Booking a holiday should be an exciting experience, but it’s easy to fall into financial traps that can make your trip unnecessarily expensive.

To help you navigate the booking process more effectively, Michael Foote, CEO of travel insurance comparison site, has identified six common costly mistakes travellers often make. From where to buy your travel money to overlooking hidden fees, these insights will help you save money and ensure you get the most out of your next overseas adventure.

1. Not taking out travel insurance

Why it’s costly: Not having travel insurance can lead to high out-of-pocket expenses in case of medical emergencies, trip cancellations, or other unforeseen events.

Example: If you were to injure your back abroad and need to be flown home lying down, it can be extremely expensive, because it typically requires special arrangements such as an air ambulance or a medical escort on a commercial flight. Costs range from £25,000 to over £100,000 depending on where in the world you’d need to fly from. 

How to avoid: Always opt for comprehensive travel insurance that includes coverage for medical emergencies, trip cancellations, and other unforeseen circumstances. Depending on your destination, the cost of insurance can range from as little as £10 to around £50. Considering the potential expenses of emergency medical care or trip interruptions, this cost is a small investment compared to what you could face without it. 

2. Failing to compare different booking platforms

Why it’s costly: Prices for flights, hotels, and car rentals can vary significantly across different booking platforms and travel agencies.

Example: Different platforms often have varying deals and discounts, which can affect the overall cost, making it difficult to compare like for like. 

How to avoid: Compare prices across multiple booking platforms and websites to ensure you get the best deal. Use comparison tools like Kayak, Skyscanner, and Google Flights and if you use websites like Expedia and, double-check booking directly with the hotel or airline isn’t cheaper. 

3. Not budgeting for extra fees and hidden costs

Why it’s costly: Many airlines and hotels advertise low prices but add significant fees for baggage, seat selection, parking and meals. 

Example: More and more airlines, not just the budget ones, are adding fees for checked luggage that can range from £20 for a short-haul flight and can be as much as £150 for long-haul flights. Airlines will also charge as much as £50 for choosing where you sit. 

How to avoid: When booking flights and accommodation within a specific budget, be mindful of additional costs by carefully comparing prices, including those you may not see until checkout. While it might seem like you’ve found a bargain initially, once you’ve factored in all the extras, you may need to go back to the drawing board. 

4. Overlooking exchange rates and currency conversion fees

Why it’s costly: Using credit cards or withdrawing cash abroad without checking for potential fees can lead to significant extra costs due to unfavourable exchange rates and high conversion fees. Buying travel money on the high street or at the airport can be notably more expensive compared to online options.

Example: Typically, online exchange rates are 10-15% better than those offered at airports.

How to avoid: Give yourself time to compare exchange rates online for the best deals if you prefer carrying cash. Consider using travel-friendly credit cards or pre-loading a travel card before your trip for the most favourable exchange rates.

5. Booking non-refundable options without flexibility

Why it’s costly: Non-refundable bookings can lead to financial loss if your plans change or if unforeseen circumstances force you to cancel.

Example: You break your leg playing rugby two days before you fly. 

How to avoid: Whenever possible, book flexible options that allow for changes or cancellations. This may cost slightly more upfront but can save money in the long run. 

6. Neglect to check visa and entry requirements

Why it’s costly: Not checking visa requirements can result in denied entry into a country or costly last-minute arrangements to obtain the necessary documentation.

Example: Some countries like the United States require an ESTA – which stands for Electronic System for Travel Authorisation. It’s an automated system used to determine the eligibility of visitors to travel to the United States under the Visa Waiver Program. 

How to avoid: Research and ensure you have all necessary visas and entry permits well in advance of your trip.

Travel warning: Avoid alcohol before your flight

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