Summer may still be a couple of months away, but plenty of us are already planning our summer holidays. After all, "we're all sophisticated travellers now", says Jo Thornhill in The Mail on Sunday, more likely to trek the Amazon than go on "boring bucket-and-spade-holidays on windswept British beaches". But there's one area in which we're not so sophisticated we're still bad at shopping around for the best deals and cutting the cost of our travel.
Take travel insurance. You certainly don't want to risk leaving home without it, but, according to Travelex, the average family adds almost £100 to the cost of their trip by not having the best value policy. That's because just one in ten people shop around, even though there are plenty of internet sites that will do it for you, such as Confused.com, Squaremouth.com and MoneySupermarket.com. Some notably MoneySupermarket.com even offer discounts on policies that aren't available direct from the insurer.
And when buying insurance, avoid the temptation to buy more cover than you need, says Martin Lewis on MoneySavingExpert.com. "Insurers' classic trick is why not upgrade to our platinum cover, with £20m worth of medical cover etc.' Yet the chance of needing medical limits over £2m is negligible." Of course, higher-risk activities, such as winter sports, will need more comprehensive cover, but shopping around should mean the extra premium isn't excessive. Another factor to bear in mind is the choice between single-trip and multiple-trip cover. Single trip can be good value, but as a rule of thumb "if you go away more than two times a year, including weekend breaks, you're better off with an annual policy", says Lewis.
Subscribe to MoneyWeek
Subscribe to MoneyWeek today and get your first six magazine issues absolutely FREE
You can also make substantial savings using the internet to find the best deal on flights. Brokers such as Expedia.com and Travelocity.com sometimes offer exclusive deals from the airlines, while screenscrapers' such as TravelSupermarket.com and Kelkoo.com search lots of airline and broker websites to find the best deals. Generally, screenscrapers are best for European flights, while brokers are likely to offer a better deal on long haul, says Lewis.
Many people forget about travel money, but while you should be able to withdraw it from ATMs abroad using your UK bank card, you'll often be hit by steep charges, says Thornhill. And changing money at the airport or the hotel will mean a poor exchange rate. So change it before you leave, but make sure you shop around while many UK providers charge no commission, exchange rates vary. Alternatively, Nationwide's Flexaccount makes no charge for cash withdrawals abroad.
Cris Sholto Heaton is an investment analyst and writer who has been contributing to MoneyWeek since 2006 and was managing editor of the magazine between 2016 and 2018. He is especially interested in international investing, believing many investors still focus too much on their home markets and that it pays to take advantage of all the opportunities the world offers. He often writes about Asian equities, international income and global asset allocation.
Cris began his career in financial services consultancy at PwC and Lane Clark & Peacock, before an abrupt change of direction into oil, gas and energy at Petroleum Economist and Platts and subsequently into investment research and writing. In addition to his articles for MoneyWeek, he also works with a number of asset managers, consultancies and financial information providers.
He holds the Chartered Financial Analyst designation and the Investment Management Certificate, as well as degrees in finance and mathematics. He has also studied acting, film-making and photography, and strongly suspects that an awareness of what makes a compelling story is just as important for understanding markets as any amount of qualifications.
How to invest in solving the housing shortage
Feature Buy-to-let may be losing its shine but there are other ways to invest in the property market
By Marc Shoffman Published
Financial Conduct Authority launches £600k campaign to encourage savers to switch – how much more could you earn?
News The City watchdog wants to encourage more people to switch their savings
By Marc Shoffman Published