Holidays are costly and the price differences between someone that puts in effort to save money from the booking of it to their spending money, and someone that goes along with the norm, is going to be considerable.
Holidays in the UK
Holidays in the UK can be just as expensive as going abroad, or they can be very cheaply done, depending on your situation and needs. Camping or a caravan break can be done cheaply, but you need a bit of foresight to save money, as it can be tempting to go to the most popular (and thereby most expensive sites) for ease, and to end up eating out a lot instead of cooking on the stove, splurging on days out at theme parks, and so on. Save money by preparing some easy meals, planning some cheap days out at a beach or in the countryside, and stocking up on alcoholic drinks and snacks from the supermarket before you go.
If you’re travelling very far, consider travelling by coach instead of car or train, to save money considerably in some instances. This is not always practical, though, so if you go by car, shop around for the cheapest fuel, avoid tolls and avoid driving faster than is necessary, particularly if you are towing a caravan.
The age-old debate is whether you get a bigger bargain by booking a long while in advance, or by booking a last-minute deal, and the truth is that probably either of those will give the best savings. The most expensive way to book a holiday is to go to a travel agents a few months in advance of your holiday, and book a package holiday from them, for a set fee, especially without trying to haggle the price down.
DIY – flights and hotel
There are many websites that will allow you to book flights and hotels separately, and you can even do this using the same website oftentimes. You can search for different flights options using these sites, or the more popular skyscanner.net, which will allow you to find the cheapest flights for the time you are wanting to travel, and also the cheapest airport, as it could be that a nearby airport has the same flights for a much cheaper rate. One key tip for finding cheaper flights is to travel on weekdays, and to try and avoid school holidays as much as possible. Be mindful that you will need to organise transfers and travel insurance also, and you may need jabs to go to certain countries.
Companies such as Thomson and Thomas Cook, and many more besides, publish holiday brochures and have specific package holidays for sale, known as IT (inclusive tour). The brochures usually contain tables, outlining the total cost of the holiday, which is a ‘package’ deal, and includes flights, hotel, transfers and occasionally insurance as well. You can add-on extras like airport parking and flight upgrades, as well. Typically, such package holidays are 7, 10 or 14 days, and the more usual set-up is two adults, or a family comprising two adults and 1, 2 or 3 children. The prices can be negotiated somewhat, with the individual travel agent, so if you are wishing to go via this route, make sure you ask if there is any room for negotiation on the total price. This method of booking a holiday is ideal if you are nervous of the booking process, concerned that something may be forgotten, or whatever, and all travel agents have ATOL and ABTA protection, so that if there was a problem, or the travel agent itself went into administration, your holiday (or at least your money) would be protected.
It is a good idea to set a realistic budget when going on holiday. Even if you are going on an all-inclusive holiday, you will probably have trips to pay for, and perhaps a meal out, or some gift buying. If you are self-catering, you will need to account for buying plenty of water as well as your meals, ice-creams, gifts or souvenirs and trips, so this can amount to a large sum if you’re not careful.
You can get fee free credit cards, whereby you use them abroad to pay directly for meals/goods, and you then have the balance to pay once you return home. If you are exchanging currency, either at home or abroad, check out the rates and find a comparison, so you know you’re getting the best deal. The difference between what may seem like negligible interest rate hikes can actually amount to a large sum.
Another method is to just use your normal bank account’s debit card. If you use these in ATMs abroad, always have the amount paid in the local currency, even if it asks you if you would like it converted into GBP, as you will usually fare better doing that, and save £2 to £3 a time, which mounts up.
Remember, tipping is expected but British holiday-makers are famous for over-tipping. Instead of the 10-20% you would tip in the UK, you are usually just expected to leave the loose change, or maybe 5% of the total bill, in many places abroad. Similarly, taxis and hair dressers don’t usually expect a tip, although a small one is appreciated.
Some tips for the airport:
Check around for airport parking deals. Comparison websites exist, and you can often get a deal along with your airport hotel, if you’re booking one. If you’re local, consider a taxi or bus instead. Another consideration for parking is parking at someone’s house, details of which are usually on the comparison sites as well.
Weigh your luggage at home to avoid any unexpected overweight baggage charges, and take your own plastic bags for liquids. Pre-made sandwiches can save you almost £20 for a family of four, but beware you won’t be able to take your own drinks through airport security.