Christmas and New Year are fast approaching and many minds will be turning to a spot of winter sun. The problem is that this time of year can be expensive enough already, without coughing up for travel overheads. It’s certainly a deterrent, and with concerns over ‘Brexit’, low-interest rates and a slightly wobbly economy, it’s tempting to just stay home. But with experts claiming that Britain is ‘dangerously overworked’, with a growing number of freelancers in particular, ‘risking fatigue… and putting their businesses in jeopardy’ through lack of downtime, it might be worth asking the question whether you can afford not to take a winter break.
While travel might be inherently costly, there are plenty of things that you can do to mitigate and control the costs before they even think about spiralling like a courgette in a trendy café. It’s all about planning and taking sensible precautions; do a bit of both and you should be able to keep your assets protected and your holiday happy.
The Happy Traveller's Guide to Financial Wellness
Whatever the subject and intended cost, the very first things that any financial consultant will tell you to do when you’re considering doing anything is to budget and plan. With travel, in the vast majority of cases, booking ahead will save you cash, with all modes of transport other than your own car, but before your fingers start to inch towards your credit card, it’s worth taking the time to assess your finances. A good holiday can be worth every penny, but not if it’s going to give you sleepless nights as you anxiously chew over the expense – and how you’re going to cover it. So, it’s time to sit down with that pen and paper – or something a little less old-school – and work out where you want to go, how much it’s likely to cost you, and how much cash you have to spare.
If your intended trip isn’t quite as imminent as this coming winter, think about what you could do to help your pot of travel money grow. Set up an auto-savings system so that a little extra cash is added to the pot each month, then automate your investments. Putting your funds into a FastInvest P2P loan could help you to add an extra 9-13% interest on your savings, which could be enough for an extra day trip, a couple of fancy meals out, a spa treatment or two, or that deluxe model sombrero and a straw donkey that you’ve always yearned for.
Of course, one of the best ways to ensure that you don’t run out of cash is to research potential costs before you leave. The beauty of living in the digital age is that all of the world’s information is at your fingertips, so use it. Google the phrase ‘cost of travelling in [insert destination]’ and you’ll be served up a feast of information, from professional sources, such as Rough Guides and Lonely Planet, to the more homely, such as Globe Trotter Girls. Half an hour surfing and you’ll find out everything that you need to know. It can be helpful to create a list before you start though, to avoid too many digressions, so start with essentials – food, drink, travel within the destination and to the destination, accommodation; whether you plan to stay in a hotel or an Airbnb, entertainment, and move along from there.
Wherever you are planning to go, the one thing that you really shouldn’t even consider saving money on is insurance. We’ve all had that ‘how much?’ the moment, where the temptation is to say, ‘screw it’ and take a chance – because bad stuff is something that happens to other people. But bad stuff can happen to anyone and if you were to fall ill, or have an accident, without insurance you could end up spending a year’s wages, or more, on your care. As an example, if you developed an intestinal infection in America, you could end up paying upwards of £22,000 for your care; for a urinary tract infection that needed emergency treatment, that figure could increase to in excess of £55,000. And thinking bleakly for a moment, should the worst happen, and you die while away and uninsured, your relatives would face a fee of anything up to £17,000 to repatriate your body, depending on your destination. So, while it’s tempting to ditch that extra £100 when travelling, it’s not worth the risk, especially when there are so many affordable options available.
Buying insurance for travel is all part of planning for the worst, which no one likes to do; it feels like tempting fate, but it’s far worse to find yourself in an untenable situation without an emergency backup, which is why it’s also best to travel prepared. In that light, before you travel, compile a list of all of your emergency numbers, in the event of lost or stolen credit/debit cards, gadgets – particularly phones, if you’ve not switched off roaming – passports, and contact details for next of kin. Take a couple with you, kept in different parts of your luggage, and leave a couple with friends and family whose numbers you know without needing your mobile. While you’re dealing with your admin, copy all important documents – passports, visas, cards, other ID – and again take a couple with you and leave a couple with trusted relatives at home. Finally, let your financial providers know you’re travelling, this will prevent the fraud team leaping into action and blocking your spending when you finally do splash the cash on the straw donkey of your dreams.
When it comes to splashing cash, if you’re worried about spending too much while away, there are now a number of apps available, to help you track your spending. Prices range depending on what you want, from free-to-use up to £50 per year. For holiday sending, a free, no-frills interface would do the job, but do a little research, shop around, and you’ll find the right one for you.
Of course, one of the best ways to keep travel costs down is to keep your assets safe, so when out and about, separate your cards from your cash – one in a bag, the other in your pocket. In your hotel room, if there is a safe, use it. If there isn’t, keep expensive items on you. A third of all Brits admit to having had their valuables stolen when travelling, so just take a few precautions.
Another obvious way to reduce the likelihood of losing goods through theft is to make all major payments in advance, thus reducing what you need to take with you. Planning for the best – researching and pre-booking an activities itinerary – also allows you to more accurately budget, limiting ad hoc expenses while ensuring that you make the most of your time away. We’ve all had holidays where hours, if not days, have been spent in bickering and boredom while unable to decide what to do with the time. Making those decisions before you go removes that potential for wasted time and tension while giving you the opportunity to research discounted prices – and everyone loves discounted prices!
Last, but by no means least, the ultimate way to make your holiday affordable is to keep your money working while you’re away. The world of investments can feel like one big minefield if you’re not au fait with the practice, but it’s not all stocks and shares. If you move away from traditional investment structures, making money is easier than you might think. FastInvest provides the opportunity to invest in P2P (peer to peer) loans, so if someone is looking for an alternative financing source for their business or project, they can eschew banks in favour of their peers. With multiple individuals investing in a project, the funds are soon raised, leaving the borrower with the funds they need and the investor with a great ROI (return on investment), thanks to the interest the borrower pays. The typical FastInvest investor can expect to receive a 9-13% ROI on their investment – up to 12% more than they would receive via traditional banking methods. And because FastInvest offers a buy-back guarantee, if you need your money back sooner than expected, it’s there when you want it.
Last year, a study by YouGov revealed that a third of Brits typically fail to take their holiday entitlement from work, despite the fact that the UK’s 28 day holiday entitlement is among the lowest in Europe. On the surface, this might seem like a good thing for the economy, but it really hints at an unhealthy work/life balance, which can lead to illness, both physical and mental. The Chartered Institute of Personnel Development estimates that absence due to sickness costs UK plc £609 per employee every year. So, what would you rather do? Keep on slogging yourself into ill-health, or take a little break, recharge your batteries, and enjoy some away time, safe in the knowledge that your money is working for you?
At FastInvest, we think that’s something of a no-brainer.