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Are we nearly there yet? Saving money holidaying in the UK

Going anywhere nice this year?

The UK is bracing itself for news of the lifting of national and international COVID-19 travel restrictions as early as 7 May 2021.

Whilst we are becoming more confident that we may be able to travel and go on holiday after a turbulent year, many of us may still be nervous of going abroad. This includes concerns about other countries, flights and possible difficulties with refunds. Also many people are wanting to support UK business owners and are now on tight budgets.

UK money bloggers provide some tips for booking and taking holidays in the UK this year to ensure your hard-earned break can go as smoothly as possible.

Consumer rights

Helen Dewdney The Complaining Cow, consumer champion, advises that consumers should be aware of their rights when booking holidays, especially if they have to cancel. Over the last year we have seen a number of companies illegally refuse to give refunds offering vouchers or alternative dates when lockdown prevented holidays being taken. The Competitions and Markets Authority (CMA) has intervened in some cases, taking action against companies.

She advises looking at the companies who have treated customers badly over the last year and take reviews into consideration. Helen says “Remember also that you are covered by the Consumer Rights Act 2015. Services should be carried out with reasonable skill and care and so you are entitled to redress if they aren’t! Your contract is with the business to which you paid the money.”

If you have to go to different accommodation due to overbooking then you can claim for breach of contract. This would be what a court would deem as reasonable and could be the difference between the cost of the booked hotel and the new accommodation. You might also claim for extra travel expenses (such as taxis) incurred due to the overbooking. Your rights when your hotel overbooks

If you need to complain see Top 20 Tips for complaining effectively.

5 top tips for complaining effectively

When a venue cancels

Coronavirus - how to ensure you gain redress when a venue cancels

Where to stay

“If you’re not too bothered about a beach break, then consider visiting to a UK city”, says Claire St from Stapos Thrifty Life Hacks. Typically it would be rather costly to visit London or Edinburgh, but there are some real bargains to be had at the moment.

“Many of these city hotels survive on business travel and international travel. Obviously this has tanked over the past 12 months and it’s unlikely to pick up for the foreseeable. These hoteliers have rooms to fill and they’d rather reduce their rates to get a bum in a bed, then have half of their rooms lying empty. So if you’ve always wanted to visit Manchester, Bristol, or York, then now’s the time. Consider booking a room with an in-room fridge and a kettle, so you can keep food costs down during your trip.”

Saving money on accommodation

Young Fun and Thrifty blogger, Jo Yeomans, loves to stay in places that have their own cooking facilities available, as it helps her to save on food costs. Sometimes this will be private AirBnBs, but she’s also made use of shared kitchens in guest houses and hostels. “You can even get creative with just a fridge. I’ll typically still have one meal out each day, but will eat breakfast where I’m staying and often make up a picnic lunch to take out for the day. Just remember to add a food container to your packing to avoid any squashed sandwiches!”

If you’re booking a cottage or holiday let, it’s always worth contacting the owner directly, rather than booking through a travel company. Hayley Muncey from Savvy Sloth says that “Owners are often happy to give you a cheaper rate for booking direct. Travel companies charge fees or commissions, so the rates are usually higher for the same stay.”

Be careful of properties that are on sites like Airbnb though. Booking direct may not be the safest thing to do as regards protection and an owner could get banned for trying to book privately. See more How to prevent problems when booking a holiday let (plus what to do when things go wrong) for more on this.

How to prevent problems when booking a holiday let (plus what to do when things go wrong)

Think of house swapping too!

Things to do on holiday in the UK

Faith Archer, from Much More With Less, has lots of simple free and low-cost ideas. “I always pack my driving licence and ID, so I can get visitor membership of the local library. Means we can borrow books and DVDs for the kids, and libraries often have toys to play with on a rainy day. I also take National Trust and English Heritage membership cards, plus the 2-for-1 garden entry card from Gardeners’ World magazine, so we can visit local attractions for less. We go on self-catering holidays to cut costs, so I make a vat of bolognese or curry beforehand to eat on the first night. This helps avoid the temptation of an expensive takeaway after travelling!”

Vouchers, discounts and cashback sites

Money Saving Central blogger, Claire Roach, always purchases trips to UK hotels and getaways via Wowcher and Groupon. “You can save a fortune via these discount deal websites, particularly Groupon as they often have a voucher code you can use alongside the already discounted prices. I recently purchased a week at Pontins for £139 during half term. The same break was £459 on the Pontins website.”

Emma Bradley, who blogs at Mums Savvy Savings, uses discount codes and cashback sites like Topcashback to save some money on booking breaks. “These sites give cash back which you can then use as spending money. It can take a little time searching out any offers but it is worth it”. She  also uses Clubcard points and swaps them for reward partners meal vouchers which makes eating out a real bargain. “You just need to be prepared and then you can make good savings!”

Travelling in the UK

If you’re a National Trust member, look for NT coastal car parks to slash the cost of parking – they are free with your membership and parking near beaches can otherwise be costly if you’re there for a long day. Emma Maslin, The Money Whisperer blogger, takes advantage of this and in the same vein says that “Often it’s cheaper to purchase a season ticket for beach parking, it can work out the same cost as a few days of regular parking but works out a lot cheaper if you’re there for a couple of weeks. Ask!”

There are still ways to save on travelling even if you don’t drive! The Savvy Scientist, Jeff Clark, doesn’t have a car, so often travels by train. He advises booking tickets far in advance and travelling at unpopular times which can massively reduce the costs. “I once saved a fortune by booking an early morning train to the Lake District on New Year’s day. The Two Together railcard also comes in handy when travelling with my partner as it gets us another 1/3rd off.”

Virgin train not providing tickets early enough

He cheekily suggests using work too! “In the past I’ve also had holidays at conference destinations as the travel is already paid for through work!” Naomi Willis from Skint Dad advises using Tesco Clubcard points too. She gets a free annual Friends and Family Railcard and says “It slashes the cost of our train travel when we have breaks away in the UK.”


Happy holidaying!

More help with UK holidays

For more tips on saving money on UK holidays see How to give your family and your wallet a holiday

Look out timber frame on a beach "researching, booking and complaining aabout holidays and flights. Tips, ideas and your rights"


SeeAll you need to know about booking/complaining about holidays/flights/travel for numerous posts on saving money and your rights booking and taking holidays and trips and stays in the UK and abroad and what to do when things go wrong.


You can also Purchase downloadable templates to gain redress to help with most issues. Includes Holiday, flight and event complaint templates


Importing goods into the UK – all you need to know

Logistics unlocked

Recently I wrote a post  Buying from Europe? Import changes made it a whole lot more complicated and costlier! I found that complicated to get my head round and that was just for consumers! When it came to importing for businesses it was even more complicated! So I asked Lisa Grove to write a guest post!

Questions about importing charges

The last year has certainly brought its challenges. Brexit has raised many questions in the retail arena. Where the free trade agreement ended, a plethora of questions began. How do I import into the UK? What do I need? What are my legal responsibilities as an importer of goods?

I’d say these are the most frequent questions I’ve been asked in the last six months. Unfortunately, there isn’t a one size fits all answer to this. Obviously, what commodity you are looking to import or export, along with the anticipated volume of product, will be major factors. If you haven’t already, I recommend starting with the government’s Check, Change, Go. While this was part of their prepare for Brexit campaign, it will give you a good indication of where to begin.

So, what do you need?


An EORI is an Economic Operator Registration and Identification Number. Essentially, it’s a digital reference ID that is unique to your business for tracking and registering customs information. You will, however, need EORI in place whether you are VAT registered or not. It is very simple to apply for, takes less than 72 hours to come through and is free to get, so don’t let anyone try and charge you!

Incoterms: What are they and what do they mean to your business?

INCOTERMS or International Commercial Terms are a set of pre-defined trade codes, compiled by the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC). They are used as a basis for sales contracts, and clearly establish the ‘point of delivery’ within a contract. This avoids any confusion or misunderstanding for both buyer and seller. The responsibilities and costs associated with shipping globally are clearly defined within the terms.

If you were shipping goods from the EU prior to Brexit, then you’ll need to review your INCOTERMS and re-confirm them with your suppliers. The guidance is currently that DDP is switched to DAP and EXW is switched to FCA. If you’re not sure about the responsibilities of each, then hopefully the diagram below will help.

What’s an HTS?

Home Theatre System? Alas, no. HTS is the Harmonised Tariff System. In plain English, it’s a 10-digit commodity code that classifies your products.

You can search for your HTS code on the HMRC website. There is a search function, however, I warn you it’s not a simple as it sounds. If you’re searching for a ‘dress’, you’ll need to know if it’s women’s or girls? What’s it made from? Is it knitted or woven? You need to be able to drill down to the very detail of the product, to ensure that you correctly classify your goods, and ultimately pay the correct rates of duty & VAT.

It’s worth noting that the first six digits of the HTS code are internationally recognised. So, you may find that the supplier includes the HTS code on their paperwork. Don’t assume that it is correct, but it will give you the right area to look in as a starting point.

Making a declaration to HMRC

Customs declarations will need to be made on all import and export movements. You can complete

the declaration yourself or use a forwarder or broker. You are responsible for the declarations, even if you have a forwarder or agent doing this for you. It is best to provide them with instructions rather than leave them to do their own thing. If they make a mistake, and you have not issued any instruction, you are fully liable for those errors.

What about duty & VAT?

From a retail and business point of view, you need to factor in the potential duty and VAT. There are six different methods for calculating import duty & VAT. However, method one is the most common, and I’ve detailed how you can calculate what you should expect to pay:-

Value of Goods: £1125


Cost to Ship: £150*

* Even if there is no cost to you because your terms are pre-paid, if the freight is not show in the build up of the value of goods or the invoice not clearly marked, then an amount will be declared on the customs declaration. I’ve given a rough estimate would of £150 for this ‘order’.


Insurance: £3.18**

**Again you might not be paying this charge, but the industry standard calculation is 0.25% of the Cost of Goods + The cost of Shipping (£1125+£150 x 0.25% = £3.18)

VAT Adjustment Fee: £100***


*** This also isn’t a payable fee as such, but it makes up part of the dutiable value. This amount will vary depending on the mode of shipping (sea, air, rail etc), and the volume weight of the consignment. For the purpose of this calculation, I have used the airfreight rate, which is: 40p per chargeable kilo or a minimum amount of £100, whichever is the greater. The VAT Adjustment represents the UK proportion of the freight charges (Import clearance, handling, delivery etc), regardless of if they cost more or less than £100.

Duty Rate = 12% (For the purpose of this declaration, we’ve established this dress is cotton, from China and is a woman’s)

VAT Rate = 20%

Duty is calculated: Value of Goods + Shipping costs + Insurance + VAT Adjustment Fee x 12% Duty

£1125 + £150 + £3.18 + £100 = £1378.18 x 12% = £165.38

VAT is calculated: Value of Goods + Shipping costs + Insurance + VAT Adjustment Fee + Duty outlaid x 20%

£1125 + £150 + £3.18 + £100 + £165.38 = £1543.56 x 20% = £308.71

Duty Payable = £165.38

VAT Payable = £308.71


You can of course ask your courier/haulier/forwarder for advice and further info, but please remember that it’s your responsibility as an importer/exporter to be compliant. Their advice is just that, and unfortunately in this country there is no such thing as a licenced broker, so that guidance can vary greatly at times.

How can I prepare my business

If you’re not yet importing or exporting, but are planning to do so, then there are some actions that you can take now;

  1. Apply for a GB EORI number (If you’ve already got one, then you’re ahead of the game here!)
  2. Source a Customs Intermediary – either a customs agent, Freight Forwarder or broker. If you know anyone who already purchases from overseas, then start by asking for their recommendation. Suppliers may also nominate a forwarder, but if you’re paying the freight, then you need to specify.
  3. Prepare resources for entry instructions – Know your goods, classify them and ascertain their HTS code. You’ll also need to know the country of origin – don’t assume it’s the same as the country you’re purchasing from.
  4. Monitor changes and updates to trade agreements related to your business or products.

What if I have a higher volume of shipments?

  1. Consider applying for a Duty Deferment Account (DDA): When you are importing goods regularly it can be beneficial to have a duty deferment account (DDA). This enables customs charges, including customs duty, excise duty, and import VAT to be paid once a month through Direct Debit, instead of being paid on individual consignments.
  2. You can also investigate if a SIVA Deferment account might be beneficial (Simplified Import VAT Accounting). This works on a similar basis to a Duty Deferment Account, but only enables payment of VAT on account. You will need to have your customs and VAT records in order, for the last 3 years. It is still possible to apply if you have been VAT registered for less than three years, but you will be subject to more stringent credit reference checks.

Please don’t panic or be overwhelmed by the terminology here. These are both just options, and realistically, they will only be beneficial if you are shipping large volumes of stock, frequently.

In Summary

I wish I could give you a magic wand or at the very least a failsafe list of actions to ensure you have everything covered. Sadly, there are just too many variables and specifics – not to mention my wand broke years ago

The best advice I can give you as business owners, is to work through the action points above, do your research and ensure that you are as prepared as you can be.

Try not to feel overwhelmed. Work out a list that is applicable (or potentially) to your supply chain. Then break it down into manageable chunks. Start with Check, Change, Go, then apply for your EORI, if you haven’t already. Prioritise the rest by urgency and time to implement.

About the Author

Lisa is a Virtual Assistant (VA) and runs Above & Beyond Admin. She’s qualified in International Trade and Service and worked as a global account manager for a large logistics company.

She has extensive experience in logistics, both as a VA and as an account manager. Lisa has co-ordinated end to end logistics solutions for many blue-chip companies, including those in the Military, Aerospace and Retail sectors. She was awarded Runner Up BIFA Young Freight Forwarder of the Year, UKACC Customer Service Agent of the Year and the YRC President’s Award Winner.

If you struggle with organisation or time management, then you might like to download her FREE Essential Digital Toolkit to help manage your task list.

If you’re looking for assistance with classifying your goods, preparing customs declaration instructions, or want to talk through what’s specifically required for your business, then  you can find out more about her logistics unlocked service here.

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