Things that will make you poor this summer
The summer holidays may bring fun with the family, sunshine, and a much needed break from work, but it can also leave you with nasty bills come Autumn if you make a few basic mistakes.
Use the wrong card and you can end up paying a hefty 1.5 to 2 per cent on all transactions or a chunky fixed fee. Adding insult to injury, some credit cards will also give you poor exchange rates on top. This is easily addressed by a little forward planning: ordering foreign currency online, or applying for a currency card.
Changes are afoot to limit roaming charges and mobile phone operators have worked harder to make charges more explicit. However, it’s still a quick way to rack up needlessly high bills, particularly when it is so easy to turn off data roaming. Mobile phone calls also do not come cheap and are best kept to a minimum.
Travel insurance and EHIC cards
Travelling without an EHIC card or travel insurance is dicing with financial ruin. A stay in a foreign hospital or an emergency flight home can run into thousands. You never know when your child is going to be bitten by one of the local sea creatures, or attempt an over-ambitious dive into the pool. EHIC cards offer some protection, but only to the equivalent standard of care that would be received in a UK hospital. Travel insurance is still a necessity to cover loss of luggage, emergency flights home and/or additional medical bills.
This can be a minefield. Accidents are more likely, given that you are driving on foreign roads, with foreign drivers, who may have (ahem) a different driving style to that of the UK. Car hire companies will often only offer minimum insurance cover as standard, with large excesses. The cautious would do well to invest in higher cover.
The tourist trap
It is reasonable to expect a little inflation for tourists over local prices. However, don’t be a mug, or too British to complain if you feel you’re being taken for a ride. Take all the usual precautions – ensure taxis are on a meter, agree prices for trips upfront and always be aware of what you’re paying.
Autumn is miserable enough. Don’t make it worse than it needs to be.