How to get the best out of your holiday

Make sure you have checked the maximum weight allowance for luggage on your flight before you pack, in order to avoid excess baggage charges
Make sure you have checked the maximum weight allowance for luggage on your flight before you pack, in order to avoid excess baggage charges

From broken bones to new beginnings

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As many people prepare for the year’s big summer break there is serious pressure to make sure it goes perfectly.

After all, if you’re going to shell out on a bumper family holiday the last thing you want is to feel like you’ve wasted your money.

And even with household budgets getting squeezed and wages flatlining, the desire to fly away and leave it all behind is winning out.

The Office of National Statistics recorded a rise in the number of Brits holidaying in Europe last year for the first time since the start of the recession in 2007.

Nearly 30 million of us headed for the continent in 2011, which is 912,000 more than the year before.

So with staycations losing ground to foreign travel, the cost of a two-week break is not something most people shoulder lightly.

And there’s nothing worse that putting all your eggs into one basket, jetting off to Spain and getting caught out by the various pitfalls that can accompany holidays abroad.

So for anyone needing a refresher of just what to look out for, here are Streetwise’s top tips for not getting into expensive trouble while away.

· Get health insurance

Obvious? Maybe not as much as you would think.

The real danger in many people’s minds is getting hurt in the first place. As far as they are concerned, an injury that needs treatment on holiday is already a trip-ruining disaster.

But breaking a leg doesn’t have to come with a £20,000 price tag.

Always get insurance, check the excess you’ll pay and the cancellation charge, plus the maximum level of cover.

Many experts recommend £1m worth of cover in Europe and £2m elsewhere.

A European Health Insurance Card is also a good idea, as it provides reduced medical costs and entitles you to better care.

· Public holidays

It’s definitely worth doing a bit of research about your intended destination before you leave.

Visiting other countries during their public holidays will mean everything is more expensive, from flights and hotel bookings to public transport and local attractions.

Or worse still, you could find all the nearby shops are shut and you’re unable to buy that most essential of holiday essentials – food.

· Excess baggage costs

Another straightforward one that can still get missed in the headlong rush to the airport.

Find out what the maximum weight you can take is, and how big your hand luggage can be, before you leave and pack accordingly.

Leave space for souvenirs and other things you might want to bring home with you and if possible avoid buying a needlessly heavy suitcase.

· Budget airline extras

If a flight’s price looks too good to be true, it almost certainly is.

Budget airlines use flights that cost next-to-nothing to bring in customers who then get stung with booking costs, credit card fees, air passenger duty, carbon off-setting, baggage check-in fees and on-plane meals.

Plus, many of the cheap airlines fly to out-of-the-way airports where you have to travel for an hour to get to the main city, so add on another few quid for transport costs.

· Airport holiday money

We’ve said it here before at Streetwise, but it bears repeating: airports offer some of the worst currency exchange rates going.

If you leave swapping your cash until you’re about to board you will pay an average of 10 per cent more according to research by MoneySupermarket.com.

So plan ahead, do some reseach online about where to find the best deal, and don’t leave it to the last minute.

· Mobile phone costs

It should be no surprise by now that using a mobile while abroad could result in some eye-watering bills when you return home.

It can cost around 70p per minute to make calls in Europe and more than 50p per minute to receive them.

And most importantly of all in these days of smartphones, make sure you are not racking up a truly massive charge by automatically connecting to the internet while abroad.

The costs will be much, much higher than in the UK, with some unlucky people reporting bills of over £1,000.

So speak to your network provider about the international deals it offers and temporarily turn off your internet access.