Brits £5bn holiday debt predicted for 2011

Record numbers of Brits are funding the cost of their holiday this year with their credit card, according to the findings of a report by Travelex.

In a survey of holiday spending habits the leading foreign exchange specialist questioned 1,000 Brits up and down the country. The findings revealed that over a quarter of the population (26 %) are planning to book their summer holiday on their credit card with more than one in ten (11 per cent) having already done so. It represents an increase of more than 10 per cent or up to 5 million more Brits using their credit card to fund the cost of a holiday than last year.

It comes as a recent reports reveal that the rising cost of living is expected to leave Brits as much as £3,000 worse off this year, with a combination of higher prices, lower benefits and pay freezes leaving many struggling to cope in a tough economic climate.

Feedback from Brits revealed that they are spending an average of £400 on their credit cards to fund their holiday, which includes flights and accommodation. It means Brits will clock up over £5bn of holiday credit card debt this year alone. Spain, Portugal and Turkey were revealed as the most popular destinations for Brits to head off abroad.

Ray Osborne, a surveyor from Maidstone, Kent, says: “I’m definitely more out of pocket than this time last year. Just to keep the car on the road is costing me £10 a month more in petrol. But I’m determined to go away this year so I’ve just stuck it on the credit card and I’ll worry about it later.”

Peter Davies, Director, Travelex, comments: “The rise in recent months in the value of the Pound against popular currencies such as the Euro and US Dollar means that holiday destinations in the States and the Euro-zone are offering increasingly good value for money and we’re seeing Brits are determined to make the most of it, even if that means having to fund the cost on their credit cards.

“But many British travellers will still resort to spending on their credit card whilst they’re abroad as well, racking up even further debt. We’d recommend people take a prepaid MasterCard currency card, such as the Travelex Cash Passport™.

They can be used anywhere you’d use your regular plastic but can be loaded with foreign currency before a trip, which is a great way for Brits to manage their money when they are away on holiday. They also don’t incur fees or charges for making purchases and cash withdrawals abroad unlike typical plastic, meaning cardholders can hopefully avoid any nasty surprises upon their return.”

Lost your luggage? You’re in the majority

If nothing’s ever happened to your luggage on holiday, then you’re in the distinct minority; according to a poll by travel add-ons company HolidayExtras.com.

A shocking 63 per cent of British travellers have had their luggage damaged by baggage handlers – in almost half those cases, more than once.

27 per cent of those polled said their luggage had been damaged ‘a handful of times’, and a really unlucky two per cent said it had happened to them ‘countless times’.

“Travellers who need to stay before their flight from London Heathrow really couldn’t do better than to opt for a restful night’s stay at a Comfort Hotel and take advantage of our Free English Breakfast offer”.

Even worse, 10 per cent of people said they had had something stolen from their bag, or that their entire bag had been lost.

Women seemed to worry more than men about keeping their bags secure – 28 per cent said they always locked their suitcase, compared with 18 per cent of men.

HolidayExtras.com’s travel insurance covers travellers for up to £1,500 of lost or damaged luggage – both the luggage itself and the contents.

The company will also forward £100 to cover emergency supplies if someone’s luggage is lost.

Andrea Clayton, head of insurance at Holiday Extras.com, had these tips for travellers:

  • If your luggage contains any valuables, they should be covered by your home contents insurance if they’re lost. However, it’s probably best to leave them at home.
  • Make sure your case is in good condition so it’s not so easy for it to get damaged. Ensure the wheels are secure and the straps are tucked in so nothing can get caught.
  • Unless you have distinctive luggage, put a distinguishing mark on your suitcase, like a piece of coloured ribbon, so you know it’s yours. You can buy straps to put around your luggage with your surname on, and can even have your case shrink-wrapped at the airport after it’s been security checked. There is a charge for this – a cheaper alternative is to padlock it.
  • If you’re travelling with someone else, or taking more than one suitcase yourself, split things like clothes and medication between the two cases so if one gets lost, you still have the other one.
  • Keep your hand luggage with you all the time – even if you just put it down for a minute, that’s enough time for someone to take it.

British holidaymakers want adult only flights

A new half term travel report has found it’s not just business class travellers who yearn for peace and quiet when flying, British holidaymakers also want adult only flights.

The HolidayExtras.com report, which polled nearly 5,000 of its customers, found that a massive 83% of people would like to see adult only areas on flights. Almost a third of people (31%) would go as far as banning children on flights completely and a further 51% would want adult-only cabins.

Rowdy children aren’t the only issue with holidaymakers. Over 75% of those polled said that they suffered because there was not enough leg room, and feeling uncomfortable was the most dreaded aspect of a flight.

Smelly passengers were also seen as a bugbear, with 9% of those surveyed having had their flight spoilt by the foul smell of a neighbour.

Snoring passengers can just relax and have a good kip – only 1% found snoring irritating; though twice as many women than men considered snoring was an issue on a flight.

The service of the cabin crew was generally seen as excellent – with only 4% of those surveyed finding any problems with the standard of in-flight service received.

Anthony Clarke-Cowell, head of product innovation and merchandising at HolidayExtras.com commented, “I’m surprised so many travellers have expressed such a strong desire for adult-only flights.

“Flights abroad always presents a challenge for families and this is reflected in the results. There is clearly a need for more facilities to keep children happily engaged in quieter pastimes both during and before a flight.”