21 June 2014

How to book your holiday

No one wants to pay over the odds for a holiday, but getting the best deal is easier said than done. Should you book months in advance, or leave it until the last minute? Use a travel agent, or book online? Here are some of the best ways to ensure your holiday is value for money.

Do lots of research

Travel comparison sites offer you great tools for comparing deals from different providers. Try sites like Skyscanner, Momondo and Kayak to compare prices from all the major airlines, tour operators, hotels and car hire firms at the click of a button.

Book at the last minute

If you’re happy to hang on and wait to book your holiday, there are some great bargains to be had. Sites such as LateRooms and Trivago offer late hotel deals, while the likes of Hotwire and lastminute.com have top mystery hotels available at discounted rates. Although you’re not supposed to know what you’re getting until you’ve booked, there is a way round this. By typing the hotel’s description into a search engine you can often find out the name of the hotel before you book.

If you don’t want to leave it to the last minute, it’s generally better to book as far in advance as possible to take advantage of earlybird discounts. The other benefit of booking early is that you have more choice.

Get a package deal

If you’re planning to go abroad for longer than a week, a package holiday is often your best bet, and booking with an Atol-protected company offers you more peace of mind if anything goes wrong. Travel agents buy holiday packages from tour operators in bulk, so they will mark prices down if any remain unsold a couple of months before the departure date in an attempt to recoup some of their costs. The closer to the date of departure, the cheaper the holiday is likely to be, so if you’re not set on a specific resort or hotel, you can grab a real bargain.

Fly at less convenient times

Avoid flying on Fridays and Saturdays if you want to save money. Often, midweek flights are the cheapest so try to be as flexible as possible. And if you’re prepared to fly through the night or take a non-direct flight, you can knock hundreds of pounds off the overall cost of your holiday. Where you fly from should be another consideration. Don’t assume that your nearest airport will be the cheapest. You could save a packet on flights by looking at alternative airports.

Avoid the peak holiday season

If you don’t have children and you’re not a teacher, it’s best to avoid travelling during the school holidays when demand is at its highest. If you do have to travel during the summer break, go in late August when prices are sometimes slightly lower than they are in the previous four weeks.

Register your interest

Sign up for newsletters and loyalty schemes from travel companies, hotels and airlines so you’re one of the first to hear about special deals, discounts and upgrades. Although your inbox will be somewhat fuller, you might just make some significant savings on your next holiday.

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