Tips to save money on last minute holiday essentials

Hubby and I are off on a long awaited for holiday in just 8 days time. We save our pounds furiously to pay for a lovely 5 night holiday to the adult playground of Vegas every year if we can get away with it.  Pregnancy or small babies have got in the way for a few years but we have managed it a few times and of course I like to save as much cash as possible on the last minute holiday jobs so today I wanted to share with you some tips to save money on last minute holiday essentials.

Tips to save money on last minute holiday essentials

Foreign Money

1-2 weeks before holiday is a good time to order currency that can be delivered. And delivered currency will provide you with much better exchange rates. We need dollars and the dollar/pound rate is not great at the moment. Luckily hubby somehow foresaw this and ordered some back in Dec as a christmas pressie for me. He got an exchange rate of $1.6 to £1. Now its more like $1.4 to £1. I have done the research for you there are a few comparison sites around..but Holidaycurrencyexchange is a good one. It has consistently found me the best rates. I have been tracking the $/£ rate for a few months now and I cannot wait any longer. So I have ordered the last bit of cash needed from here. The site refers me onto the best priced site for ordering currency. And its way cheaper than the high street.

For example

  • £1000 will get me $1419 from their no 1 recommendation travel FX.
  • At Asda you would get $1392
  • At HSBC you would get $1358.

So its worth checking the comparison sites and ordering from an online company.

Great Exchange Rate Credit Card

Its worth pointing out now that the Halifax Clarity  Card always offers the best exchange rates for purchases abroad. We have one and we only ever use it when abroad for purchases. It always offers the best exchange rate, much better than cash or travellers cheques. You just need to ensure that you pay it off as soon as you get home from holiday. You can also use it to get cash from cash machines, just beware that interest will be charged from the day of withdrawal onwards.

Travel Insurance

A must for holiday time..I have never (touch some wood) had to make a claim but its something that you really should have. I used to get a 1 week or 2 week policy every time we went on holiday..but its definitely more cost effective to get an annual policy. Especially with a family policy to cover my 3 kiddies. I have just renewed our annual travel insurance policy for £35 with Debenhams insurance. And its not even the bog standard bronze package, I went silver;-) Its really important to do go through a comparison site here and my choice is the  insurance comparison as you’ll get a nice chunk of cash back too.

Airport Hotels and Parking

We have an earlyish flight from Gatwick on a Monday morning. We are far too scared to chance the M25 (we live in Hertfordshire) traffic on a Monday morning so we are going to stay the night in Gatwick before hand. And by far the cheapest way of doing things is a hotel park and stay the night. I recommend using your Topcashback account to search for Holiday Extras and book your hotel/parking through the cash back link. I got 10.5% cash back today on the Gatwick Hilton, a nice hotel as its a short 2 minute walk from hotel foyer to departure desk. The hotel cost was £84 which was a great price anyway, less the £7.35 cas hback makes it £76.65:-).


We need a new suitcase. Our last one died a death on an Easy jet flight to Alicante last August..sad times. So I’m on the search for a large but light suitcase that can hold around 20-23kg. I am hopeful that Aldi can help me with their special buys..but horror of suitcases available. So my second place to turn is Amazon. Hurrah there is a purple one. Available on Amazon Prime so speedy delivery for £59. This could be the one. If you wanted to buy something similar click on the picture to zip you through to Amazon, also available in black and bright blue.

Travelling to USA – do not forget your ESTA

All that is left to sort out is a new ESTA…no way of saving anything really on the $28 charge for 2 people except paying for it with my Halifax Clarity card to get the best exchange rate. Did you know that most credit cards & visa debit cards will charge an exchange rate load which means you will get a much poorer exchange rate than you would using the Halifax clarity card or even cash.

Funny story, one year we forgot to arrange our ESTA visas. It was only when we went to check in that the guys told us of our mistake….then followed 45 minutes of extreme stress of finding a airport computer and applying for the ESTA’s then and there. Luckily they were approved within a few minutes and we checked in. And thankfully we had got there with plenty of time to spare. Lesson learnt.

Fun things to do whilst on holiday

All that is left to do now is to plan the final detail of the holiday, maybe a trip to the grand canyon for the Skywalk..have wanted to do that for years. It will always pays to shop around for these kind of trips and excursions before you arrive on holiday as you can often get a cheaper price booking in advance. And a good look at restaurants to pick out the best steak and the best burger place on the strip. Roll on Las Vegas.

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Lynn Beattie

Aka Mrs MummyPenny

Personal Finance Expert

I write about personal finance made simple, lifestyle choices that will save you time and money, as well as products and services that offer great value.

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