Ten travel hacks that will save you cash

Written by
Jenni Hill
Finances expert
5 min read
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After being grounded for nearly two years, many of us will be dreaming about hopping on a plane and having a much-needed break from it all – whenever that may be.

If you’re desperate for a vacation but on a tight budget, here's a few ways to hack your holiday.

Plump up your packing with a pillow

If you've ever booked what you believed to be bargain flights, only to discover your luggage will cost more than the flight itself, you're not alone.

One way to get more luggage onto your flight - without having to pay over the odds for extra baggage – is to pack an empty, zipped pillowcase to fill with extra clothing.

Many airlines will allow you to bring a pillow aboard, and as long as the case is closed “like a bag” and doesn’t contain banned items, it wouldn’t be a security concern.

However, some airlines may count it as a personal item, so check what pillow size is appropriate for your airline to avoid additional fees - when that’s exactly what you’re trying to avoid.

Save on suitcase space – and the pennies – and pack an extension lead.

Hide your cash in plain sight

You seldom see a swimsuit with pockets. So how are you meant to keep your cash safe when you’re at the beach?

Hide it in plain sight with a tube of lip balm.

First, wind the stick all the way up so that you can remove the contents. (You could always put this into another small, empty pot if you don’t want it to go to waste.)

Then give it a good wipe out with a cotton bud.

Grab your cash, fold and roll the banknote, then you can pop it in.

Power up your gadgets

If you’re finally heading off on holiday, save your pennies on costly plug converters and pack an extension lead.

This way, you won’t need to invest in a bunch of travel adapters – often about £6 a pop – and your savings can soon add up.

Get more bang for your buck and buy early

Buying travel insurance as soon as you book means you’re covered before your holiday even starts - if something happens that means you need to cancel the trip, you’ll be covered for the period leading up to your departure.

From illness to travel disruption, there are all kinds of reasons why a holiday might need to be cancelled.

And by purchasing an insurance policy that comes with cancellation cover, you’ll have peace of mind that you won’t have to spend your savings on a trip that never happens.

The Brexit trade deal failed to include protection from roaming charges, meaning many Brits holidaying in Europe may soon be hit with unexpected fees

Try this cheeky hack for extra leg room

If you’re flying with one other person and the rows are three seats across, choose the aisle and the window seat.

If the flight doesn’t get fully booked, the middle seat is less likely to be snapped up.

This could of course backfire if someone does take that seat, but perhaps they’ll be willing to swap if you offer them the choice of the window or aisle, so at least you and your travel buddy can sit together.

Don’t get caught out by sneaky roaming charges

In 2017, mobile networks in EU countries were banned from charging customers extra for using their phone in other member countries.

Unfortunately, the Brexit trade deal failed to include protection from roaming charges, meaning many Brits holidaying in Europe may soon be hit with unexpected fees.

Some networks are still honouring the legislation, but others have started to reintroduce the charges. Check with your provider before travelling to find out where you stand.

Make the most of Google Maps’ offline feature

You can often avoid making calls and texts by using Wi-Fi instead.

Most cafes, restaurants and even some museums will give you their password if you ask.

Worried about finding your way around?

Google Maps has an offline feature which allows you to download a map of an area when you have access to the internet and access it later when you’ve no longer got connectivity.

You don’t need to fly business class to access an airport lounge.

Embrace parent perks

Did you know that some airlines will let you check in car seats and collapsible pushchairs for free?

Even some of the cheaper airlines with a reputation for frugality have surprisingly generous baggage policies for parents.

Renting car seats and buggies while you’re away can be a costly affair, so this hack could save you hundreds.

Whether you’re checking in a car seat or a pram, it’s a good idea to wrap it in plastic wrap and lots of tape.

You might be able to sneak a couple of towels in there to save space in your suitcase.

Get into the airport lounge for no extra cost

You don’t need to fly business class to access an airport lounge.

There are certain credit cards, bank accounts and frequent flyer clubs that’ll get you through the door at no extra cost.

Alternatively, you could pay for a one-off pass.

These can start from around £20 per person and if you find a lounge that offers free food and drink, it’s easy to make this money back.

Ditch dinner

Don’t worry, we’re not suggesting you go hungry.

If you like dining out while on holiday, go out for breakfast or lunch instead of dinner.

It’s usually much cheaper and you could even combine the two and have a big brunch. In the evening, you could opt for supermarket sandwiches and delicious pastries from nearby bakeries.

3 things to do right now...

Check your accommodation has a compassionate cancellation policy.

Get your travel insurance when you book your trip. Don’t leave it until the last minute.

Ask your mobile network if you’ll face any roaming charges and if so, make a note of places near to where you’re staying that have free Wi-Fi.

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Don’t forget that while you may think that this article is brilliant, it is intended for information purposes only and should not be mistaken for financial advice or recommendations.