At this time of year, many people will be brightening up the dark winter days by booking a getaway they can look forward to.
And the good news for UK holidaymakers heading overseas is that some could see their spending money go further this year, as sterling has strengthened against several currencies compared with a year ago.
According to research from the Post Office in January, 34 of its 40 bestselling currencies had weakened against sterling compared with a year earlier, including the euro and the US dollar.
However, while the pound may be packing more of a punch in some places, there’s still the danger of over-spending. Post Office Travel Money research found that two-thirds of holidaymakers overspent their budget on their last trip abroad.
7 tips for booking a bargain holiday in 2020
So, to help balance your budget, here are some suggestions from Post Office Travel Money for booking a bargain break in 2020.
1. Pinpoint places where your money will stretch further
Holidaymakers heading for Turkey may find sterling is worth over 20% more against the Turkish lira than a year ago, according to Post Office Travel Money’s figures in January. This means tourists buying their holiday currency could potentially get the equivalent of £85 more lira on a £500 transaction.
Mauritius, Jamaica and the Dominican Republic are also among the top winter sun destinations identified by the Post Office where sterling could stretch further. Holidaymakers visiting Hungary may also find they get more for their cash, the research found.
2. Consider a ‘holiday swap’
Holidaymakers can make their pounds go further if they swap a pricier destination within a particular region, with one where they may find the cost of living is lower.
For example, the Post Office’s research found that prices can potentially be lower in Antigua and Tobago than in Barbados. Another potential holiday swap could be to Vietnam instead of Thailand.
The Post Office found that while Thailand remains good value, the Thai baht has recently strengthened against sterling, which could have an impact on holidaymakers from the UK. By contrast, sterling was 3.5% stronger in January against the Vietnamese dong than a year earlier – and prices in some local resorts have also fallen.
Another holiday swap it suggests is the Czech Republic for Poland. While Prague is popular for city breaks, Polish destinations such as Warsaw, Krakow and Katowice are among the top value city break options in Post Office pricing surveys.
3. Avoid having to use plastic abroad
Remember you can save money by planning how you will get your holiday money in advance, rather than having to top up abroad and incurring transaction fees for using cards at ATMs and in shops and restaurants.
4. Get ready to pounce when sterling rises in value
Keep a close eye on exchange rate movements before your departure and purchase foreign currency when sterling will give you more cash for your pounds. The Post Office previously found that around one in 13 holidaymakers previously left getting their holiday money until they got to the airport on their last holiday – potentially meaning they got a poor rate.
5. Choose a resort where living costs are low
Price changes in local resorts will also make a difference to how far your money goes. Over three-quarters of holidaymakers say the cost of meals, drinks and other tourist staples in their holiday destinations was a bigger worry than the value of sterling, the Post Office previously found.
Nick Boden, head of Post Office Travel Money, says: “Sterling is now stronger against the vast majority of holiday currencies and that spells great news for holidaymakers. UK tourists can do even better by picking a destination where the cost of living is low so they benefit from both the stronger pound and low prices in resort restaurants and shops.”
Eating out may be the biggest drain on the holiday purse – so compare prices before choosing a restaurant. Beachfront cafes and restaurants are usually pricier than ones frequented by locals a street back. Keep costs down by choosing fixed price menus and drinking local draught beers and carafe wine rather than international bottled brands.
6. Consider going all-inclusive
This can be a good way to stick to a budget – but check what’s included in the package. Over four in five holidaymakers questioned by the Post Office said they had paid out for extras averaging £407 on top.
So factor this additional cost into the overall holiday price to see whether all-inclusive provides the right money-saving route.
7. Consider using a prepaid travel money card
You can lock in at decent rates and hold several currencies on one handy card.