09 February 2015

Holiday hotspots 2015

At this time of year, many of us are looking forward to jetting off on holiday and letting our hair down for a week or two in the sun.

With flight bookings, accommodation and spending money to take into account, it can be a bit of an art finding the best value summer holiday. We look at some of the options available.

Where are the best value places to go?

Looking for the cheapest dose of holiday sun, sea and sand? Some of the best places to get more beach for your buck in 2015 include Tunisia, the Algarve and Romania, according to Lonely Planet, thanks to improved budget flight connections, and in Tunisia’s case, the lifting of travel warnings in the north-east coastal regions. (Travellers are advised to regularly check these warnings before departure).

If your tastes run to European cultural breaks, Latvia may be an option worth exploring. After joining the euro in 2014 it has quickly become popular as a cheap holiday destination, with the number of hotel stays almost doubling between 2009 and 2014. Its capital, Riga, was named as last year’s European Capital of Culture.

For those longing for more tropical shores, the places to watch are volcanic island paradise Bali, which offers good all-round costs and affordable spa treatments, and the less-developed Samoa, which is easily combined with a visit to Australia and New Zealand if you're considering a longer multi-stop trip.

What about day to day holiday costs?

What about the costs of meals, drinks and other bits and pieces once you’re there? The Algarve is one of the cheapest parts of Europe when it comes to everyday expenses, according to the Post Office’s Travel Barometer. An evening meal for two here costs around £19 – less than a third of the average cost in Italy (£60.24), and less than half of the going rate in Croatia (£46.51).

Worldwide, the priciest daily costs are in:

  • China
  • Australia
  • New Zealand 

A coffee in Beijing will cost around £3.77, while a bottle of beer in Auckland is closer to £4. Your travel spending money is likely to go furthest in:

  • Mexico
  • Bali
  • South Africa 

A glass of wine in Cape Town is likely to set you back just £1.50, while Balinese sunscreen is around £2.46 for 200ml – quite a bit cheaper than buying before you leave.

How else could I make holiday savings?

Book airport parking in advance

Some websites offer savings of up to 60% when you book your airport parking in advance, so make sure you don't leave it until the day of travel!

Check your mobile

UK networks can add roaming charges when you use your phone abroad, so you can easily rack up a huge bill. If you're planning on uploading your holiday pics to social media while you're away, data usage can be particularly costly. 

Make sure you switch off data roaming in your phone settings before you leave. Alternatively, your network operator may be able to offer you a special add-on for minutes and data while you’re away.

Don't forget your travel money

Exchange rates fluctuate all the time, so it makes sense to get the best deal possible before you jet off. If you know the rate you’re getting in advance, it’s easier to plan what you'll spend while you’re away. Which? recommends shopping around online to find the best travel money deals before you go, as there are often special rates for online customers.

Get travel insurance

It's only when something goes wrong that you're glad of travel insurance, but it's important you don't overlook it when planning your holiday budget. It can cover you for a number of setbacks, including cancellation, lost luggage and medical expenses.

Some insurers have specific policies for different regions, so make sure you have appropriate cover; e.g: if you're planning to take part in winter sports or travel outside the EU, make sure it's included in your policy. If you're travelling within the EU, get a free European Health Insurance card (EHIC) to go with your travel insurance as it proves your entitlement to state-funded healthcare.

Before you shop around for travel insurance, it's worth checking whether you're covered on an existing policy or if you have travel insurance included with another service, like your current account. If you're a Nationwide FlexAccount customer for example, you may have access to free UK and European travel insurance* as one of your account benefits. (eligibility criteria applies).

Check card charges before you leave

You can end up paying a range of additional charges - including foreign usage fee and cash withdrawal fees, just for using your debit card or credit card abroad.

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