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How to beat hidden holiday charges

The number of people booking package holidays is on the rise, according to new figures from the Office for National Statistics.

After years of decline, all-inclusive package holidays are suddenly increasing in popularity again, with some experts suggesting this is because families want to save money.

If you’re trying to save money on a family break then the right package holiday means you pay an upfront amount and know exactly how much you’ll spend.

However much your family eats, drinks and dips in the pool on your break, you won’t be hit with a painful bill at the end of your break.

But even with an all-inclusive break, the cost of a holiday can spiral out of control if you’re not careful. There are loads of additional costs to factor in, which can add up to a painful premium on your package break.

So, whether you’ve already booked your break or you’re just starting to daydream about the sun, here are the extra expenses to keep in mind – and keep as low as possible.

[Related feature: How to bag a bargain overseas break]

Spending money

If you’re heading overseas then you’ll want to change some pounds into the local currency. But the vast majority of holidaymakers don’t sort out their spending money until the last minute, meaning they don’t find the best deals.

And this can be an expensive decision. The holiday comparison website has found that the difference between buying currency in advance and buying it at the airport can be more than £150 on €1,500. That would buy a lot of souvenir straw donkeys.

[Related link: The best cards for overseas spending]

Airport parking

When you’re adding up the cost of a holiday, it’s easy to forget the price you’ll pay to park your car.

Then when you roll up to the airport and discover it’s £60 for four days, it can ruin the start of your trip. But book your parking in advance and you could save as much as 60% on the frankly extortionate fees.

Alternatively, you could hunt around for cheaper options. For example, the website ParkatmyHouse lets you rent a nearby private parking space, usually for far less than an official car park.

[Related story: Airport parking cheaper for planes than cars]

Food on the plane

The last time I caught a budget flight, a packet of crisps cost more than £3. If your package doesn’t include meals on the plane then consider taking a packed meal.

Otherwise, you could find yourself paying restaurant prices for a cup of powdered soup.

Airport transfers

Many package holidays include transfers; namely a bus or taxi service that gets you from the airport to your hotel.

But if your holiday doesn’t include that service then you may find you have to pay a high fee to get where you need to go. Again, booking in advance can save you a fortune.

There are plenty of reputable companies advertising online that will make sure you get to your destination with minimal fuss. Booking in advance means you can choose a safe and affordable service for the last leg of your journey.

Uninsured claims

If you’ve booked a package holiday then you may have decided not to bother with travel insurance. After all, package breaks are covered by the Air Travel Organiser’s Licence (ATOL) scheme, which means you won’t be left out of pocket if the travel company collapses.

However, that’s not a good enough alternative to having comprehensive travel insurance in place. If you fell ill before the break, missed your flight because of poor weather, or suffered a bereavement and couldn’t go, you’d be very unlikely to get a refund from the tour operator.

If you’ve spent a few thousand pounds then that’s a lot to lose. But even if you’ve found a real bargain and only spent a few hundred quid on your holiday, it’s a good idea to take out insurance.

Travel insurance can be as little as a few pounds, depending on where you’re going and for how long. With it, you won’t be left out of pocket if you are forced to miss your trip.

[Related link: Compare travel insurance policies online]

Excess baggage fees

The charges for having a slightly overweight suitcase can be painful. Many airlines also impose a size limit on hand luggage, so find out exactly what you’re allowed before you pack. Make sure you’re clear on the limits when you’re packing, as they can really vary between providers.

For example, British Airways charges up to £90 for extra bags while Ryanair will charge an excess baggage fee of up to £20 a kilo. Add that to the price of your holiday souvenirs and they stop looking like such a bargain!

If you’re planning to do some serious shopping on your break then try to leave some of your baggage allowance free. You could also consider leaving cheap toiletries behind to give you a bit more weight to play with on the return flight.

Have you ever booked a bargain break or flight only to be stung by unexpected charges? Share your experience or tips with other readers using the comments below.