How to bag a bargain break
It’s “Wanderlust Day” on 14 April, when we all dream of breaking free of routine and exploring new places. But if the high cost of travel these days means that is all holidays are for you – a dream – then think again, as there are still plenty of ways to ensure you get the lowest possible price on a trip around or within the UK.
1. Last minute is so last year
Late availability deals for heavily discounted holidays can still be found, but they aren’t as commonplace as they once were. Booking early can be a better option now, as operators will often have deals like low deposits that you can take advantage of. Holiday companies have become better at working out how many holidays they are likely to sell, so rooms and flights are pre-booked accordingly. This means that they will often have very few rooms and flights left over that they need to shift with lower, last-minute prices. Book early to get the best rates.
2. Avoid weekend travel
Typically, the cheapest days to fly are Tuesday through to Thursday and early morning or overnight flights will often come with a lower price tag. If you can avoid the temptation of departing on a weekend date, when everyone else wants to leave as well, you could save a hefty sum on your air travel. If you have to travel at certain times of year due to school holiday restrictions, pick the middle of the week to go, as the majority of families will travel Friday-Sunday, which means you stand a better chance of getting a lower price.
3. Make your holiday booking a New Year’s resolution
We’ve missed the boat with this one now (unless you beat us to it) but January is often the month in which you’ll find the best holiday deals, so if you can book just after Christmas your bank balance is likely to thank you for it. After the festive period, holidays are often on people’s minds – particular because of the dreary winter weather – and holiday companies are only too aware of that, so lower prices will often be offered.
4. Falling stars
This is something that holidaymakers often fail to think about, but dropping a star rating can knock significant amounts off your holiday booking price. If you normally frequent 5* accommodation, look at 3* or 4* hotels. Quite often, the differences in quality will be minimal. Besides, you aren’t going to be in your hotel room all that much during your trip, so don’t get too caught up on splashing out on the very best when you won’t actually end up spending that much time there.
5. Good things don’t always come in packages
While it might seem like the easy option to book a package deal through a tour operator that offers the flights and accommodation all thrown in, you may be able to find a cheaper deal by doing just a little bit of extra work and booking everything separately. Don’t be tempted by the add-ons at the end of a booking like airport transfers, travel insurance and other extras without seeing how the prices compare first. Comparison is key and shopping around can end up saving you a small fortune.
6. Opt for all-inclusive
All-inclusive board options are not reserved for those with more money to spend in the first place. Although self-catering can seem like the cheapest option, it’s rare that holidaymakers prepare all their own food throughout the stay. Dining out for breakfast, lunch and dinner can quickly eat away at your budget, but if your holiday is all-inclusive (and you stick to eating/drinking at the accommodation) it will end up a cheaper overall experience. All-inclusive meal plans cater for all diets and tastes these days, with buffet-style hotel restaurants common abroad; meaning there’s almost always something for the whole family.
7. Don’t fly from your closest airport
If travelling abroad, don’t automatically opt for the nearest airport from your home. You may find that departing from a London airport can be a cheaper option, even when taking into account the travel costs to get there from your home. Be sure to compare flights from a range of airports to ensure your choice is the most economical one.
8. Be web-wise
Booking a holiday online, whether your trip is abroad or in the UK, is often a better way of securing a deal. If you go into a high street travel agency, you could be lured into a deal that’s well over the budget you set for yourself. What’s more, there’s almost always a mark-up on holidays sold on the high street, because the sales staff have to get their cut. Booking online means you have the freedom to compare deals until you’re happy with the quoted price, so stick to the web for a better deal.
Tips courtesy of Chris Clarkson, Managing Director of online travel agency www.sunshine.co.uk