Foreign travel can be an expensive undertaking - particularly if you are unprepared. For those of you planning to jet off to the continent for a couple of weeks in the sun, it's pivotal you understand how to get the best euro exchange rate possible to help drive down your expenses.
If you're an inexperienced traveller, getting to grips with the finer points of the currency exchange market can be a tricky task - but it's fairly straight-forward once you wade through the economic jargon. Simply put, buying rate refers to the rate at which you pay for foreign cash with your native currency, and selling rate is essentially the reverse.
Like any other aspect of holiday planning, you need to be proactive in order to ensure everything goes off without a hitch. This is particularly true in the case of your travel money because there is an obvious correlation between how desperate you are and how much you are likely to be served a raw deal. In other words, putting it on the back-burner until you touch down at your destination is probably not a good idea (though there is no guarantee of a good deal either way - euro exchange fluctuations can sometimes catch even the most well-informed economists off guard).
The first thing you can do from the comfort of home is to make sure you are equipped with a card that can be used in Europe without accruing any service charges - this is a good idea even if you are intending to mainly deal in cash, as you might end up needing a safety net to fall back on in the event of an emergency. Charges can total around 2 or 3% of your bill, so it's unwise to go in with just your standard debit card.
If your high street bank isn't so accommodating to holidaymakers, companies such as Travelex offer customers a prepaid card which can be used on the continent in lieu of a conventional debit or credit card - including for ATM withdrawals. Using this method, you will be charged according to the going exchange rate at the time of your topping up, rather than on each individual expenditure.
When it comes to sourcing your cash, there are plenty of online services to choose from, with Virgin, Sainsbury's, Tesco, the Post Office and even Debenhams getting in on the act. As mentioned above, timing is everything; these companies offer a far more favourable euro exchange rate than those which operate out of airport kiosks - so don't leave things too late (happily, plenty of these services provide next day delivery at no extra cost).
If you're interested in making a little extra income speculating on the euro exchange market, it's fair to say right now is a pretty interesting time to come on board. With the euro's value fluctuating so wildly, the risk and reward is higher than ever. In addition to nerves of steel, you'll need an analytical eye - otherwise you could end up falling victim to what is a particularly volatile market. For those who are little more risk-averse, there's still plenty of money to be saved (if not made) by buying comparably cheap goods on the continent.