I’m sure, like me, you guys are hoping to save money where possible when booking a holiday without compromising on quality.
I like to think I’ve become some sort of expert on this (this is a complete egotistical exaggeration on my part haha). For a number of years I have been responsible for booking the family holiday villa and grabbing the best deals.
So much so that I now pride myself on being able to find good holiday deals. Yes, I may only have experience with this in a handful of holidays, nevertheless my confidence has not let me down in this area.
Today I’ve decided to compile 10 of my best tips to help you save some £££ when booking your ideal holiday.
Please bear in mind that I’m not talking about travel agent package holidays. If you’re all about that then get yourself down to the nearest Thomson, Thomas Cook etc and get booking. However, before you do that you might want to take a look at the case study I’ve compiled at the end of this article…
Now it’s time for me to stop rambling and give you what you’re here for:
1. Be flexible with location
Obviously if you have a country in mind then it’s hard to be flexible here. However, if you’re undecided check flight prices/accommodation to different countries. Turkey is quite a cheap holiday destination, however flight times are around 4-5hrs so the flights will cost more than going to Spain for example, but you might save more in the long run. It’s worth playing around with destinations, keeping in mind the following tips, to see how cheap you can book your holiday.
Also be flexible with accommodation. I’ll go into how to book affordable shelter later on. However, it’s worth noting that stays near the sea can potentially be more expensive than staying in more rural areas that are maybe around 40 minutes drive to the beach. Again, if you’re happy to travel to see the coast this could save you some £££.
2. Be flexible with dates
I think we all know by now how ridiculously high prices shoot in the school holidays. Therefore, if possible book in term time. Schools usually break up around mid-July so you can still go in summer time but without prices shooting.
Here’s a quick example:
Flying from London Luton to Faro on Tuesday 4th July 2017 and then returning on the 18th of the same month costs around £99 for two people return with Easyjet.
Same airports but with the dates 17th July to the 31st July and the price jumps to around £182. Now I still think that is a great deal for school holiday time flights, but if you can save yourself £83 why wouldn’t you?
3. Be flexible with where you fly from
In the UK we’re fortunate enough to have a considerable amount of airports with a variety of flight destinations. Certain destinations are cheaper to fly to depending on the point of departure.
To demonstrate this I looked at flights from the UK to Faro and compared the difference. I noticed that there was around a £30 difference between London airports alone.
Keep in mind that sometimes the hassle to drive to a further airport (& parking) and taking into consideration fuel costs, it might not work out a better deal.
4. Take less luggage
Not only is this less hassle, but it can save you money on flights. On a recent trip to Lake Garda it cost £38 per person each way to add hold luggage. So we just took cabin bags and actually we managed to fit in everything we needed. Find out how you can effectively pack your cabin bag here.
5. Use sites like these for accommodation
Air b’n’b is an obvious one these days. There are so many different types of accommodation and it’s really easy to see the prices and book.
One I have been using for many years is OwnersDirect. You can email the hosts and negotiate prices. More on this later. But this is a big one for apartments and private villas and you can even select search filters such as ‘private pool’.
If you’re after a hotel try sites like Trivago and Booking.com. Although not all hotels will be on these sites, so it’s worth looking at hotels from a Google search to try and find the best prices.
Check these out:
6. Don’t rely on price comparison sites for flights
I just ran a quick search on Kayak and this seems a very reliable price comparison website for flights. However, when searching for flights I tend to go straight to the airline websites who I know will give me cheap prices. The best ones are: Easyjet, Ryanair, Monarch and Jet2. If you’re travelling within Europe or to Ibiza or Majorca (from Southampton) try airline Volotea.
I personally have booked most flights directly through the airlines as I’m wary that I’m not getting the best flight deals shown to me on comparison sites. This is because airlines will have to pay commission to the comparison website if you book through them, therefore to save and keep costs low some airlines won’t be on these types of sites. Therefore, it’s always best to double check.
7. Don’t be afraid to ask for deals
This is where Owners Direct and other similar sites are great. The best thing to do is pick your dates and check the availability calendar of the accommodations you’re looking at. If you can see that the dates you want happen to be free and they’re booked up on other dates email and ask for a deal. They’ll more than likely want to make some money than none at all.
The best way to snag a deal is to book a few days before going. This is obviously riskier, but you’ll more than likely find something if you are flexible. A few years ago me and my partner booked a holiday to Turkey about 3 days before we left and I found a loads of available villas and emailed them to see if they would do 2 weeks for the price of one. Of course not everyone will do this, but remember the worst they can say is no.
However, we had a yes and we paid £500 for a fortnight at a secluded villa near Saklikent Gorge in Turkey with a private pool. They had just had long term tenants leave so there was no furniture upstairs, but we had a bedroom, bathroom, lounge and kitchen downstairs which was more than enough room for 2 of us. It was out of the way and we did hire a car after a few days which we were planning to do anyway but we loved it. It pays to ask!
8. Be tactical with hiring a car
Again, don’t rely on price comparison sites for reasons mentioned above. Car hire is cheaper before the July-August period. Also think about how much use you will get out of a car. If you’re going for 2 weeks, perhaps you will only use it for a week in the middle and you can rent it locally rather than from the airport. Some smaller independent companies near where you’re staying may offer better deals than big names like Europcar.
9. Eat like locals
Eating out can be expensive, so if you’ve got cooking facilities do a big shop and cook meals for most nights. If you feel like going out try places that are less touristy as these will be mostly frequented by locals and will most likely be cheaper. In Turkey some of the best places we ate out were the small restaurants on the sides of roads.
10. Outsource deals
Sites like Groupon, Wowcher etc can be great ways to snag deals for holidays and save you the hassle of booking flights and accommodation separately. These are often cheaper in low season and require you to be flexible with dates so bear that in mind.
Another great one is the Sun Holidays. These run a few times throughout the year and range from £9.50pp to £15pp (with higher prices for upgrades). Please note that you do have to pay for a minimum of 4 people even if only 2 of you are going.
The Sun Holidays often parks across Europe and in fact me and my partner not long came back from one. We booked through Sun to go to Lake Garda and stayed at Bella Italia Camping park. We got a basic 2 bedroom static home and we loved it. It cost around £130 for the week for the both of us which is about the price you pay per night for some hotel rooms! We like having our own cooking facilities and it gives us more freedom and we can save money this way. Well worth checking out!
So there you have it! To show you how these tips work I’ve done a small case study here on a hypothetical 2 week self-catered trip to the Algarve, Portugal in July. Now I’ve already included snippets in the above article to demonstrate cheap flights to Faro on these dates so I will continue with that price:
London Luton to Faro return flights 4/7/17 – 18/7/17 : £99 with Easyjet
- Air b’n’b: apartments around £750 for the fortnight
- OwnersDirect: here is an apartment available on the dates, but booked up later. The price is around £760 which could be potentially haggled down
- HolidayLettings: here is an apartment priced at about £800 around 5km from the beach, again prices could be negotiated as the are booked up after available dates
- HomeAway: I found a couple of great cheap options on this site which could potentially be negotiated such as this one and this one.
Weighing up these options I think it’s fair to say that we could get somewhere for around £600-£700.
Car hire: I found from Autoeurope at £189 for the fortnight & for fuel let’s budget £100 as that would be around 2-2.5 tanks in the UK.
Food: I would potentially budget £250 for food for two people for a fortnight
I won’t include travel insurance as this can vary wildly and can be less than £10 for more basic cover.
So for flights, accommodation, car, fuel & food we’re looking at around (this figure was a combination of very rounded figures from above): £1250 for two people
Now, I used sites that would deliver me package deals to the Algarve the same dates to compare the prices and this is what I found:
- Thomson: The cheapest deal was a fortnight from 30/6/17 flying from Manchester and includes breakfast. This comes in at £530pp. Then once we add on food (I’ll reduce this slightly as breakfast is included) and car hire we’re looking at £1550 for two people roughly.
I didn’t actually find a deal that would work out cheaper! Just goes to show that sometimes taking the extra time to source each part of your holiday separately can pay off!
Let me know if you use any of these tips to save you money! Have you got any others, share in the comments below!
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