Tuesday 23rd July 2024

How to save on your holiday

Spring is here and there are many Bank Holidays on the horizon. Plus, summer isn’t THAT far away. Many people are turning their thoughts to holidays and city-breaks, which may already be in the diary. Or perhaps booking a holiday is on your to-do list.

Either way, you’ll want to know how to get value for money this year. 

Here’s how – and there’s tips here that will help save you money even if you’ve already booked.

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Bag cheap flights

There’s lots of good ways to find cheap airline tickets, such as avoiding weekend travel and flying at unsociable hours. Few people really want to get the 5am Easyjet to Malaga (check-in opens at 3am – yawn) so it’s usually at a bargain basement price.

Using a price comparison website like Sky Scanner or Expedia will make it easy to see the cheapest routes to where you want to go.

Make sure you delete browser history as prices can increase based on the number of times you revisit a particular website to re-check fares.

If wading through lists of flights, dates and times sounds like too much hard work, there’s a website you should know about. Jack’s Flight Club (jacksflightclub.co.uk) scans airlines and price comparison websites for the best discounts, hidden offers and even error fares. By signing up to the free newsletter you receive notification of the best deals around. Perfect if you’re flexible about where you travel.

Jack once found a return flight from London to New York for £99. What’s not to like?

Be creative for cheaper – or free – accommodation

There is a way to stay in homes all around the world for free – you just need to be a pet lover. Using trustedhousesitters.com you can get in touch with families all over the world who want someone to stay in their home and care for pets while they go on holiday.

If you’re not a pet lover, but you own your own home, another way to get free accommodation is to take part in a house swapping scheme. This is where you promote your own home with a description and pictures and, once you see a potential home you would like to stay in, you can message them to offer a swap.

There lots of other membership-based websites which allow you to arrange swaps for homes around the world, of any size, such as lovehomeswap.com, homelink.org.ukhomeexchange.com.

You will need to find dates that suit both swappers and be comfortable with strangers in your home.

If you don’t fancy strangers in your home, website Airbnb is a tried and tested favourite for avoiding pricey hotels. And if you can find a place that has very few bookings, you might be able to haggle on the price by contacting the owner and stating what you’re prepared to pay. It is likely that they would rather have something rather than nothing.

You can also ask for a discount if there are, say, three bedrooms and just two of you as you won’t be using part of the property and their cleaning bills will be reduced.

If you can bear to wing it while you’re away – rather have your accommodation booked – try the app or website hoteltonight.com. When hotels have unsold rooms, they load them on the app. The discounts are impressive.

Choose your destination carefully

Sunny Beach in Bulgaria has been named the cheapest place to visit by the Post Office this month. The Algarve is cheapest in the Eurozone – less than half the price in Sorrento.

And across the board there’s good news – the study reckons that prices have dropped year-on-year in three-quarters of resorts, with the biggest fall of over 20% in Limassol, Cyprus.

Spend wisely while you’re away

Offset higher costs when you’re away with occasional meals in and making a packed lunch. Don’t shop at resort shops – find out where the nearest supermarket is and do a shop with planned meals. Even if you need to pay a taxi to take you there and back it will be cheaper in the long run. And don’t open the mini bar in your hotel room.

Organise your finances with a credit card designed for overseas usage to avoid big bank charges on spending while you’re away. Alternatively, pre-paid currency cards are great money-savers when it comes to overseas charges. You can top these up using an app from your UK bank account as necessary. Find the best one for you at a comparison website such as www.moneysupermarket.com/prepaid-cards/. Make sure you read all about any charges.

When paying with any kind of plastic abroad, always select the local currency on the payment machine. While it’s tempting to select an amount in pounds when it’s offered, it will have been converted using an uncompetitive rate so will cost you more. Resist!

Crave first class treatment when travelling?

If you would love to join business and first class passengers, but can’t afford the cost of a ticket outside economy, there’s a way to be pampered on your travels- on the ground, at least.

The company no1lounges.com will give you the first class treatment such as lounge access before you fly and fast track through security. You can even organise a concierge service to meet you at the airport and even spa treatments before you fly.  

They have lounges at Heathrow, Gatwick, Birmingham and Edinburgh.

Lounge access starts at £24 which includes food from the self-service selection, plus one dish from the made-to-order menu.  All drinks are included in the entry fee (excluding Champagne which can be purchased for £6), plus newspapers, magazines and WiFi.

So you can saunter through the crowds at the airport into a lounge without a care in the world.

Plus if you think about it, you’d probably easily spend over £20 by the time you buy yourself an overpriced coffee, baguette and sweet treat to see you through the long journey. And definitely if you opt for an alcoholic drink and hot meal.

Even better, if you have a Tastecard (the discount card for restaurants) you get 25% off lounge access for you and up to 7 guests. Bargain.

For cut-price first class train travel in the UK, the app Seatfrog allows travellers to bid on empty seats in first and business class on LNER only…so far. Watch this space for more services soon.

If your train has Seatfrog space, two-and-a-half hours before departure you are invited to participate in an online auction. 

Seatfrog is one to watch because it’s also planning to launch on airlines. Now that could be very interesting.

Happy travels.

Holly Thomas

Holly Thomas is an award-winning financial journalist and former Deputy Personal Finance Editor at The Sunday Times. She writes across all areas of personal finance and consumer issues, specialising in investments, mortgages and property. Previously she worked at the Daily Express and Sunday Express as Money editor and also at Financial Times Business. Holly was voted Freelance Journalist of the Year at the HeadlineMoney Awards in 2016. Her work can be seen in national press including The Times, The Daily Telegraph and the Daily Mail.

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