When you’re getting ready to book a holiday abroad on a budget, you want to be sure that you are getting the best value for your money.
The more you can save on the holiday, the more you’ll have available to spend while you’re away. But with travel to some locations being advised against, there are fewer short-haul destinations and prices have been rising. Also, the pound has been weak making the exchange rate less favourable.
However, there are a number of ways to cut the costs. The first step is deciding whether book through a travel agency or do it yourself; package holiday or independent travel and accommodation. You can still get some great last-minute holiday bargains as long as you’re not too bothered about where you go. But you generally get a better choice by booking far in advance.
As it has become easier for people to book holidays online for themselves, traditional travel agencies have had to up their game to compete. The benefits of an agency are that they save you from having to trawl through the internet and they have access to special deals from the holiday companies that you can’t get. It is also possible to haggle with them. If they’ve worked to put a deal together for you, they want you to buy it, and if that means reducing their cut they may be prepared to do it. If you tell them you’ll go away and think about it they might negotiate.
Although more people are booking holidays independently, a package deal with flights, transfers and accommodation all taken care of is still a great option. You also have a wide choice of meal options to suit your budget. Self-catering gives you complete freedom to eat where you want, while all-inclusive packages offer total control of your budget, particularly advantageous if your kids are constantly after drinks and ice cream. B&B and half-board also give you flexibility. However, where meals are included, read the hotel reviews to get an idea of the quality and variety of the food and drinks.
A lot of a tour company’s income is generated by selling extras to their customers. At your welcome meeting, the holiday rep will try to tempt you to buy various excursions and nights out, but you can often get a better price for the same trips by using a local tourist agent.
You often used to be able to get a cheap flight by waiting until the last minute as airlines tried to fill the aircraft. But that is rarely the case these days and booking well in advance is advisable. However, the prices can fluctuate and through flight booking sites such as Skyscanner you can arrange to be alerted by email if the price goes down (or up!). If you have flexibility for your travel dates you can pick the nearest day with the best price. Flights that are scheduled to depart very early or arrive late can be cheaper. Also, compare prices from different airports as it’s generally as easy to get from Warrington to Liverpool or Manchester airport. Travelling light can save you money too as on some flights it costs more to put a bag in the hold than the flight itself!
Many cities throughout Europe and beyond are exciting and vibrant, offering culture and adventure, but they can also be very expensive if you’re not prepared. Some planning ahead for a city break can help you make the most of it and save you a lot of money. Generally, the closer accommodation is to the city centre the more expensive it gets. Choosing a hotel that’s further away and using the bus or train to get to the centre will be cheaper. Some cities offer tourist travel cards which are discounted if you buy online in advance. Locations like Naples and Barcelona have travel tickets which also provide free or discounted entry at attractions. Locations such as Rome’s Colosseum and the Alhambra Palace in Granada always have lengthy queues, but buying a ticket online lets you bypass these.
Exploring the hidden corners of a city is best done on foot, and that’s free. However, check for information on places that tourists are advised to avoid. Eating out can be costly, but by looking for restaurants where the locals go, you should find good food at a reasonable price. Also, check for a menu of the day with which you’ll get a two or three course meal and sometimes a drink included for a low price.
Hiring a Car
It is generally cheaper to book a hire car in advance of travelling. However, if you use a comparison website, what might appear to be the best price could involve hidden extras that you’ll be stung for when you collect the vehicle. Always check the small print! One of the worst scams is by companies that charge you an extortionate price for a tank of fuel and tell you to bring it back empty, as you pay for fuel that you don’t use. A reputable company will provide fuel and you return it with the same amount. If you want more than the basic insurance cover, take it out at the time of booking as it will be cheaper.
The duty-free stores at the airport aren’t necessarily the cheapest places to buy alcohol, tobacco and perfume. In destinations such as the Canary Islands which have low rates of tax, those goods can be found at lower prices in the resort.
Airlines have certain obligations when flights are cancelled or held up for three hours or more and you should expect to be compensated. However, the claims process is not always straightforward as it is hoped that some people will just give up. If you’ve been delayed contact a legal expert who specialises in this area and you will be advised how to make a flight delay compensation claim.