Avoid these hidden holiday costs

I've just booked my summer holiday - a great cheap package including everything from flights and accommodation to meals and sporting activities. Hurrah!

However, even the most comprehensive packages can have hidden costs attached. Here are five financial holiday hiccups to avoid...

1. Airport exchange
The first rule of any holiday is don't change your currency at the airport!

The signs may say '0% commission' - but the exchange rate you're offered is likely to be absolutely awful. So - make sure you plan in advance and do your research into rates; often the best ones can be found online.

2. Travel insurance excess
Most of us just make sure we've got travel insurance, then breathe a sign of relief. Unfortunately, many people don't think to check their excess.

The excess is the amount you'll have to shell out before your insurer will cough up for any claim. So for example, if you lose our jacket and your excess is £100, you'll end up covering most of the cost yourself!

You can reduce your excess - or get rid of it entirely - by paying a bit more for the overall package. Decide what you'd prefer to do, so you don't end up getting a nasty surprise.

3. Overseas card charges
Many debit and credit cards levy extra fees and charges when they're used overseas. For example, you're likely to be charged when using your debit card to withdraw cash from an ATM.

However, some cards are much more 'holiday-friendly' than others, charging less fees or none at all. Again, it's all about finding the right product well in advance.

4. False economising
Super-cheap flight deals can be very tempting. £2 return to Spain - wow! Unfortunately, it's not just the extra taxes you have to worry about.

For example, you may think flying in the middle of the night is worth it - because it saves you a bit of cash. However, if there's no public transport at that hour, you may end up blowing your entire saving on a very expensive taxi.

So, try to think about all associated costs, rather than just the low headline fare.

5. Hire car heist
There are numerous horror stories about tourists getting taking for a ride (metaphorically speaking) by hire car companies. Of course, you could be ripped off in the UK, too - but if you're in an unfamiliar environment with a language barrier, you become even more vulnerable.

A common scam is for the car hire firm to 'find' a scratch or dent - apparently made by you - when you return the vehicle. It will then charge you a huge extra fee for this damage.

Very often, the damage was there already - you just won't have noticed it. To avoid being 'had' in this way, make sure you check over the car closely (and take lots of clear photos) when you pick it up.

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