Booking a summer holiday is a common task to take the edge off the dreary start to a new year.
But the weakening British pound and constant uncertainties that surround Brexit might put people off splashing out on a holiday.
The good news is that there are plenty of money saving tricks that can help bring down the cost of any holiday.
Here’s my guide to some of the best ones, so you don’t have to put your 2018 break on hold.
Bag cheap flights
When it comes to booking a flight, most people know they should check price comparison websites to find the best deals.
But there’s another website that can help you find cheap flight by doing all the leg-work for you. Jack’s Flight Club scans airlines and price comparison websites for the best discounts, hidden offers and even error fares. By signing up to the newsletter you receive notification of the best deals around.
For example a recent newsletter detailed flights from London to New Zealand for £397 - when they are normally around £1,000. Jack once found a return flight from London to New York for £99. The newsletter is free - so you’ve got nothing to lose.
If you are searching for flights yourself, 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.
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.
Of course it’s not a completely free trip. You need to pay for travel and living expenses while you’re away.
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.uk, homeexchange.com. They have search filters to help you find exactly the type and location you want.
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, where people rent out their homes and holiday homes to holidaymakers, is a tried and tested winner for avoiding pricey hotels. There is a way to go even further in your money saving quest. If you can find a place on Airbnb 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.
If you can bear to wing it while you’re away rather have pre-booked accommodation, try the app called hoteltonight.com. When hotels have unsold rooms, they load them on the app.
Read up on currency movements
While reading the business pages of a daily newspaper might not be your favourite pastime, keeping up with currency movements is a smart way save a packet on a holiday abroad.
Sunny Beach in Bulgaria has been named the cheapest place to visit by the Post Office. Yet the biggest price falls of all have been in long haul destinations, thanks to a combination of the stronger pound and lower charges in shops, restaurants and bars. Prices have dropped 36% in Dubai and 27% in New Zealand.
There have also been significant price falls in two long haul cities that have risen to prominence in Post Office barometers in recent years. Japanese capital Tokyo remains the cheapest long haul destination. The only European destination to register a price fall was Porec in Croatia’s Istrian Peninsula.
Cut costs 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. It’s also worth considering a pre-paid currency card for the destinations you are travelling to and top these up online from your UK bank account as necessary. You can find a comprehnsive guide to these cards on Money Saving Expert.
Use price comparison websites – with care
Be wary of booking car hire, insurance and trips on price alone. While price comparison websites can certainly save you money, the true cost of things can be hidden by companies stripping away extras to appear the cheapest, just as the no-frills airlines do.