Read our exclusive report into the true cost of taking your family away on a bargain holiday holiday. Kelly’s exclusive feature appeared in the yourlife section of the Daily Mirror.

How much will your bargain holiday REALLY cost?

Holiday spending is always more than just the price of the actual trip – all the preparations and arrangements to be made before leaving can really add up.

As soon as you set foot in the airport – and don’t forget to budget the cost of getting there – you enter a minefield of charges. But you can side-step hidden costs. Here’s how…

Pack light

Now that many airlines are charging fees for checking bags, packing light has never been more important. Try to stick to one bag and, if possible, make it a bag that can be carried on, though many airlines are cracking down on it (especially international flights), so do check before you travel.

Buy your medical essentials online

All your holiday essentials (suncream, after-sun, mosquito repellent, various medications) can cost a fair bit of money, particularly from your local Superdrug or Boots.

Instead, visit www.ChemistDirect.co.uk which supplies all of your medication needs – just cheaper! The only downside is that you will need to pay £2.95 for delivery unless you spend more than £40.

Get the best insurance

If you travel abroad more than once a year, you would probably benefit from annual rather than single-trip cover.

Watch for the phone sting

Do you know how much it will cost you to make and receive mobile phone calls abroad? At up to £1.49 a minute, you may want to leave the phone at home.

Beware travel surcharges

Your travel company could ask for a surcharge even after you have booked to cover the cost of the soaring euro. A total of 18 firms, mostly operating to Spain, want up to 10% of the holiday.

Pack sandwiches

In-flight meals are not always included in the price of holidays. Book them in advance and expect to pay around £10 per adult and £5 per child for an outbound and inbound tray. If you’re flying no-frills, take your own.

Buy currency in advance

If you leave your money purchase until you reach the airport, you will get about 10% less than if you buy elsewhere. You should also make sure you are not taken in by “no commission” deals, as they often have a worse exchange rate.

Plenty of high street banks, travel agents, the Post Office and Marks & Spencer sell commission-free currency but they may require at least four working days’ notice.

Be wary of using your card abroad

Most debit cards will charge for transactions abroad. You might prefer to use a pre-paid currency card, such as the Travelex Cash Passport or the Caxton FX Mastercard. You can usually get these free and all you need to do is pre-load it with currency – at no extra cost.

Book your airport parking before you go

Turn up on the day and you’ll very likely feel sick at the price to park your car for a week or two. So do your research, check your insurance or AA membership for offers, check hotels that offer one-night, pre-flight stays that include long-term parking, look for off-site parking offers or, best of all, get someone to run you there and back.

Cut transfer costs

If you can’t do that, there are plenty of other options.

In the UK, minicabs are a sensible option but you must book in advance. If you don’t, and you want a taxi, the only option is official on-site ranks, which can cost a fortune.

Look to see if you can get public transport to and from the airport here and at your destination. You’ll save a fortune.

Save on kennels

Got a cat or dog? If you’re not careful you could end up spending almost as much on their holiday accommodation as your own! The UK average daily rate for a dog is £11.04 and £6.69 for a cat.

However, there are organisations which will come in and look after your animal while you’re away, or why not form a pet-sitting circle with your neighbours and take it in turns?

If you’re holidaying in the UK, you could look for dog-friendly places. Some hotels will let you take your pet.

Find the best prices

Holiday Which? editor Patricia Yates says: “Many people shop around to save money on their holiday and our research shows it’s also well worth shopping around to save money on all the extras you’re taking with you.”

Cut the cost of pre-holiday beauty treatments

Women spend a further £170 on beauty products and treatments to ensure they have that sun-kissed, glamorous look before they even hit the beach.

To save money, swap your beauty parlour for a beauty college. These offer haircuts, colourings, manicures and other spa treatments at low prices.

Save on your wardrobe

The average woman actually spends £200 more on the clothes for her holiday than on the trip itself.

Crazy when you think they’re probably only worn for a week or two! Save money by buying on ebay or from your local charity shop, or have a clothes-swapping party with friends.

Hire a car on the internet

Car hire can be expensive if you don’t book ahead. Websites like www.carhiremarket.com and www. car rentals.co.uk allow you to compare the cost.

And do you really need a car?

If you do decide to hire a car, it’s also a good idea to take out excess reimbursement insurance before you travel. That way you can side-step the excess-waiver you’ll be offered by your hire firm, which can cost as much as £10 a day.

Taking out your own insurance will work out much cheaper.

Shop around for breakdown cover

Yes, there’s the AA and RAC but any number of companies offer the same type of policies for less. Worth investigating if you’re taking the ferry to France.