Money Means guides are brought to you by FSCS, the people who protect your money from £1 up to £85,000 in UK banks, building societies and credit unions. Find out more.
Booking a holiday early in the year is popular for families who like to have a trip in the diary. For those on a limited budget, getting the most for your money is crucial. Here’s what you need to know to make sure you get a top deal.
Save on booking flights
There’s a knack to getting a good price on flights. Timing is everything. The best fares are advertised about 50 days ahead of departure with the most expensive appearing three days before travel, according to Phil Bloomfield of Cheapflights.co.uk.
The best days to fly anywhere are Tuesday to Thursday so you avoid the Monday morning rush of business travellers and the weekend escapers.
“Tuesdays are the least popular days to travel and therefore the cheapest,” says Bloomfield. “Friday is consistently the most expensive day to fly because of the increased demand from those trying to get away for the weekend. Your time of flight departure can also impact flight costs; morning flights tend to be more expensive so those who have the flexibility to travel between 6pm and midnight will save.”
Save on booking accommodation
There are countless websites for hotel deals, such as Hotels.com, Booking.com and lastminute.com so you can sift through the best prices. If you can find a new hotel opening they often have heavily discounted rates for their first season.
There are also websites that connect you with homeowners that want to rent out their holiday apartments and villas, such as ownersdirect.co.uk, holidaylettings.co.uk and Airbnb.co.uk.
Some may offer discounts during quieter periods as private owners would rather take a discounted rate than have the place empty so it’s always worth getting in touch. You can email them through the websites or often their phone number will appear. Just be aware that there’s been a flood of scams with Owners Direct. Victims are being conned with fake property listings on the site, or a legitimate property listing is hijacked, leaving guests out of pocket and without anywhere to stay on arrival.
For the ultimate bargain, take part in a house swap and pay nothing. You will need to find dates that suit both swappers and be comfortable with strangers in your home. Visit homelink.org.uk or lovehomeswap.com.
Save by taking a package deal
The all-inclusive holiday is tipped to be popular in 2017 for young families on a budget who like to pay one sum and know that’s everything they will spend. Have a look at tour operator websites and see what deals they are offering. Just watch out for the terms of the holiday. All-inclusive and full-board doesn’t mean the same thing. Some will only include certain alcoholic drinks – if you order something different you will be charged.
Save by considering exchange rates
Fluctuations in the value of currencies around the world – as well as the pound – impacts the cost of a holiday as the cost of eating out, shopping and activities make a big difference to how much you spend overall.
The value of the pound has fallen considerably at the time of this article, so you will want carefully choose your destination to get the best value. A new report claims that European take nine of the top ten best value deals. The Algarve is the cheapest destination for the second year running. Sunny Beach, Bulgaria and the Costa del Sol are also very cheap, it says.
Although the exchange rate does mean things are more expensive for British tourists, the increases tourists can expect are much lower than might have been expected in some resorts, because local prices have either been pegged or are lower than a year ago.
The report, by The Post Office, says that the best value long haul holiday is to Japan, followed by Cape Town in South Africa and Cancun, Mexico. Check out exchange rates at travelex.co.uk or postoffice.co.uk/travel-money.
Save using comparison sites
Comparison sites focus on the cheapest fares first, but sometimes the cheapest flights involve long layovers and multiple stops so you need to sift through the best deals with a careful eye.
A comparison site’s responsibility ends once the customer clicks to book and leaves their website.It is up to you to ensure you have booked the correct trip.
Delete browser history when it comes to booking flights. Prices can increase based on the number of times you revisit a particular website to re-check fares.
Don't assume going directly to the airline is the cheapest way to travel. Check flight comparison websites such as skyscanner.net
Stay ahead of the sales- sign up to airline and comparison website newsletters and alerts so that you’re ahead of the game when it comes to flash sales, discounts and special offers.
Save on snacks at the airport
Buying a one-off access pass to an airport lounge could actually save you money- with shops and restaurants in airport departure terminals charging eye-watering premiums on drinks and snacks.
Most lounges offer free wi-fi, food, alcohol and showers, as well as peace and quiet from the hustle and bustle of an airport. Some even go the extra mile with free spa treatments. A day pass can set you back as little as £13.50 so it’s worth investigating and weighing up the cost. Check out no1lounges.com or airport-lounges.co.uk.
Save by getting the best travel insurance
Don’t travel without it to save money as that could turn out to be a false economy if the worst happens and you need medical care or are robbed. Shop around for travel insurance and if you have special circumstances, such as a recent cancer diagnosis, you may be best off using a broker, who can help you find the cheapest specialist cover. Check the British Insurance Brokers’ Association for a list https://www.biba.org.uk/insurance-guides/travel-insurance-guides/travel-insurance/.
Save by making use of existing benefits
If you pay for a packaged current account or newspaper subscription, for example, you may be paying for travel insurance already. Check the limitations of any policy that is included to see if it would be better to cancel it and arrange cover separately – or stick with what you have got.
… And save yourself stress
How you book your holiday can have an impact on the level of financial protection you’re entitled to if something goes wrong. Travel agents and tour operators are often members of protection schemes like ATOL or ABTA. Find out more about financial safeguards for holidays here at money.co.uk.
What is Money Means?
Money Means is a news and information series written by independent financial and consumer journalists and experts*. FSCS launched Money Means in 2016 to help give people clear and useful information about personal finance, to increase their understanding and confidence when dealing with money.
*THE VIEWS EXPRESSED IN MONEY MEANS ARE OF THE WRITERS AND NOT OF FSCS AND SHOULD NOT BE REGARDED AS ADVICE.
Holly Thomas explains how to get most for your money when it comes to planning your holiday, whether you're on a tight budget or you just want to save on any unnecessary costs