If you want to get away from it all for a while and take a well-deserved holiday or short break but are concerned how you will afford it, look no further. Here we have some simple tips on how to have a lovely holiday that doesn’t cost a fortune.
There’s no point working hard all year and then having an over the top holiday that you will spend the following year paying for.
When looking at a holiday destination, be as flexible as possible. If you aren’t travelling with school aged children avoid the school holidays – everyone knows these are the most expensive weeks to get away, and your holiday destination is likely to be crowded.
If you are travelling with children, then there are special deals available if you book early or select certain destinations.
Throughout the main holiday season of July and August, more commonly known as peak season, there are busier weeks that work out more expensive than others so do your research to find the best possible price.
Many schools will fine you if you take your children out of school during term time for a holiday. You should always consider you child’s education, but if you have to go during term time, try to choose a week when it is most acceptable for the child to be absent, weighting up the fine imposed against the saving you make on the holiday.
Another money saving tip is to look at the days of the week you want to travel, most people travel weekend to weekend but look at going mid-week to see if there is any reduction in price.
The next thing to do is to decide on your destination. Do you want to stay in this country or travel further afield to Europe or beyond? Most people think that staying in the UK will be cheaper than going abroad but this is not always the case. Whilst the UK has loads to offer from beautiful scenic coastal locations, fabulous holiday parks including Butlins and Pontins for which we have Butlins discount codes coming soon, and Haven promotional codes, and a number of great B&B’s or guest houses, the only thing not guaranteed is the weather!
So if good weather is important you should look at going abroad. Look around to see where the best deals are as sometimes a week or 2 in Spain can work out a lot cheaper than a week in the UK!
If you are travelling without children look at companies like Warner Leisure Hotels who offer superb adult only breaks in fabulous locations across the UK. If you want a break that includes travel then take a look at Shearings Holidays. They specialise in coach breaks and offer trips to Europe by air, sea and coach.
With so many ways of booking your trip it’s advisable to look around to get the best deal. A few years ago booking your hotel and flights separately was the best way to make a saving but tour operators have recognised this and now offer very good package deals.
If you decide to book everything separately then be careful of hidden extras as some low cost airlines such as Ryanair and Easyjet offer fantastic deals for flights, some starting from £1, but there are few seats available at this rate, and once you’ve added the airport taxes, booking and administration fees, luggage, and the cost of having your board pass printed at the airport, you could be paying full price for your seat!
Be careful with the amount of luggage you plan to take, as most airlines are really clamping down on individual allowances and bag weights.
Make sure you weigh your bags before you leave home as the charges for excess baggage are very expensive. Most low cost airlines are also specific as to the dimension of hand luggage. Any oversized items will be put in the hold and you will be charged for these additional items. For example, Easyjet consider a ladies handbag or laptop case as hand luggage – you will no longer be able to take an additional item of hand luggage into the cabin with you!
Most airlines offer additional extras such as access to airport lounges and quick check in’s etc. These prices might look tempting but are usually only available one way and will all add to the overall expense of the holiday.
Unless you are on a scheduled flight, charter airlines charge for drinks and food on-board. If your flight is only a couple of hours long do you really need to pay extra to have a meal during your flight? Airlines charge a fortune for drinks and snacks so checkout what you are allowed to take on-board and maybe take your own on board with you.
When booking you also need to find out if transfers to/from your hotel are included with your package. Airport taxis are readily available but there is likely to be a long queue and they won’t come cheap.
Most city airports have airport transfers that you can book in advance so you know how much to pay and know someone will be there to meet you. If you are on a package holiday, airport transfers are usually an additional extra and you will travel on a coach with people from your flight to the hotels in your destination area.
If you are looking at renting a car then again, do your research and book before you travel to avoid any disappointment or additional expense. The cost of car hire in Spain has doubled over the past couple of years. I know of someone who was looking to book the same vehicle as last year when they paid approx. £500 and this year the cost was to be over £1000!
Research the best deals but stick to reputable car hire companies located at the airports, many of which you can book in advance onlne – and there are some horror stories where travellers have been separated and driven to remote locations to collect the hire car.
If you are looking to hire car seats for children then always use a reputable company. The first year we hired a car, the children’s seats looked very unsafe despite the company saying they were fine and legal.
Luckily everything was fine but the following year we paid a little extra to go with a more renowned company to ensure we had safer car seats.
Another point to consider is to look at how much an airline will charge for you to take your own car seats, some only charge £10 which is less than you would pay to hire one with your car.
When looking at booking your holiday check out what meal options are available. You may think you are getting good value on a room only or self-catering basis, but consider how much you will need to spend on food.
Most hotels offer different packages, some costing as little £10 per day for all 3 meals (full board). Take into account the exchange rate and your location as it could work out to be more cost effective to prepay your meals rather than paying once you have arrived.
Opting for “full board” or “all inclusive” might seem restrictive, it means you will prepay for all your meals and inclusive drinks, so there is no need to worry how much extra cash you will need to take.
Most hotels or complexes will offer entertainment during the day and evening, which is included in the price of your package. Kids clubs vary – some are fully inclusive, while others are paid on a day rate. This is a more flexible option as it means you can have a day out as a family, doing other things.
Kids clubs are a fantastic way for your children to have fun with others their own age, making your holiday a bit more relaxing, and most hotels let you book the child places before you travel.
If you are travelling abroad, check out the exchange rates offered by banks, the Post Office and companies like Travelex, as they vary a great deal.
Comparison sites are available to make sure you are getting the best deal. Don’t rely on getting your holiday money at the airport as it can be more expensive, unless you pre-book you cash online with a company such as Travelex, and collect it before you board the flight.
Make sure you do your research and order in advance to make ensure there isn’t a last minute panic to get the local currency.
Some people think holiday insurance is a waste of money but it’s one of those things that you really need to be sure about. Personally, I would never travel without insurance as you never know when something might happen.
Look round to find the best cover. Some companies offer single trip insurance, but if you are likely to travel more than once in any one year, then ask what flexibility is available on an annual policy. Some policies cover only certain geographic areas, which can also keep the cost down.
If the worst does happen and you find yourself needing medical help it can cost an absolute fortune especially if you need to be admitted to hospital or flown home.
If you are travelling to one of the countries within the EU you can now obtain an EHIC card which replaces the old E111 cards. These offer you the basic level of medical health care. You need to apply for the card in advance of travelling – it usually takes about three weeks to receive, but will take considerably longer in peak holiday periods so apply in good time. You can order your EHIP online, at the Post Office or by phone. Make sure you read the small print so you know what is included.
Just using one or two of these pieces of advice will save you money and help you have an enjoyable holiday!
Written by: Helen Willment