Make your holiday budget stretch further with our handy guide
Planning a holiday requires plenty of cunning to keep a lid on spending. With that in mind, here is our guide to making sure you don’t end up paying too much…
BUY PLANE TICKETS EARLY
Pick up the cheapest fares by being quick off the mark. Airlines usually release tickets around a year before departure, but some carriers such as Ryanair and easyJet have shorter pre-sale periods.
BEST DAY TO TRAVEL
Airfares are at their cheapest for flights to Europe on Tuesdays, according to the travel comparison site travelsupermarket.com. Many business travellers prefer to fly on Mondays and return on Fridays, so the cheapest weekend mini-breaks can often be Thursday to Tuesday.
TRANSATLANTIC FOR LESS
Budget airlines such as Norse and Play have made fares to the U.S more competitive
Fares for U.S. flights are rather competitive, especially to New York (from around £300 return), thanks to new budget airlines such as Norse (flynorse.com) and Play (flyplay.com). There’s JetBlue (jetblue.com), BA (britishairways.com) and Virgin Atlantic (virginatlantic.com), too.
It’s best to book Eurostar tickets as soon as they are available. Most are released 180 days before departure at eurostar.com.
Sterling is doing well year-on-year with the Turkish lira (up 23 per cent), Egyptian pound (30 per cent), Swedish krona (4 per cent), Japanese yen (4 per cent) and Hungarian forint (3 per cent). See changes at xe.com. And never buy foreign currency at the airport.
GET MORE MONEY ADVICE
Each year Post Office Travel Money releases a report on costs at overseas resorts. Marmaris in Turkey came out cheapest most recently, followed by Sunny Beach in Bulgaria, the Algarve in Portugal and Cape Town in South Africa.
JOIN A TOUR
Signing up for an escorted tour can cost 25 per cent less than going DIY, as operators get discounts on accommodation, attractions and guides. Check the latest deals at group specialists newmarketholidays.co.uk, titantravel.co.uk and travel.saga.co.uk.
TRY A TRAVEL AGENT
High-street travel agents can sometimes offer cheaper deals
Travel agents rarely get a look-in these days. But see if a High Street agent such as barrheadtravel.co.uk, trailfinders.com, flightcentre.co.uk and haystravel.co.uk can do it cheaper. You may be surprised…
November and January are the best for bargain hunters. ‘Big discounts are on offer,’ says Brian Young, managing director of G Adventures (gadventures.com).
AVOID THE SUMMER
Go during ‘shoulder months’ and steer clear of June to August. May and September are the best for sun and low prices.
BOOK HOTELS DIRECT
If you are brave enough to wait until the last minute, many tour operators offer deals of as much as 60 per cent off the original cost — and 20 to 30 per cent in the weeks before departure
STAY ON A SUNDAY
If you’re after a couple of days away in the UK, try staying on a Sunday night, when rates can be as much as 50 per cent off.
SIGN UP FOR DEALS
Free membership-based websites have sprung up, offering flash sales on package holidays to the Med, and hotel stays that need to be filled. See travelzoo.com, secretescapes.com, holidaypirates.com and voyage-prive.co.uk.
If you are brave enough to wait until the last minute, many tour operators offer deals of as much as 60 per cent off the original cost — and 20 to 30 per cent in the weeks before departure. TUI (tui.co.uk) is great for this.
GREAT CITY RATES
Cities that are popular for business travel, such as Milan, Frankfurt, Munich and Luxembourg City, often have cheaper hotel rates at weekends. Many European cities also offer ‘city cards’, with discounts on attractions and transport, to be bought in advance. Lisbon has 24-hour cards costing from £17.45 (shop.visitlisboa.com).
HOLIDAY HOME DISCOUNTS
CHEAP EUROPEAN TRAINS
Avoid high-speed trains when on a Europe rail adventure and opt for cheaper regional services, especially on Wednesdays or Sundays. See fredholidays.co.uk, seat61.com, thetrainline.com and raileurope.com.
Save on your heating bill by disappearing somewhere sunny for a month or longer. You can only stay in the EU for a maximum of 90 days during any 180-day period. Jet2holidays.com offers 55 nights at the Ourapraia Hotel Apartments in the Algarve from £1,612 pp, with Stansted flights on February 10.
FIND MORE TIPS ONLINE
Check out our budget city guides for short-haul destinations with rooms for less than £100 a night at dailymail.co.uk/travel.
- If you’ve got canny travel tips, tell us at [email protected]