Useful Travel Information

Top tips for every traveller
Tip #3– How to travel smart throughout the recession

Airlines are squeezing passengers with one extra charge after another, the pound is virtually bedridden against the euro and the dollar and holiday companies are reducing their range of packages, if not actually going bust, in the face of reduced demand.
With all this uncertainty you’d be forgiven for never wanting to travel again. But think twice. Travel smart and you can make savings in some areas in order to splurge in others.

1/ Using your phone abroad
Consider changing your mobile phone tariff for the period you are away. The bigger providers offer free add-on deals that will bring down the cost of making and receiving calls abroad.
O2's International Traveller package saves you up to 80% on incoming and outgoing calls compared with standard rates. Making calls overseas costs 30p a minute and receiving them 18p a minute. Another option is to buy a global or local sim card; try Go-Sim, for example, whose card allows you to make calls in 175 countries.

2/ Money Take local cash with you abroad and, whatever you do, don’t get it from the airport – the exchange rate is too poor. The best place on the high street for exchanging currency, according to a recent Which? report, is at Chequepoint bureaux de change (£500 buys 935.55 Australian dollars, no commission is charged).
Online, according to the report, the best deals are from ICE (£500 buys AU$988.15) and Travelex (£500 buys AU$985.05). ICE will deliver your foreign currency if you exchange more than £300; Travelex will deliver if you exchange more than £500.
3/ Choose your destinations wisely Pick somewhere up-and-coming for your holiday. Less-visited places such as Indonesia can make good financial sense despite the longhaul flight. You’ll easily recoup the airfare thanks to low prices when you get there.
Closer to home, try eastern European destinations such as Slovenia and Hungary that not only have loads of appeal for tourists in terms of natural and cultural attractions but also remain largely unspoilt and, best of all, cheap.
4/ Be flexible with your holidays
Consider taking holidays in bite-sized chunks rather than a traditional week or fortnight. By being flexible with dates and travelling at off-peak periods you can find amazing travel deals, ranging from mid-week penny flights from easyJet through to cross-channel sailings for next to nothing.
Always check prices for different dates, and then check again as they change on a daily basis. Don’t be scared of the off season either – you’ll dodge the crowds and you stand to find much better accommodation at a better price.
5/ Do your homework -Thanks to the internet it’s easy to keep an eye out for online hotel and agency promotions offering free upgrades and meal deals. If you don’t see it offered – ask!
And while online, read other peoples’ experiences in online travel forums. You’ll get a much more rounded picture than that given by a travel agent or someone with a vested interest in the area. Also, save money and time by borrowing travel guides and maps from your local library.
7 / Use your debit card wisely - If carrying around cash makes you nervous and you travel fairly frequently, then it might be worth opening an account that you use only for travel overseas. Nationwide's FlexAccount, for example, does not charge you for withdrawing cash abroad.
8/ Find things to do for free - It’s surprising what you can see and do for next to nothing. A bit of research on your destination can reveal stacks of things to do that won’t cost a penny.
Ask the locals what they do. People usually love sharing stories and tips about their own neck of the woods, or look out for vouchers and money-off coupons, either at airports, cafes, petrol stations and tourist information offices.
Even in the UK, there are plenty of budget events to make your pound travel further: just ask local tourist boards or read our article on 30 free things to do in the UK.

9/ Don’t buy food at the airport - Remember to pack some food from the supermarket prior to setting off for the airport. Stopping at service stations or treating the family to a slap-up meal when you get to the terminal could prove a needless expense. Even a few bottles of water packed beforehand will save you money better spent overseas.
10/ Travel lighter - Travelling light has never been more imperative. Security regulations have made carrying things such as toiletries a real drag. If you’re going somewhere with a good exchange rate, buy them when you get there.
Similarly, baggage restrictions are getting tighter and budget airlines make you pay a dividend for checking luggage in and for carrying extra bags. Be ruthless and take fewer clothes. If you can stick to hand luggage, you’ll save a packet.
11/ Drive only when you need to
Petrol prices can really hurt, so leave the car at home if you're travelling in the UK. Some cracking public transport deals are right there under your nose. For example, the Scotrail overnight sleeper from London to Scotland starts from just £19 one-way; also factor into that price the saving on a night's accommodation.
Or combine train and boat if travelling abroad. Get from London to Europe via the Hook of Holland for just £25 one-way by train and Stena Line, which sells rail and sail packages.
Once overseas, instead of hiring a rental car, choose public transport, ride a bike or simply walk. You'll be doing exercise while saving money and seeing things at a more leisurely pace. But if you have to hire a car, make sure you research the best deals. Try a budget car hire search site such as Holiday Autos or search online.
12/ Speak the lingo
Better deals, nicer locations and top tips from locals will all be yours if you muster up the courage to try a few sentences – not to mention a warmer reception. Taking a quick language class at home in conversational Spanish, French or Turkish, say, will not only save you money on location but is a reliable way to meet new friends (and possible travel companions) and keep your brain sharp.
13/ Try house swap
Moving into a stranger's house temporarily may take a little getting used to but house-swapping can reap big benefits, namely no hotel costs as your house-swapping partners take advantage of your empty house back home and you stay in theirs.
Rent your house out and stay in someone else’s overseas without paying a thing. Homelink lists houses to swap in 75 countries worldwide; you can also swap cars, so you're getting free transport thrown in, too.
Slaving over a hot stove might not be your idea of a holiday but the money saved by self-catering will make it feel like less of a chore. Find an apartment or chalet with a decent kitchen, and get the whole family involved in a team effort. Try offering a treat or prize for which of your offspring is most helpful.
Consider a good old camping trip, and don’t write off the new breed of hostels either: they are more family and couple-friendly than ever before. Tents these days aren't the torturous things of yore. Most have lightweight, flexible poles that enable you to assemble the tent, after practising once or twice, within minutes. Good models are available for under £100.


Executive Traveller 2003