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fun on beach

So, you’re nearly through with exams and assessments and you can see the end of the tunnel. And that bright light ahead means just one thing: summer abroad!

All term you’ve been picturing unadulterated fun and hedonistic days in the sun. But now that your plans are actually taking shape you’re beginning to wonder if your budget will let you realise your travel dreams.

No matter how cash strapped you are, there are a few clever ways to make your travel money go further. They all involve a little advance planning, but it’s worth it in the long run. Here are some moneywise travel tips for you to consider:

1. Sort your cash now

While airport bureaus are convenient if you’ve left everything to the last minute, the exchange rates they offer can shrink your spending cash. Try to sort out your budget and travel funds several weeks in advance. That way, you can take advantage of more favourable exchange rates and deals.

 

2. Think ahead

If you don’t take enough cash, you can find yourself paying hefty fees for using ATMs abroad. Then again, if you take too much, bad buy-back rates can eat up your leftover cash. However, there are some buy-back schemes that let you exchange your unused foreign currency at your purchase rate. Use a comparison site to work out the best scheme for you, and watch out for hidden charges, too.

 

3. Look at cash alternatives

There’s another way around bank charges when you travel: pre-paid cards. The best of these let you spend and withdraw money without fees, and they can also help you keep to budget. You load only a certain amount onto a pre-paid card, and that’s what you have to spend – so you won’t end up with an overdraft or credit card debt. Pre-paid cards can also reduce the risks of fraud and theft that come with bankcards and cash. Do your research, though, to find a pre-paid card that’s right for you.

 

4. Pick a true budget destination

Again, research is the key to picking a destination where your travel money will stretch further. Word-of-mouth can be deceptive. After all, everyone’s idea of a tight budget is different, and things do change. For instance, prices in some cheap destinations like Thailand have actually risen in the past year, according to a holiday costs barometer put out by the Post Office. Tools like this are great for working out what your holiday will really cost, and we’ve used it to find some of 2013’s real hotspots for travel on a shoestring:

  • Spain – No wonder we love Spain. Sun, sand, sangria – and still one of the world’s cheapest holiday spots
  • Portugal – Spain’s sun-drenched neighbour is among the 10 cheapest destinations
  • Turkey – Also in the top 10, Turkey is now even more affordable as prices have dropped by 16 per cent in the past year
  • Cyprus – Still relatively unspoilt and no. 12 according to the Post Office barometer. What’s not to like?
  • Egypt – A massive 20% drop in prices in the past year puts Egyptian adventures well within reach
  • Greece – Prices have dropped here too, but nothing’s changed when it comes to Greece’s amazing beaches, culture and food
  • Croatia – Best for festivals, and still among the world’s top 20 cheapest resorts

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