7 useful tips for a stress-free holiday

Hidden costs and watch-outs

You may have arranged flights and accommodation, but have you considered some of the hidden costs that may be involved in going away?

The cost of overseas holidays is increasing, with the average prices for British holidaymakers up 7% on the previous year1. Here are some useful tips and watch-outs to help you have a stress-free holiday.

Every member of your family needs their own EHIC card

If you’re travelling to Europe, don’t forget to register for a free European Health Insurance Card for everyone in your family. It gives you access to state-provided healthcare if you require medical assistance while you’re away, in countries in the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland.

Cards are issued by all the countries where they’re valid, but you can only apply for one from the country you’re a resident in. If you’re not a British citizen but you live in the UK, pay UK taxes and National Insurance, you’re eligible to apply for one. Using the card can save you thousands of pounds, but you must have the card with you in order to get treated. Find out more here.

Remember, an EHIC isn’t a substitute for travel insurance as it only covers medical assistance – you’ll still need to take out general travel insurance to ensure other aspects of your trip are covered.

You can get travel insurance through our Travel Pack options. The Travel Pack costs £10.50 per month and gives you worldwide family travel insurance and RAC comprehensive breakdown cover in the UK and Europe. To boost your benefits, consider the Travel Plus Pack2. For £15.50 per month, you’ll get all of the cover of the Travel Pack, but with the addition of airport lounge access, parking, restaurant and hotel discounts.

Your hotel may cost more than you think

Depending on where you go, you may find that the final cost of your accommodation is more than you expected, due to tourist tax. These local government taxes are becoming increasingly commonplace. The exact amount varies between destinations and it’s usually paid at your hotel, in addition to your accommodation costs. For some package tours the cost may be included, but if not, you’ll be asked to pay it on departure.

If you’re visiting Spain this summer, watch out for Sustainable Tourist Tax if you visit the Balearic Islands of Ibiza, Majorca, Menorca and Formentera. From May 2018, the rate increased significantly and taxes now range from €1 per day for camping or staying in hostels to €4 for those in high-end hotels and apartments3.

Other European destinations are following suit. For example, Greece introduced its first tourist tax in 2018, priced at €0.5-€4pp per night, depending on the accommodation’s rating. Check your destination before you leave to find out if you’ll be affected.

If you’re holidaying further afield, resorts in North America may add a ‘resort fee’ applicable to tourists. This can be up to £82 per room per night to cover amenities such as Wi-Fi and use of the swimming pool4.

You could save money on airport parking by booking in advance

At some airports in the UK, you may end up paying three times more than others5. These costs can be reduced by booking in advance to get a better deal. Or, if you’re paying on the day, check and see if the airport has an app that may give you a discount.  

Want to get a discount on airport parking? With our Travel Pack Plus insurance, you can get up to 20% off standard prices at airport parking at major UK airports2.

There’s more to car hire than simply hiring the vehicle

You may have factored in car hire and insurance, but there are other costs to watch out for. You may need to pay additional charges for adding a second driver, returning the car out-of-hours, going over a distance limit, road tolls, hiring a satnav or excess insurance. If you have children or grandchildren, you may need to pay for a car or booster seat which can cost from £51 per week6. An alternative option is to take a booster seat with you, and many airlines allow you to check one in for free as part of your hold luggage allowance7.

Another thing to bear in mind is that you might need to apply for an International Driving Permit (IDP) to drive abroad. The quickest way to get one is to visit your nearest IDP-issuing Post Office, but you can also apply at the AA Folkestone shop or by post. The permit is valid for 12 months and costs £5.50. It’s recommended in over 140 countries and, in some, it’s a legal requirement. See a list of the countries where an IDP is required or recommended here. Most EU countries don’t require the permit if you have a driving licence issued in an EU or EEA country.  

You may also need to obtain a DVLA check code. This allows hire companies anywhere in the world to check your licence details online. Do this before you travel to save time and avoid a potential admin charge. Find out how to apply for a check code here.

One easy way to get your DVLA check code is to register for the Barclays Identity Service8. You’ll be issued with a login for all GOV.UK websites so you can access personal information such as your State Pension, Personal Tax Account and driving licence details.

Have cash handy to pay for landing visas and exit fees

For some countries, such as India, you need to purchase a visa before you travel, but for others, such as Cambodia, you can pay for it on arrival. It’s worth checking foreign travel advice for your destination before you leave. For example, if you’re travelling to Turkey, the visa on arrival service is likely to be phased out in the future so consider getting an e-Visa from the official website before you leave9.

Some destinations prefer fees to be paid in cash in US dollars but some may accept euros or sterling – check before you travel so you know what to expect. For landing visas, you may also need to provide your own passport-size photos, so make sure you get these done in advance to save time. 

Air Passenger Departure Tax to be paid on departure is another important consideration. If you purchase a holiday package, this fee may already be part of your overall holiday cost but, if you’re paying it separately, you may need to do so in cash. For example, in Hong Kong, the APDT of HK$120 (about £12) is levied on passengers who are 13 or older10. Other countries that charge departure tax include Jamaica and Mexico, though some airlines add it into their ticket price. The same applies when you cross borders on the ground. If you’re driving between countries, you may be asked to pay departure tax as you leave one country and entry visas when you arrive into another.

Make time to relax before you fly

Switching off before you go away will help get you into the holiday mood quicker. You can get your trip off to a stress-free start by downloading a mindfulness app such as MindFi11. Designed for busy people, it allows you to meditate on the go. The app is free to download with subscription options available. And remember to check with your mobile provider what you’ll be charged for data abroad. Data may be free in Europe as part of your usual allowance but it can quickly add up if you’re going further afield.

If you’re travelling somewhere rural with sparse free Wi-Fi coverage, such as parts of Japan, consider hiring a mobile Wi-Fi device for the duration of your trip. These can allow you to get online on several devices which can help you save money on Worldwide roaming fees.

If you’re travelling with a phone, laptop or other gadgets then consider taking out our Tech Pack insurance. For £12.50 a month you can insure up to 4 mobiles worth up to £1,500 and an unlimited number of gadgets worth up to £1,500 each.

Another way to relax before you fly is to escape the crowds. With Barclays Travel Pack Plus you get free airport lounge access, plus discounts on dining2. Don’t forget to use Premier Rewards for additional discounts and offers, too.

Stay safe from fraud while you’re away

If you get contacted by your bank while you’re away, here are a couple of ways you can be sure it’s us. We’ll never ask you to tell us your PIN, password or PINsentry codes, divulge your login details for Online Banking or Barclays Mobile Banking or to transfer money to a ‘safe’ account. If you’re suspicious of a call or text, hang up, don't reply or click on any links. You can contact us using the number on the back of your debit card or use the ‘Call me’ function in Barclays Mobile Banking. Download the Barclays Mobile Banking app here12. Find out more about how fraudsters can contact you here.