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Top tips to save money on Eid, summer travel

As thousands of UAE residents prepare to travel abroad, money experts share tips to avoid returning home broke

Dubai: As thousands of travelers prepare to go overseas this weekend or during the rest of the summer, Dubai’s money experts are advising them to keep an eye on their spending, lest they return home with a big hole in their bank account.

From maximizing exchange rates to managing their itinerary and scoring cheaper tickets, financial experts have come up with a list of wallet-friendly tips to avoid getting broke and make their dirham go further this summer.

Scoring cheap tickets

If you haven’t booked a ticket for this weekend yet, it may be too late to find cheap airfares. But fret not. You can schedule a summer holiday after Eid without spending a fortune. According to Preeti Bhambri, managing director at MoneyCamel.com, tickets are actually more reasonably priced in August this year.

As a general rule, however, keep in mind that it is better to avoid booking tickets right after school vacations, particularly between June 26 and July 6, and also immediately after the first day of Eid, or between July 19 to July 26, according to Bhambri.

Hotel bookings

As almost everyone has travel plans for the summer, expect hotel prices to cost more than usual especially between July and August. To avoid draining your holiday money, choose a hotel apartment or privately owned holiday home.

This will be a smart move especially when you are traveling with family. Sites like airbnb.com or flipkey.com offer a list of options for vacation houses or flats being rented out by private owners.

Use cards that offer rewards

It’s inevitable that you’re going to have to use a credit or debit card when you travel. In that case, it may be a good idea to get a travel reward credit card. According to Bhambri, travel rewards can get you a number of benefits:

  • Free travel insurance when ticket is purchased using the card
  • Free lounge access at airports. A lounge access can prove useful when you end up taking odd hour flights or you need to rest between connecting flights
  • Free pick up and drop off service
  • Cash back on expenses made abroad

Do your homework

It is essential that you do some research about the place you’re traveling to before taking the flight. Find time to read reviews from other tourists. Sites that can help you plan your itinerary include tripadvisor.com, where real travelers post reviews of best hotels to book, restaurants to dine in or places to visit. Bhambri said you will do your wallet a favour if you choose to take the public transport system, so keep this in mind as well when you do a little research about your destination.

Bring some cash

If you end up in a place where there are no ATMs or local vendors don’t accept plastic money, cash will come really handy. Those traveling to Greece, in particular, are well advised to bring some cash, but not too much. However, Bhambri said you could book and pay in advance for major expenses online, such as for hotels and city tours, so you don’t have to bring your entire savings with you.

Keep tabs of your holiday bill

With the dollar or dirham enjoying better exchange rates compared to other currencies, many expatriates in the UAE will likely feel flush while holidaying abroad. Money experts said this can lead people into making buying decision that they will regret later on. “Feeling a bit more flush on holiday can lead people into making slightly more hasty financial decisions,” said Sam Instone, chief executive of AES International.

British expatriates, in particular, are going t feel they have more cash to burn, considering that the exchange rates between the sterling and euro are at their most favourable since 2007. Rates have been hovering between €1.3 and €1.4 per pound for the past month, according to AES International, which provides financial advice to British expatriates.

“More often that not, these just lead to a bigger bar bill.” Instone noted that the “intoxicating mix of sun, sand and Sangria” can sometimes lead to much more substantial financial decisions being made besides buying expensive souvenirs or dining at posh restaurants. People sometimes end up buying a house, holiday club or timeshare while on holiday.

“On many occasions, people successfully purchase holiday homes and the dream works out well. Unfortunately, in some instances, people find themselves either stuck with half built homes, no property and large debts or even facing serious legal problems.”

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