Financial expert Sarah Willingham has tips on how to save when you’re planning your holiday this summer.
Top tips for travellling abroad
- If you’re travelling aboard look at the exchange rate to get the most out of your pounds
- If you’ve left it this late then the cheapest holidays will be booked last minute
- Look at local prices – Portugal is the cheapest place to holiday this summer
- Always compare a package option with doing it yourself
- Secret hotels on lastminute.com CAN be a great option and you can always find out where they are by Googling them
- Compare driving options for larger families
- Park for cheap – parkatmyhouse.com is a great website with lots of reviews and nearly all parking is with free transfers to the airport. Always book before and compare prices with companies such as Skypark. Don’t discount valet parking – it’s often similarly priced and the convenience is wonderful! Always ask yourself if you NEED to park. Can you get a lift? Bus? Taxi? Compare the prices
- Check out transfer prices at resorthoppa.com for the other end
- Get the best exchange rate – post office and Travelex are usually good
- Use travel guides like Lonely Planet, Rough Guide etc for cheap places to eat when you’re there. Where do the locals go? Follow them!
- Travel insurance – avoid expensive travel agents' one-off insurance. Check your credit card doesn’t already cover you
- Car hire – avoid booking in the airport – shop around online before you go
If you want to travel during school holidays for a standard seven nights, 10 nights or 14 nights to a popular destination then you're likely to find your cheapest option is a package holiday. Your operators bulk buy hotel rooms and charter planes – so if they’re not full then they have to fill them!
How to get the cheapest package holidays
1. Start online if you can. Look at sites such as www.teletextholidays.co.uk. You search by dates and destination or type of holiday such as exotic. They will then show you all of the agents who have deals in your selection. You will see an offer that you like and this website will then list all of the agencies who can offer the same hotel. It’s brilliant!
2. Let the negotiation begin!
3. Call the first agency and get as much information as you can - flight details, tour operator, name of hotel if possible. Get their best price...
4. Then phone around and keep phoning. Ask them all (VERY NICELY) if they can beat their first offer
5. Check with the tour operator directly – in theory they should be able to give you the best offer! Keep asking nicely if they can do any better
6. Finally settle on your best price and book
If you want to go somewhere a bit different, out of season and for an unusual number of days then it’s likely to be cheaper to put together the holiday yourself.
1. The ultimate way to find a bargain is to not care where or when you go and literally just search the budget airlines for the cheapest deals
2. Use websites such as Travelocity, Expedia, Skyscanner who will search the market for you and find you the cheapest flight. I always think it’s worth double checking with thomsonfly, ryanair and easyjet directly.
3. Travel during unsociable hours and outside of school holidays if you can. This will give you the best bargains
4. Beware of those hideous hidden extras
a. Unless you have a Visa Electron card most airlines will charge you for actually PAYING – this can add up if you’re a big family like mine so factor it into the final cost
b. You’ll be charged for taking LUGGAGE! This really mounts up. Easyjet is £30 per suitcase and then £10 for every kilo you are overweight. So use your scales and get this right!
c. Always check in online and don’t forget your boarding pass. Ryanair will charge you a small fortune if you forget to take your boarding pass with you
d. Don’t buy food on the plane. Just as petrol stations make all their money from you buying that ridiculously expensive bottle of water and small packet of Pringles SO DO THE BUDGET AIRLINES. Take your own or if you plan not to then factor this cost in when you look at other airline prices.
e. Don’t fall for the insurance offer. You can usually get it alot cheaper elsewhere. If you plan to travel more than once in a year an annual policy is usually much better.
5. Use your credit card to get a free flight – there are loads of credit cards who offer point systems that can be converted to flights. We have the Amex BA card that not only gives us points but also a buy one get one free every year. But make sure you pay off your credit card every month or the savings won’t be worth it.
1. I LOVE the secret hotels that lastminute.com and hotwire.com do. I read the blurb then put it into google to find out which hotel it is and then call them direct AND search websites such as expedia, booking.com. more often than not the secret hotel is the cheapest way of booking it but NOT ALWAYS!! Last month i found the same hotel cheaper going direct – so try all 3 routes. Worth the 5 minutes of effort.
2. Always check with trip advisor and read the latest reviews
3. You can nearly ALWAYS haggle for a better price on your hotel. I never pay book value. Once you’ve searched the internet for the best price then call them and ask them NICELY if they can beat it.
4. Look at other options for accommodation – contact the local tourist information for good local offers on accommodation. They’ll have information on B&Bs, campsites, caravans and holiday lets in villas, apartments and houses.
5. Last year we spent two weeks in the south of France. The prices on ownersdirect.co.uk were way more expensive than calling people locally. I called the tourist information who gave me the details of three holiday lettings companies in the area, I called each one, they sent me information and I booked directly with them.
I’m doing a house swap this year through an international website! The ultimate way to get a cheap holiday! I’ll be sure to report back on the experience but so far.... so good!
Top deals for Thursday 14th July
BARGAIN TRAVELODGE IN THE UK
- Sale starts: 6am Thur 14 July 2011
- Dates you can stay: 1 Sept - 30 Dec 2011, incl Xmas Day
- Cheap rooms available: 60,000 rooms at £10, 90,000 rooms at £15 and 100,000 at £19.
- Typical non-sale room price: £29-£75
- Number of Travelodges taking part: 470 hotels
BOOK YOUR OWN HOLIDAY TRANSFERS
- 15% off transfer bookings at ResortHoppa.com.
Enter voucher code – VCCOUK at the checkout
The cheapest agencies on Sarah's package holiday challenge
£30 off a booking for a family holiday, expires Sunday 31st July 2011 – voucher code 30FAMILY
£20 off a booking for a holiday, expires Sunday 31st July 2011 – voucher code JULY20WG. Enter code at the checkout