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Cheap holidays - How to save money when booking a holiday abroad or in the UK.

Updated on February 20, 2014

Getting away for half the cost

Holidays can be expensive, here's some handy tips to help you get away for less...

Over a quarter of all holiday makers are now booking their holidays online, due to the convenience , choice and potential to save money in many cases upwards of 25%, The advantages of booking holidays online are that you can get compare prices, get cheaper deals, see pictures of your destination, research the area, even find YouTube videos so that you can see the destination. as well as booking online at much lower prices than if you had used a travel agency.

The most important thing to do when booking your holiday is to find the cheapest price online then start calling round travel agents to try and beat it, you can save a further 5-10% doing this, which can be a considerable amount when paying hundreds if not thousands of pounds for your holiday.

As a rough rule of thumb, package holidays are usually cheapest for seven to 14 days away in a traditional holiday destination.

Timing is crucial

If you are free to travel at any time of the year, Take a holiday when others can't, such as before school holidays in May and June to family destinations like Florida, and you'll get a better price; . During the low and mid season periods, you can save up to 50% on both hotels and flights.

The later you book, the cheaper, but this means limited choice. Tour operators have chartered the planes and reserved the rooms, and, if they don't shift them, they lose money. The later you leave it, the more desperate they are to get rid of the empty rooms, so the price drops further.

Timing your holiday correctly will save you more...

If you can't book late, book as early as possible... If you take Thomson and Thomas cook for instance, all their free child places get released in May. So if you can get your deposit ready and get there when the next years holidays are released you have more chance of A, getting your local airport with B, a free child place, you also get a better choice of time and location. I book my holiday with Thomson every May for the following may (usually mid May) when the season is just starting so it's not packed but it's still in full swing, all the reps are fresh and full of the joys and I get an entire year to pay for my family holiday. I had two weeks all inclusive to a fabulous resort in Tunisia for £1250 last year (family of 4) now that's a bargain!!!

But not to worry if you're not looking for a family holiday as they also offer £100 per couple discounts or buy-one-get-one-free weeks when buying in advance.

Some of the cheapest holiday providers online...

  • Groupon If you're looking for a UK break in a hotel then it has to be said that Groupon is one of the cheapest you're going to find. Just look at the city you fancy and see what hotel breaks you can find. Booking through Groupon usually not only saves you money on the price of the hotel but they have added extras thrown in such as breakfast, lunch or tea, often there is wine on arrival too.
  • Icelolly.com Icelolly.com seems to be the cheapest place around for your international holidays. They have a great filter system you can search from low-high and if you're a couple who don't mind where you fly from or where you go you can get some extremely good all inclusive deals. Some were available at around £300 a couple for 7 days AI.
  • Teletext holidays This old school option is still around and actually offers a really broad variety of holiday deals still. It's always worth a check.

Top tips for your holiday!

  • If you are renting a car then enquire if there is free parking in your hotel. Some hotels do not have any car-parking facilities and others ask for a parking fee. This is particularly important if you are on a tight budget.
  • Make sure the Travel agency your booking with is an ATOL protected company
  • Don't book excursions through your tour operator avoid booking activities through through your holiday rep, as guests are a captive market, so mark-ups can be massive. Venture elsewhere, Try locally, and prices are usually more competitive.
  • Call in to a few different Travel agents and ask if they can beat the quote you have. Tell them you've been quoted a holiday price, give them the full details and ask if they can beat the price. Try to negotiate in price per person, not total cost.
  • If you're going abroad, the real cost is when you get there.Eating out is likely to be a big hit, so either consider full-board or all-inclusive. Alternatively, self-cater, and pop to the local supermarket.


Before leaving for your holiday :

  • Allow plenty of time to get the relevant visa.
  • Ensure you have adequate holiday insurance policy cover for your destination that covers money, medical and activities.
  • Read up about your destinations before leaving so you can enjoy yourself straight away on arrival, i.e. maps etc.
  • Get vaccinations if necessary before leaving.
  • Don't buy loads of new clothes - be ruthless when packing - most people can manage with half what they take with them.
  • Take an extra carrying bag - it can be used as a day bag and to bring back a few souvenirs.
  • Keep your passport in your hand luggage with your tickets.
  • Try and memorise your passport number in case you lose it!
  • Write down addresses of friends and family, you may want to send postcards to, in a small address book.
  • Arrange for diabetic/vegetarian/vegan meals for your flight with your travel agent.
  • Remove any past destination tags to avoid confusion .
  • On the day of your flight call the airport to check that your flight is on time.
  • Find out how many 'carry on bags' your airline allows - luggage 20"x15"x10" is average
  • Purchase some water purification tablets if you are planning a stop over in a country with suspect water sources.
  • Plan a rough itinerary of where you would like to go.
  • Pack essentials such as a toothbrush, clean underwear and money in hand luggage, in case your check in bags get lost


During your journey :

  • Reduce the pain of popping ears; suck a sweet, swallow hard or gently blow your nose.
  • Try to drink plenty of water to avoid becoming dehydrated the cabins are highly pressurised air is very dry.
  • Ask cabin crew if you can move to a row of unoccupied seats so you can travel in style where available.
  • Minimise jet lag by adjusting your watch to your destinations local time.
  • Walk around a little on the plane if possible to help circulation and make the most of any refuel stops for a good stretch.

On arrival to your destination :

  • Try to be as alert as you can; weary travelers make easy prey for pickpockets & thieves.
  • Avoid making long distance calls from your hotel room; it's likely to attract a huge fee.
  • Make sure any taxi you get into is legitimate to avoid any shady goings on
  • When hiring a car, ensure you have appropriate insurance to cover, carefully check it for dents, scratches etc and insist the rental company makes a written note to confirm.
  • Never let anyone you don't know look after your bag - they may steal or put something in there.
  • Ensure that you use sunscreen, wear shades and lip protection at all times especially on your children.
  • Check for hazardous currents/ tides or dangerous marine life before swimming/surfing etc.

Warnings!

Check it's a genuine package, brokers sell two types of trip.

First there's the traditional package, where flights, transfers and hotels are all booked with one tour operator, eg, Thomson or Thomas cook.

Then there are holidays which the agent puts together, with separate flights (often Ryanair or Easyjet), hotels and transfers. Giveaway words are 'dynamic', 'tailormade' and 'pyramid' hols. While agents call these packages, often they aren't. Not all dynamic packages are ATOL protected, ie, if your airline goes bust, you could get stranded.

From April 2012, ATOL protection was extended to include flights and accommodation or car hire booked from the same company within a day of each other, even if they're not part of a formal package.

When do you book your holidays?

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