Do not let escaping grey skies give you debt blues

With the holiday season nearing its peak, millions of work-stressed Britons are looking at the grey skies and wondering why they are still here in Blighty. These sentiments are being echoed by less-stressed celebrities who, according to Hello, "are packing their fashionable beach-wear and heading off in search of the perfect summer getaway".

Famous holiday glamour spot Saint Tropez is packing them in as usual, this year hosting the likes of Joan Collins and P. Diddy, with their associated entourages. Original supermodel Cindy Crawford is also on the island at the moment, flying out there last week with her businessman husband to sample the beaches and restaurants.

Following in the footsteps of the stars

Consumers have been searching for destinations favoured by celebrities this summer, according to travel website lastminute.com.

Recently, the Beckhams made a much-trumpeted move to Los Angeles following David Beckham’s transfer to LA Galaxy, while Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes are among several Hollywood stars to holiday in the Maldives, after they began their honeymoon there following their wedding last year.

John Bevan, managing director of lastminute.com UK, says: "With the all the interest surrounding celebrities we have definitely seen an increase in searches particularly for destinations frequented by the rich and famous.

"Search results to the Maldives have increased significantly as have results for LA since the recent hype surrounding the Beckham’s move."

Debts can take off as well

However, holidaymakers would be well advised that their lack of a sponsor or endorsement deal means that they are unlikely to be on the kind of money that the glitterati dispose of so freely.

It is all very well wanting to experience a taste of the high life by visiting the top destinations, but a bit of financial prudence will mean the trip of a lifetime does not come with a return journey to debt hell.

Adrian Kidd, spokesperson for Mint Financial services, said earlier this week: "I can only begin to think about how many holidays are being paid for on credit card. People just think that, even if they haven’t got the money, they can just put it on finance.

"The same scenario will happen in December when you’ve got Christmas, especially if you’ve got children."

Best not to relax completely…

Other problems can arise through using credit cards when actually abroad. As well as the often increased charge for using the card in a foreign country, risks of theft and credit card fraud can be increased. The Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA), which represents more than 6,000 travel brokers, advises travellers to take a mix of cheques as well as cash and a credit card (or debit card).

"Don’t let it out of your sight"

Fraud can be more of a problem abroad than it is in Britain because the chip and pin system has not been rolled out everywhere yet. Accordingly, it is much easier for crooks to obtain cards or card details and use them to make fraudulent transactions. The ABTA advises holidaymakers to keep their wits about them when using their card.

"If you’re paying for something using your card, don’t let it out of your sight – because that is where problems start occurring," warns spokesman Sean Tipton, adding that holidaymakers "should check their bank statements thoroughly for discrepancies when they return home, as the sooner any discrepancies are uncovered the sooner they can be resolved."

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