Travel & holidays – 20 money-related hints & tips

We’re approaching the hottest time of the year in the UAE, a time when many people think about going on holiday to avoid the heat for a while. The long school summer holiday starts shortly so many families and teachers will travel during this time. With this in mind, I’d like to give you a few hints and tips for saving and safeguarding money when travelling.

Before booking

  • If you can be flexible on travel dates, midweek travel or hotel stays can be cheaper.
  • When checking flights make sure to clear the cache on your computer as many people claim that multiple visits to a site can increase the price of tickets.
  • Do make sure you have sufficient validity on your passport. Many countries require six months plus several free pages.
  • Ideally, you will have saved up for any trip rather than putting it on a credit card on which you pay interest over many months.
  • Check prices on comparison flight and also direct with airlines and hotels.

Before travelling

  •  When organising visas online make sure you use the official site as others will also charge administration fees.
  • Make sure you have copies of important documents such as passports, tickets and credit cards in case they are lost and you need to report them. Often a soft copy you can access is all you need.
  • Living in the UAE we become very aware of exchange rates although it can be easy to forget the real costs when on holiday.  Get an exchange app on your phone to keep track.
  • Find out where is the most cost-effective place to get the currency you require. In many cases it is best to buy it in the UAE, or at least take US Dollars with you to exchange in many places.
  • Avoid changing currencies in most airports as the rates are terrible. The exception are countries where they are government controlled such as Sri Lanka. Most hotels also offer poor rates.
  • If you do intend to use a credit or debit card overseas inform your bank so they don’t block your card thinking there is unauthorised use.
  • You may want to consider obtaining a pre-loaded debit card.
  • If you use prescription medicines check the legalities. Are they permitted in the country you are travelling to? Do you need a doctors letter?

While away

  • Be wary of using credit cards in another currency as exchange rates are often poor and there can be additional charges. Same applies to using your UAE debit card in a local ATM.
  • Don’t leave any bags unattended, and keep handbags and backpacks shut too. The UAE is so safe that we tend to forget that there are thieves and pickpockets elsewhere so be on your guard for those who take advantage of the unwary.
  • Be aware of high costs for mobile phones when abroad. Roaming can be expensive to check the costs. You can use Etisalat Smiles points to buy free data can calls when travelling and with Du can but pre-paid roaming bundles to limit your costs.  Many places now offer free wifi, or get a local sim card if you need to make calls and have data on the go.
  • Check out local discount offers. Many places have online offers you can pre-book for attractions.
  • If you do pay by card, don’t let it out of your sight, especially in restaurants.
  • Be smart about what you share on social media so you aren’t alerting thieves to your absence.
  • It can be helpful to make a daily budget and to try and stick to it so you don’t run out of money or overspend.

A little bit of forethought and some smart planning should allow you to enjoy your travels even more so think ahead and be organised. Wishing you fun and safe travels wherever you go!


I write articles such as this one as part of the holistic personal financial planning service and that I provide to expats, and the general consumer, financial and legal information that I provide in The National newspaper, on Capital Radio UAE and on the Facebook group British Expats Dubai. If I can assist you with any personal financial issues, please contact me at  You will find many other useful articles on this website.

About FinancialUAE

A qualified and experienced Independent Financial Adviser based in Dubai, UAE. Professional and ethical. Freelance writer on personal financial issues & the On Your Side column in The National. Founder of Facebook group British Expats Dubai. Senior Partner at Holborn Assets LLC, Dubai, UAE.
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