This year the costs of almost everything have risen… including holidays. Before the lockdown, it was a lot easier to find bargain holiday deals and discounted flight offers. But now with the prices of everything going up, airlines and travel companies have had to raise their prices to make up for profits they lost during the pandemic.
Even though prices might have risen, that doesn’t mean it’s impossible to find good deals. Our in-house ‘travel expert’, Monika Rok (better known to many of you as our Membership Experience Officer), has put together a list of her best tips and tricks for saving money while planning, booking and going on your holidays.
Booking your holiday
Be flexible with the dates
Monika says, “choosing when and where to go away plays a big part in how much your trip will cost. It’s usually a good idea to give yourself a set of dates that you’re looking to go abroad and be flexible with the dates around it. If you can, being flexible with an entire month is the best option. Comparison sites and airline websites can tell you the cheapest options and destinations for that month.
Setting specific dates to travel or only wanting to go to one specific place will restrict your options and you might end up missing out on cheaper deals.”
When should I book?
According to Monika, there are two extremes when it comes to finding and booking the best holiday deals:
- Book your holidays well in advance. “School holidays are the most popular time of year for people, families, in particular, to travel. If you’re considering a holiday at these times of the year, it’s best to book the trip months in advance. Flights and hotels will be in high demand, meaning prices will go up. The same goes for bank holidays. Travel companies know that these are popular times to travel and will raise prices to reflect this.”
- Book a last-minute deal. “Alternatively, booking a holiday last minute or a couple of days before you plan to go can sometimes be the cheapest option. Airlines, hotels and holiday websites will often sell their bookings for cheaper prices close to the date of departure to make sure that rooms and flights are filled.”
What’s the best time to travel?
We’ve established that going away during the school holidays is the most expensive time to go abroad… so best avoided. According to Tripadvisor, you’ll spend 23% less on travel if you go away after the early summer rush. So if you want to get away during the summer, we’d suggest going before the last week of July and after the last week of August.
When booking flights, Monika suggests, “make the most of your money and time by travelling early in the morning or late at night. When flying to your destination, aim to get there as early as possible so you can check in quickly and start relaxing. On the day you fly back, get an evening flight so that you still have a full day of holiday before you have to leave. Seems like common sense, but by doing this you’ll give yourself two extra full days rather than days cut short by travelling.”
Where to book
Gone are the days of travel agents finding the best deals for you. Everything you need in order to find the cheapest offers is now at your fingertips. Monika suggests using a comparison site to find the cheapest flights and hotels for the dates you’re away. Some sites to look at are:
- Skyscanner is best known for finding the cheapest flights. Can also be used for hotels and car rentals.
- Kayak is also used for finding cheap flights, hotels and cars. You can also compare the cheapest ferries, trains, busses, insurance and things to do.
- Booking.com is used mainly for finding the cheapest price for hotels and accommodation.
- Hotels.com offers… you guessed it, hotels! They also offer reward and discount schemes when you book through them regularly.
- Trip.com is partnered with multiple airlines and finds you their cheapest and most popular deals.
Extra tip: if you find a good price for a hotel online, try calling or emailing the hotel directly and tell them the deal you’ve found. They may be able to offer you an even cheaper price.
If you don’t have time or simply don’t want to scroll through comparison sites, a package holiday might be the best option, Monika suggests. Budget package holiday sites like On The Beach and lastminute.com, offer deals which include flights and accommodation for as little as £100. These deals may not always be the most luxurious, but they cut out the work of searching for hotels in your budget and flight dates to match.
Most package holidays come with ATOL or ABTA protection, meaning you are covered and should get your money back if anything goes wrong.
Travel money & insurance
It might seem easier or cheaper to not bother with travel insurance… but this could end up costing you thousands. If you end up needing medical care abroad, breaking a valuable item or losing your luggage – you’ll need to spend a lot to cover the costs. Travel insurance usually costs less than £20 and will keep you covered if anything was to go wrong.
- Check with your bank if you have travel insurance included with your account
- Use a comparison site to find the cheapest option
- Consider what type of cover you need. If you’re a regular flyer it might be a good idea to get cover for a year instead of a single trip
It’s easier than ever to spend money abroad now. We’re no longer restricted to carrying around foreign currency that we don’t recognise, and guessing how much the exchange rate is on each payment…
- Make sure your bank allows you to use your card abord with no extra fees or costs. You’ll also be sent a notification for every transaction, telling you how much you’ve spent in the foreign currency as well as in pounds. With our Commodo and Forces Finance cards, 30 days of overseas transactions per year are free of charge.
- If you decide to exchange some cash, don’t do it in the UK! You’ll usually get the best rates when you reach your destination
- When you come home, make sure you use up any coins you have in the airport or before you leave. You can’t exchange foreign coins back into pounds.
Money Gym Masterclass: Spreading the costs of summer
Watch our most recent money masterclass where we discussed in more detail ways to save money during the summer and on your holidays.Watch the recording