I’ve been on a fair few holidays over the past several years without having much money in my bank account. But I’ve found a few ways to be able to afford to travel abroad without having to sell my iPhone/go bankrupt.
– Do your research
This sounds obvious, but so many people are set in their ways on how they book their holidays. It can feel more comfortable using a particular website or company to book your holiday, but it doesn’t mean that it is the best or the cheapest way. As long as a company is Attol protected, it’s worth embracing your inner Sherlock Holmes and investigating for a good deal.
Comparison websites such as Trivago can help compare prices of hotels, but I like to do my own research and compare different ways in which I can book my holiday.
Sometimes it can be better to book a package holiday and other times it’s best to book each part of the holiday separately. Here are some of the different places I will often check.
- Expedia is probably what I’ve used most to book holidays. You can book either your flights, hotel or both. They will offer you the cheapest option in regards to flights but you have the freedom to pick your preferred flight time. (Because 1.30am flights home may be cheap but just, no. I don’t want to feel like I have jet lag from travelling back from Spain.)
- Skyscanner is the best place to compare flight prices.
- Airbnb can offer more affordable accommodation in the comfort of your own space. But don’t assume it is always the cheapest option as I’ve seen 4* hotels for half the price of a small apartment.
- Travel Republic also offer very affordable deals. I have previously used them to book a package holiday. I liked that I was able to pick and choose every part of my holiday from the hotel, to the flight, to transfers to suit my personal preferences and budget.
It is also worth researching which times of the year your desired destinations are good to visit. Summer holidays are obviously for just that, the summer, (and multiple Instagram pics of you sipping sangria by the hotel pool) but if you are looking for a Europe city break or want to venture to a country further afield, you may be surprised when you find out the best times to go. That way you might be able to beat the surge in prices during peak times.
– Earn rewards from the Expedia
Sign up to be an Expedia Rewards Member which gives you access to their bonus features, as well as earning rewards including discounts and money off bookings. My boyfriend and I have booked several holidays through them and this allowed us to get a huge discount on a hotel in Dublin which we wouldn’t have been able to afford otherwise.
– Play around with the dates
Not everyone has the luxury to go on holiday when they would like to. If you have children, you are limited to school holidays, and different industries can often restrict the time of year that you get to jet off. The more flexible you are, the easier it’s going to be. But not to fear if you don’t have this freedom! There are still ways around this.
If you are looking to go on a city break for a couple of days, I cannot recommend going on week days, enough. You may have to use a couple of extra days of your holiday from work, but it is going to save you a lot of money. We all have a habit of using our holiday sparingly, but it is there for just that: holidays! Otherwise it’s nearing end of the year and you have to take off a dreary day in November before you lose it. As much as a duvet day off work can be nice, a day eating Italian gelato in Rome is even nicer. Particularly if it is saving you money.
But if you don’t have this luxury, or you are looking to go away for a week or two, try adjusting your dates ever so slightly. Sometimes a day or two later can make a huuuuge difference to the price. I recently booked a holiday to Ibiza and just two days earlier, the hotel was nearly twice the price. Similarly the flights a day earlier and later had a massive price difference. So spend the time adjusting the dates slightly.
– Low season offers
The beginning of the year and the dip after the summer hols are the BEST times to get booking. After Christmas, everyone is skint, having spent all their money on presents and overpriced mulled wine at Christmas markets, so budget airlines in particular offer a massive discount on flights. And if you are anything like me and get the January blues, this can lift your spirit right up! So if you can put aside a spare few pennies you might be able to get return flights for the price of a Pizza Express meal. Seriously.
Autumn similarly sees a dip in the booking of some holiday destinations. There is usually a bit of a push in advertisements to visit Europe in particular. So if you haven’t managed to get in a summer hol, why not jet off for a few nights while everyone else is stuck at work. And post it all over your Instagram stories. Obvs.
– Be aware of hidden costs on cheap deals
As much as I jump at the deals I previously mentioned, (because I LOVE a bargain) make sure you look up any other extra costs before ordering 5 holiday outfits from PLT.
Each airline differs in what they offer and what add ons you are going to want/need. Some airlines have discounted reserved seats when they have these flash sales, which makes the whole holiday come in on (or under!) budget rather nicely. But some don’t, and if you’re travelling with someone else, you may favour paying extra to sit next to your travel buddy so you can get in the holiday spirit as soon as you are on the plane. And get a glass of bubbly or two. Because the holiday starts on the plane, right?
If you want to check in a bag, research the prices, as this is how some airlines make their money. Also check their policies on hand luggage. Depending on their particular carry on rules, you may be able to get away with not checking in a bag at all. But definitely check first.
Cheaper flights may also be at less desirable times. If you are an early bird (although I’m not sure who actually enjoys getting up at 3am) you might love the rush of a 6am flight. But bare in mind that public transport won’t be available this early in the morning. You will either need to get a cab or stay in a hotel by the airport the night before. (Or try and bribe a relative to drive you the airport at 4am with the promise of holiday gifts. That’s a great money saver too.)
Happy holiday booking!