Martin Lewis issues 10 important travel checks ahead of going abroad
Martin Lewis has issued 10 important travel warnings to UK holidaymakers following the recent chaos of passport delays and in anticipation of a busy summer holiday season.
The MoneySavingExpert founder said “it’s never been more important for your pocket to prepare” ahead of travelling abroad given the ongoing cost of living crisis.
Writing in the latest MoneySavingExpert newsletter, Mr Lewis said: “The cost of living crisis may now be firmly in play, but millions had already booked summer holidays earlier in the year.
“Around 60% of the 60,000+ who replied to my Twitter poll last week said they plan to leave UK shores and holiday abroad this year (or already have).
“So with the first big post-lockdown holiday season fast approaching, it’s never been more important for your pocket to prepare.”
What are Martin Lewis’ travel tips?
Mr Lewis has issued 10 key tips for those jetting off on their holidays this summer to help save on costs.
1. Check your passport expiry date
The UK’s departure from the European Union means that more countries now require UK passports to have months left on them to be allowed entry.
Under Schengen area rules, passports must be less than 10 years old on the day you enter and be valid for at least three months after the day you plan to leave.
If you need to renew your passport you should do this as soon as possible as there are long processing delays right now, with the Home Office warning that passport renewals could take up to ten weeks.
2. Check hotel prices
Travellers should keep an eye on hotel prices to try and get a better value deal.
If the price of your hotel has dropped and you have free cancellation with your booking, you can simply rebook for less.
If you do have to pay for cancellation, then tally up whether you would still save money if you take into account the cancellation fee compared to the new price.
3. Check for EU roaming fees
Vodafone, EE and Sky have all reintroduced roaming charges for customers who are abroad in the EU, with each firm now charging £2 a day for using your UK allowance.
Three and Voxi are due to bring back roaming fees from 23 May with both also charging £2.
However, you may be able to cut costs by buying a bundle, depending on how long you are away for.
4. Check you’ve got a valid GHIC or EHIC card
The European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) is being replaced by the Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC). These cards give you access to state-run hospitals or GPs in EU countries for the same price as a local.
If you have an existing EHIC, it will remain valid until the expiry date runs out. After this, you will need to apply for a GHIC card.
Non-UK nationals living in the UK before 1 January 2021 can still apply for an EHIC.
5. Check for the cheapest currency
Always compare prices online to make sure you are getting the best exchange rate, for example by using MoneySupermarket.
Mr Lewis has warned that you may find it cheaper to use a specialist travel card when abroad rather than exchanging cash before you go.
He said: "The standout top pick today is, unusually, a debit card.
"Newish fee-free app-only Chase Bank has that near-perfect exchange rate, lets you withdraw £700/month from ATMs fee-free, plus as it pays 1% cashback on most spending in the UK and abroad, it’s unbeatable."
6. Check if you need a Covid test
You no longer need to test when returning to the UK but you still need to check what the rules are for your holiday destination.
Many countries including the USA, New Zealand and Japan still require travellers to take one Covid test to gain entry.
You can check the latest foreign travel advice for your destination on the Gov.uk website.
7. Check if you need to pay for a seat
Mr Lewis warned how a family of four could pay up to £240 extra to guarantee they sit together on return flights, but some airlines including easyJet and Norwegian will allow you to sit together for free - providing you wait until you check in.
Ryanair always sits groups separately and on a "random" basis unless you pay for seats.
8. Check car hire prices
Booking car hire prices as early as possible is normally the best way to get the cheapest prices, according to the MoneySavingExpert.
He said: "We can find August car hire for around £35/day in various Spanish destinations."Our guess from previous patterns would be that if you leave it to much nearer the day, that could rise to as high as £80."
9. Be aware of car insurance selling
Most car hire firms will include basic insurance when you lease a vehicle from them, but some may try to sell you "excess" cover when you pick up the car - costing up to £25 per day.
Instead, standalone car hire "excess" insurance can cost just £2 per day if you book online for a separate company.
10. Check airport parking prices
Comparing airport parking prices and booking as far in advance as you can means you will avoid having to pay expensive on-the-day charges.
Mr Lewis said: "Turn up at Manchester Airport’s long-stay car park and it’s £350/week, yet prebooked on the day, park & ride is just £58/week.”
Each airport website has information on its parking charges.