Sun, sea and savings: Don’t pay over the odds for your 2024 hols

Ready to start planning the next holiday? Use these shortcuts to ensure you don’t pay more than you need to.

If travel is high on your agenda for 2024, use our tips on how to keep costs down when planning your trips.

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Be flexible

If you can be even a little bit flexible on your dates and destination, you can save hundreds of pounds.

  1. Dates. If you aren’t tied to school holidays or a specific departure date, then you can typically bag cheaper deals. For example, when we looked in January 2024, we found a flight to Barcelona on a Tuesday in June for £45.99 with easyJet – but the same flight on Friday cost £70.99.
  2. Destination. Typically, people will pick where they want to go, and the dates they want to travel, then search for flights for those dates. But this means there’s little wiggle room for bringing down costs. So why not flip it on its head? Start by seeing what prices are available for different destinations via sites like Skyscanner, which offers “Explore everywhere” and “Flexible dates” options. If something catches your eye, then look at dates which have the cheapest fares available. Rather than heading to the Czech Republic’s well-known capital city of Prague, why not consider Sofia in Bulgaria? When we checked flight and hotel costs, a weekend break to Prague in April was £643, but the same dates travelling to Sofia totalled £522 per couple.

Track prices

If flexibility isn’t an option for you, then price tracking could be the key. This is where you set price alerts on flight trackers such as Google Flights, so you’re instantly told if the price has dropped.

Ticket prices can change regularly, depending on factors like whether the route is typically used by business or leisure travellers, how booked up the flight is, and real-time bookings and cancellations.

Flight prices also tend to go through a weekly cycle, with the lowest prices typically made available at the start of the week and the highest prices offered later in the week. So it’s worth keeping an eye on your chosen destination and booking when you see the price drop.

Remember, don’t leave it too late – prices tend to climb the closer it is to the departure date.

Bargain hunt

When you book your holiday can make a big difference to the price. For example, December and January often have competitive prices for the following summer.

Alternatively, check out the deals at the start or end of the holiday season. Travel providers will also often run sales throughout the year or reward you for booking early.

A new trend in recent years is “Travel Tuesday”. This event follows Cyber Monday and is a day when you can find travel-only deals offered by hotel companies, airlines, travel agents and more. Definitely a date to add to your calendar.

Money mistakes

Go fee-free

Getting a debit card that doesn’t charge you for making payments when you’re abroad will get you some tasty savings.

Many debit and credit cards charge you a “foreign transaction fee” of around 2.99% when you spend abroad. But there are specialist cards that don’t charge this fee. For example, the Uphold Card charges zero fees on foreign transactions and offers competitive exchange rates. The card doesn’t charge annual fees, either, but there is a charge for withdrawing cash from ATMs in the UK or abroad, and there’s a charge for getting a physical card. You can use Uphold everywhere that Mastercard is accepted – over 36 million locations worldwide.

So how much could you save by using a card that doesn’t charge for foreign transactions? If you had dinner out for 5 nights during a week’s break in Greece or Spain, you’d have saved enough to cover beers on the last night. Cheers!

Challenge yourself

If you’re serious about saving money, it may be time to challenge yourself this year. You can make saving fun by trying out any of these savings challenges.

  • 365 day saving money challenge. Starting off small, this challenge involves saving £1 each day, so by the end of the year you’ll have saved £365. However, if you want to be more ambitious, you could try the £1,500 challenge, where you save £1 on Monday, £2 on Tuesday and so on, until you get to Sunday and save £7. Then reset and return to £1 on Monday. By the end of the year, you’ll have saved almost £1,500 (£1,456 to be precise).
  • Monthly savings challenge. If you prefer to save on a monthly basis, then start the year saving £10 in January, increase it to £20 in February, £30 in March and so on. By the end of the year, you’ll have saved £780.
  • The no spend challenge. With this, you commit to not spending money on anything unnecessary for a set period – for example, 30 days. So during that time, you’ll spend only on your bills, groceries and toiletries, and you avoid spending on non-essentials like clothes shopping, eating out and entertainment. At the end of the period, you can put what you haven’t spent into a savings account ready for your next travel trip.
Uphold Europe Ltd is an agent of Optimus Cards UK Ltd, and e-money balances are provided by Optimus Cards UK Ltd, which is an electronic money institution authorised and regulated by the FCA. Your funds are not held in a deposit or investment account, which means that your e-money is not protected by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme, but funds will be held in a designated safeguarding account with a licensed bank in the UK.

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