The holidays are over, the schools are back. But if you've recently returned, some simple checks could save you £100s. Here's my post-holiday checklist (and if you've got the back-to-work blues, some will help you next year too).
1. Flight delayed by over 3hrs this summer (or any time since 2009)? EU regulation 261/2004 means you're entitled to €250-€600 per person, regardless of the cost of the trip, even for flights from 2009, if it:
- Was an EU flight - ie, any from an EU airport or to one if an EU airline.
- Arrived over 3 hours late (or was cancelled, though slightly different rules).
- Was the airline's fault, which covers almost anything barring extraordinary circumstances such as air-traffic strikes, bad weather & volcanoes.
Free online complaints tool, help and what to do about airline excuses (eg, "it was a technical fault") in our Flight Delays Compensation guide, as used by Pat: "Read your site & contacted Etihad about our 14.5hr delay from Heathrow to Sri Lanka in 2011. We received a total of £2,010 between four of us... great"
2. Print 215 holiday snaps for 'free'. Come back with a camera full of unforgettable pics? Don't just walk into your high street developers - we tested it out and 75 6"x4" prints would set you back a whopping £26! But go online and you can pay as little as £2.25. Many online developing firms now offer 40-75 prints free for newbies to tempt you in, though you pay 99p to £3 for delivery.
Our top pick is 200 6"x4" prints for £4 for new Snapfish customers via LivingSocial*. Or, if you want less prints go for the MSE Blagged Truprint* deal for 75 6"x4" prints for £2.25 delivery, until Wed 30 Sep. If you want fewer prints, our next pick is Snapfish* with 50 6"x4" prints for £1.99 delivery.
Total up all the free print deals and you can actually get 215 free ones. You'll see them listed in our Free Photo Prints Finder.
3. Shocked by bank/card currency charges on your statement? Fight back. Last year my dad called me outraged at the 'new' foreign exchange charges on his bank statement for using his card abroad - nearly £50 in total. Yet banks & credit card providers have always levied these (and I've always nagged him to sort it, but he's my father, he'll never listen to me, I hope you will).
The shock comes from the fact banks have now been forced to split charges out on statements, not hide them in the exchange rate. Most debit & credit cards add 3% loads, so £100-worth of euros costs you £100 + £3 charge.
Instead grab a specialist load-free credit card just for spending abroad as they give near-perfect, bureaux-beating rates every time, in every country.
Top pick: Halifax Clarity* (free eligibility check) due to low ATM charges too.
Poor credit top pick: Aqua Reward* (free eligibility check) also 0.5% cashback.
Also good: Saga* (over-50s), Post Office* & Select* (Nationwide custs ONLY).
Yet always repay IN FULL each month or the interest dwarves the gain. These cards have rep APRs of 12.9%, 34.9%, 11.9%, 17.8% and 15.9% respectively. Full info & help in Cheap Travel Cards (APR Examples).
4.Check the PAO number on suncream before throwing it away. The 'period after opening' (PAO) number will be on the bottle - many are safe to use up to 18 months later, provided they're stored right. For more, see 50+ Overseas Travel Tips.
5. Check ASAP when your annual travel insurance ends - get it from £13. Many people's policies end around the summer. If so, and you've another trip already booked, that means you're not covered if it's cancelled or you get a medical condition meanwhile. So sort another annual policy now.
For all the cheapest and full help, see Cheap Travel Insurance. For quick reference here are the current cheapest deals (meeting our min cover level):
- Cheapest annual policies. HolidaySafe (Lite)* is the cheapest for those aged 18-65 at £13-£18 in Europe (£25-£31 world) and £28-£36 for a family (£56-£62 world). For more options inc winter sports see Cheapest Annual Travel Insurance.
- Over-65, or pre-existing conditions. Here, it's all about the right specialist. Full help in Over-65s Travel Insurance & Pre-Existing Medical Conditions Travel Insurance.
6. Stung by hefty insurance when picking up your hire car? Let me guess, you booked cheap car hire, turned up and they fear-sold you into paying 10 euros a day extra for car hire excess insurance. It happens all the time.
The way round it is to get a standalone policy before you go (you can even get an annual policy to cover the whole year's hire). To find the cheapest, use Moneymaxim*. Full help on cutting costs in Cheap Car Hire.
7. Got Euros, dollars or even colón left over from the summer? Changing currency back is very expensive, especially for small amounts. So if it's a country you'll revisit even in a couple of years, it's likely best to hold onto it, eg, put it in your overseas wallet (yes, I'm that nerdy). If not:
- Use our Travel Money Max Buy back comparison to find the best rates.
- Find a friend/colleague who's going where you went, and offer to exchange with them. If you pick the top Travel Money (not buyback) rate from TravelMoneyMax then you both win.
8. Run up card debts on your holiday which you can't pay off in full? It's never a good idea, but that doesn't mean it doesn't happen. If you can't clear the debt this month and you're paying hefty interest, then ensure you do a balance transfer to slash the cost, so more of your repayments clear the actual debt not just service the interest.
9. Check your passport and EHIC sell-by dates now. In the past, thousands were hit by passport office delays this year, causing some to miss their breaks. If your passport's nearly at renewal, play it safe and do it now while you've plenty of time.
While you're at it, check the 'valid by' date on your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) - if it goes before your next holiday renew it now.
The big rule for renewing though is DON'T GOOGLE - for both these, imposter sites unnecessarily charge you more than you should pay. Instead use our Passport Renewal and Free EHIC guides for how to do it safely.