caps and warnings to protect you from sky-high bills, but to avoid surprises you could set your own cap, check if you can get an overseas bundle, or stick to using WiFi – it may be cheaper to pay for a hotel’s package rather than face roaming fees. 

Be discount savvy

discount codes

For sightseeing attractions, look out for local deals from websites such as Groupon, LivingSocial and Wowcher. In Dubai, groupon.ae offers fast-track entry to The View at The Palm observation deck for AED72 (around £17.50), rather than the turnstile price of AED120 (£30), while a VIP desert tour and barbecue is priced from AED118 (£28.50), an impressive discount of AED212 (£51.50) on the RRP. 

Plan your transfer

plan your transfer

Getting a lift to the airport? Beware drop-off fees: a kiss goodbye at Gatwick Airport departures costs £5 minimum, rising to a maximum of £25 for a stay of 30 minutes. Factoring in petrol prices too, it might be cheaper to take public transport all the way. If you’re heading to Heathrow, consider a lift to Hatton Cross tube station: it’s in the airport’s ‘free travel zone’, so all journeys to and from the terminals are gratis – and you’ll also avoid Heathrow’s £5 drop-off fee. 

Check the small print

check the small print

From overweight luggage charges to unexpected visa fees, there are plenty of ways to get caught out while you travel. In parts of Germany, did you know that driving without the correct emissions sticker can trigger a €100 (£87.50) penalty? Or that when flying with Ryanair, not checking-in online incurs a £55 fee? It pays to know the rules.

Do more with Boundless

Save even more with Holiday Extras

Book airport parking before 28 February 2023 and get 7% off your booking instead of the usual discount of 5%. Holiday Extras offers a wide range of parking options, with over 35,000 parking spaces across 29 UK airports saving you Up to 70% off, plus  an additional 5% as a Boundless members. boundless.co.uk/holidayextras

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