Last minute holidaymakers count the cost of delay

22 October 2009

With half term just around the corner, over 4.8 million people (10 per cent) are set to go abroad, but many of these will leave the planning and purchasing of holiday essentials until the very last minute according to new research from Post Office Travel Services.

While many will try to grab a bargain through last minute holiday deals, it doesn't always pay to wait until the last minute for holiday cash. Leaving it to the last minute to buy at the airport could cost travellers as much as an extra £86 - which is an increase of 10 per cent - through fees and poorer exchange rates. Even exchanging the average amount - £286 - could add an extra £22 to the overall cost by leaving it to the last minute.

Over three million people (seven per cent) leave buying their foreign currency until 24 hours before departure, by picking it up either a day before they travel, on the day they travel or at the airport. Almost two million (four per cent) people buy their foreign currency when they reach their destination.

Travel insurance is an essential item when going abroad, but worryingly, one in five people (20 per cent) fail to take this out at all before they leave the UK, leaving themselves unprotected during their trip abroad. Those living in East Anglia are most likely to holiday without travel insurance, with 29 per cent stating they do not take out cover before going abroad.

Packing is one of the most common holiday elements left until the last minute. Over a third (33 per cent) of people don't start packing until the day before they travel and this rises to 42 per cent of those aged between 20 and 29. Although arriving without your favourite flip flops or holiday hat may be inconvenient, failing to pick up holiday cash or getting insurance cover before departure could leave holidaymakers seriously out of pocket.

The Post Office research shows that the trend of leaving holiday preparations to the last minute affects the whole nation, with everyone appearing time poor when it comes to the run up to their holiday. However, Londoners are the worst when it comes to leaving their foreign currency to the last minute with 10 per cent not purchasing currency until the day before they travel, on the day they travel or at the airport.

Sarah Munro, head of Post Office Travel Services, said: "With the half term holiday looming it's a great time to escape for a relaxing break, but those who leave their planning to the last minute are creating stress for themselves and more worryingly putting themselves at risk. Buying foreign currency at the last minute can leave you with less cash to spend while you're away due to hidden fees and poorer rates. We also urge consumers not to leave their travel insurance to the last minute either to ensure they are covered for cancellation should an illness or an emergency happen before they travel."

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