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Seven ways to stretch your holiday budget

Lots of us spend too much abroad, but Vicky Shaw has some handy hints to keep your funds on track

Plan ahead: think about what you want to spend before setting off
Plan ahead: think about what you want to spend before setting off

By Vicky Shaw

You may be looking forward to that long-awaited summer holiday - and rightly so - but will you blow your budget this year?

One in four (25%) of us went over the amount we'd planned to spend on our last trip, according to a survey by Post Office Travel Money.

And with two-thirds of holidaymakers planning to travel abroad this year, many more may end up stretching their holiday wallets too far.

On average, those who blew the budget on their last holiday spent £184 more than they'd budgeted for.

So, to prevent it from happening again, here are seven tips from Post Office Travel Money to stop your spending spiralling out of control...

1. Go where sterling will get you the most holiday cash

Turkey is a destination where UK holidaymakers may find their money stretches further this year, with sterling having strengthened against the lira.

The pound has also strengthened against the Norwegian and Swedish currencies and increased on 2018 levels against the Icelandic krona.

If you want to head further afield, South Africa could be a bargain bet, as the rand has fallen against sterling since last year.

It's a good time to visit family or friends in Australia, too, as the pound has strengthened year-on-year against the Australian dollar.

2. Budget realistically to avoid running short

Be realistic about spending and set a budget designed to cover all your costs.

Plan your holiday money in advance to avoid having to top up abroad and potentially incurring fees for using cards. You could consider loading money onto a pre-paid card to avoid transaction charges.

If you want to use a credit or debit card abroad, consider avoiding paying in sterling in shops or restaurants because it may cost more than if you pay in local currency.

3. Pick the right moment to get your spending money

Get the most for your pounds by monitoring exchange rate movements, and purchase your foreign currency when the pound is looking stronger.

The Post Office found that one in 10 people left it until they got to the airport on their last holiday to get their currency.

Nick Boden, head of Post Office Travel Money, says: "When time is short, it is tempting to leave it until you get to the airport. However, the amount lost by doing so is likely to be enough to pay for a round of drinks or to buy kids' ice creams for the whole holiday."

4. Pick a resort where the cost of living is low

Over four-fifths (83%) of families say the cost of meals, drinks and other tourist staples in their holiday destinations is a bigger worry than the value of sterling.

For those who haven't already booked, the latest Post Office Holiday Costs Barometer of European beach resorts suggests prices are likely to be relatively low in Sunny Beach and other Bulgarian Black Sea resorts. The Algarve, the Costa del Sol and Marmaris are also tipped as good value.

5. Watch out for meal prices

Meal costs may be the biggest drain on the budget - so compare prices. Cafes and restaurants lining the beach in tourist hotspots are often pricier, so choose ones favoured by locals instead.

Keep costs down by choosing fixed-price menus and drinking local draught beers and carafe wine rather than international bottled brands.

6. Consider self-catering

This could be a very effective way to keep the cost of eating to a minimum and explains why two in five families in the Post Office's research are planning to take the DIY approach this year.

It makes financial sense because, according to the Post Office, the average amount holidaymakers spent stocking up on provisions on their last self-catering holiday was £89 - around a quarter of the cost of eating out daily in many European resort restaurants.

For those going self-catering, research suggests the Balearic Islands offer relatively cheap prices. Supermarkets in the Algarve and the Costa del Sol are also good value.

7. If you don't want to cook while you're away, think about going all-inclusive

But make sure you check what is included in the package price and don't get caught out paying for extras.

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