Travel Unravelled: Why taking sterling to Turkey will leave you quids in, plus big money in Vegas
Wednesday 22 August 2012
Q: I'm off to Turkey. I have about €500. Should I change my euros for Turkish lira or take sterling?
Karen Fagg, Harefield
A: Given the excellent rates that you can expect for changing sterling in Turkey, most holidaymakers will gain no advantage from taking euros. While you might get only 2.40 lira for each £1 at a UK airport, or 2.60 on the high street, you can expect 2.70 or better in Turkey itself. The margins for sterling at Turkish bureaux de change are about as narrow as they are for euros. So it would probably be in your interests to hang on to the €500 until your next trip to the eurozone. There are, however, three possible good reasons for taking euros. First, if your trip involves paying locally for accommodation, and you will be staying at a hotel that quotes rates in euros, then it could be advantageous to pay with euros. Next, if you plan to stray off the beaten tourist track, euros are likely to be more recognised by local traders than Sterling. Finally, if you are unsure how much you might spend, having a couple of hundred euros stashed away is a good plan in a low-crime country such as Turkey.
Whatever you decide, you will need a crisp £10 note upon arrival to pay your "visa fee" at Turkish immigration.
Q: I'm booking a trip to Las Vegas. Direct flights are an astounding £2,000 each, but we can get a five-night package (flight/hotel) for around £850 each for the same dates. Why is it so expensive to book flights separately?
Joan Hellawell, Barnet
A: The ludicrous fares arise because you do not plan to stay in Nevada over a Saturday night. In a hangover from the bad old days of high fares, the airlines still seek to extract huge sums from transatlantic passengers who they imagine may be business travellers – with the tired idea that anyone who stays at the destination for a weekend must be on holiday.
Shrewd travellers, whether on business or vacation, get around the "Saturday-night rule" by booking a package including airfare and a hotel. This unlocks seats at sensible prices. Even if you never check in, you will save a fortune – as you will if you shift your dates to include a Saturday night.
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