Chelsea Dickenson's best holiday deals!
New research revealed that despite the cost of living crisis, people are so keen to have a holiday this year that they’re cutting back on takeaways, meals out and new clothes in order to afford a bit of sunshine. So, holidays expert Chelsea Dickenson is here with her tried-and-tested hacks for getting the best holiday deal.
Tips before you book:
Find your accommodation first - don't let cheap flights distract you, £40 more on a flight will be well worth it if your accommodation is £300 cheaper for that period.
Be flexible on your dates and destination
The cheapest flights are midweek and early in the morning or late at night
Use data to find out if you've got a good price - Kayak, Google Flights and apps like Hopper will compile all the data to tell you whether you're getting a good price for the flight you're searching for. Kayak and Hopper will even advise you on whether you should book now, or wait a while longer!
Don't worry too much about incognito mode - There's very little evidence to show that browsing in 'private mode' will give you a cheaper fare.
Hotel only bookings:
Stay Saturday to Monday - make the most of cheap Sunday hotel prices.
Find the cheapest night for your bucket list hotel - Google Hotels will show you the nightly cost for most hotels in their calendar view.
Use Pruvo to book your hotel booking - If you've booked a room with free cancellation, Pruvo will track your booking for you and email you if the price dips. That way you can rebook for a cheaper price!
Ask for an upgrade - Email ahead and be kind, polite and tell them exactly what you want. If it's a special occasion, mention it.
Long haul flights
Check for flights with a layover
Sign up to free cheap flight newsletters - Jack's Flight Club and Secret Flying alert you when there's an unreal deal to be had. Recently, there were business class flights to North America for £500!
Check to see if you have any airline miles - There are supermarkets that allow you to convert your reward points into airline miles. With Tesco, you can turn every Clubcard point into 2.5 Virgin Points, so £1.50 in Clubcard vouchers will get you 375 Virgin Points. With Nectar (Sainsburys), every 400 Nectar points converted is 250 Avios, and every 300 Avios is 400 Nectar points.
Earn miles from credit card spending
Try and get a free upgrade! I asked my followers about what has worked for them and the list included: If you know anyone that works for the airline, let them know you're travelling; If it's a special occasion like a birthday or your wedding, let the airline know; Be the first or very last to check-in; Travel solo; Bring treats for the crew; Be kind!
Short haul flights
Know your baggage policies - some airlines allow you to bring a small carry-on suitcase and a small personal item, some only allow a small suitcase, and others only allow 1 small personal item.
Need a little extra luggage? Try a viral packing hack! - Be it stuffing pants into your neck pillow, using a duty free bag or packing extra clothes into a too big bra, there's plenty of cheeky hacks to up the amount of hand luggage you have. My top tip is to wear anything extra on your body - this will mean it won't affect your weight restrictions!
The airline's package deals aren't always good value.
Check business class - Once I was flying home from Rome in half term and the economy fares were £185 each. I checked business class for a laugh and they were... £150! Business class often includes 2 checked bags and so if you are checking in lots of luggage, it can sometimes work out cost effective that way too.
Leave the destination search box blank - Try typing in 'England' or 'United Kingdom' and instead use the filters to find what works for your budget. My favourite is to find cheap places with a seaview and a hot tub - it can be done!
Get your haggle on! - Did you know that you can haggle on Airbnb? I've done it several times and it's a great way to bring the cost down. It works best if you're staying for over 5 days or you're booking really last minute.
Use deal sites - Travelzoo and Secret Escapes negotiate cheaper rates and so there's some amazing value stays on there. 'I found a 2 night stay at this gorgeous hotel on Travelzoo where you got a room upgrade and breakfast and it was £209 instead of £458'.
Don't say no to hostels - Hostels have had a real revamp in recent years - with plenty of boutique options to choose between! These are great for families where you can book private rooms for cheaper than a hotel room for 2.