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Three tips for booking winter sun to beat the January blues

January is one of the most popular times of year to be searching for holidays and no wonder -   once the tinsel and turkey of Christmas fades, January can feel a long, grey month.

So it comes as no surprise that more than nine million of us were looking up holiday booking in January 2014, according to Google.

If you are thinking about booking some winter sun, or a big summer holiday to look forward to, stick to our simple tips to make sure your holiday is a winner, not a disaster.

1.  Don’t overpay for your break

When it comes to booking your holiday, there are a lot of options – do you want to go DIY and book individual parts of your trip, such as your flights and accommodation, yourself, or do you want to book a package?

Package holidays do tend to be cheaper, especially for more popular destinations, but it is worth checking both options as you can sometimes get a better price if you book separately.

As with most things, it is always best to shop around and taking the time to look at a few options before you get to the point of booking.  

2.  Buy the right travel insurance

Did you know the average cost for getting medical care while abroad is £2040? That’s according to the Association of British Insurers. Without insurance, you’ll have to cover emergency expenses on your own – the British Consulate can’t help you.

You should make sure the policy you choose is right for your needs. For example, you might need additional cover for winter sports, or if you have a medical condition, you might need specialist insurance.

There is no point hiding any medical conditions from your insurer either, even if it means a more expensive outlay in the first place. You should include everything you can, including any regular tablets you take. If you fail to, you could end up invalidating your policy.

If you are travelling in Europe, you should also get a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC).  With an EHIC, you get the same level of state-provided medical care as someone who lives in the country you’re visiting. However, the local level of care may not be the same as what you’d get in the UK, so an EHIC is not enough on its own. You should still get travel insurance that includes medical and repatriation cover.

Plus, it’s not just about medical treatment. Most insurance policies will cover lost or stolen bags, personal liability and more.

3.  Choose the best currency option for you

Travelling abroad is easier within the EU as the currency will be Euros, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t some things you need to keep in mind when buying foreign currency – whether travelling in the EU or beyond.

To get the best deal for your money you should look up prices online and buy it in advance. Make sure when paying for travel money that you use a debit card or cash.  Credit cards class it as a cash withdrawal and often charge interest and a separate fee.

The best exchange rates are often online, but there are pitfalls to going down this route. For example, you could be looking at a delivery charge of up to £5 and you may not be given the option to choose what notes you want.

Taking foreign currency with you isn’t the only way to pay on holiday though. It might be easier – and even cheaper - to use your credit card or debit card abroad; get a pre-paid card; or use traveller’s cheques. Make sure you know the fees before you travel. Don’t forget, some banks will want you to notify them of any foreign travel beforehand to monitor card fraud.

Find out your options with our foreign currency guides

Winter sun inspiration

If you’re looking for some winter sun inspiration, here are some top tips for sunnier climates for the beginning of 2015 from around the web.

Short haul

  • Malaga
  • Tenerife
  • Morocco

Long haul

  • Australia
  • Sri Lanka
  • South Africa


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  • Ray Baldacchino / 22 January 2015

    On buying foreign currency, I find its best to buy goods and services with a travel type credit card as they give the best exchange rates, with no transaction charges. Like Halifax Clarity, the Post Office or Saga - they apply anywhere in the world. There are others which may only cover Europe. These cards don't charge a transaction fee for cash but as already stated, they do charge interest but despite that it could still be cheaper and more convenient. To minimize costs, ensure you have a direct debit paying you monthly credit card bill in full each month. If you know the payment date, you will know how much interest may be charged for drawing cash.

  • John Smith / 13 January 2015

    Another great tip is using secret hotel deals. Just Google it!