Finding that elusive bank holiday bargain break - it sounds great, doesn't it, but how easy is it to find a bargain in today's world of cut-price breaks and 'once in a lifetime deals'?
For so many people, finding that cheap break stops being so cheap as soon as they add up the cost of hotels, food, and entertainment. The flight may cost £9.99, but getting to the airport and back and finding a hostel isn't easy, and before you know it, you've kissed goodbye to a small fortune. How would travel experts recommend finding a break that's genuinely cheap as chips? We asked a few; here's their verdict.
Peter Grover, Managing Director at CheapOair UK
- Book well in advance. Booking in advance is important to secure the best flight deals, whether you’re looking at low cost or scheduled airlines. Increase chances of securing your preferred seat on the plane (especially important when travelling with children) by booking in advance too, or by joining a frequent flyer programme and requesting seats.
- Consider flying at less popular times. Flexibility with dates and considering flying out mid-week if you can afford the time off work will slash prices.
- Consider a different airport. If your chosen destination seems pricey, try a nearby airport in the UK or at your chosen destination. A slightly longer transfer either side may be worth it if you can save on the flight price.
- Always compare costs and don’t assume a low cost airline will be cheapest. Low cost airlines may not always offer the cheapest fares; you might save money by booking with a scheduled airline.
- Push your boundaries. Just looking for a break in the sun? Research where has good prices and availability rather than just the popular locations - you'll get to experience somewhere new, and it won't be as busy as the main tourist hot spots.
Ian Crawford, Marketing Manager at Holiday Hypermarket:
- Don't book through a high street travel agent. Today, there are many online travel agencies that offer holidays at reduced rates. The holidays are the same as you would see in a brochure but yet offer savings of over 60%.
- Sign up to online travel agents' newsletters. There are a plethora of online travel agents now, all competing with one another, and each company has different special offers. If your family are flexible and are looking for inspiration, the newsletter deals can be one of the best ways to find a deal.
- Be flexible. If you are flexible on either dates or destination, it is inevitably easier to save. Special offers are always set, so you must work around them.
- Follow online travel agents on social media : Many online travel companies offer flash sales and special offers. Make sure your settings are allowing notifications to come through from each of the pages, so you don’t miss a deal.
Chris Clarkson, Managing Director of Sunshine.co.uk:
- First of all, avoid package holidays and do a bit of research to compare the separate prices of flights and accommodation. You will be surprised how much you can save by just spending a little time doing this. Thanks to the comparison sites that are out there now and travel agencies that offer ‘all under one roof’ services, you can mix and match your hotel and transport bookings to get the best deal
- It’s best not to leave booking until the very last minute. The optimum time to book flights is five weeks before departure, in order to stand the best chance of getting a good deal.
- Other ways to save include dropping a star rating or two in terms of your accommodation. If you usually stick to 5* hotels, take a look at 3* or 4* offerings. Often, you’ll hardly be able to notice a difference in the quality and, as it’s somewhere you don’t actually spend a lot of your holiday time, it doesn’t matter if your room, apartment or villa doesn’t resemble the inside of Buckingham Palace.
- Finally, look at all inclusive options. Although the initial expense will appear to be higher than self catering or half board bookings, you will actually end up saving money and having a cheaper break in the long run.
Image credit: Flickr/Martin Pettitt