The 6 Steps to Getting a Great Holiday Deal

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Step 1: Pick Where to Go!

The best bit: picking where in our wonderful wide world you want to take yourself. If your destination is already set in stone skip ahead to step two. If not, we’ve got a few tips on where in the world you’ll get some great value for money.

Find Cheaper Alternatives

Med beach breaks:
If you’re after some Mediterranean sun we find that the Algarve often works out cheaper than the Spanish costas.
Heading to the east? Turkey is still offering incredible value for money, especially if you want to go all inclusive.

Somewhere exotic:
In the Caribbean the likes of St Lucia and Antigua come at a premium, but there are bargains to be had in Cuba and the Dominican Republic, and believe us, the beaches are just as blissful.
Have you considered Goa? Pound for pound this paradisical stretch of Indian coastline works out one of the best tropical destinations out there, sometimes costing barely more than a package holiday in Europe.

City breaks:
Eastern Europe is champion of the city break bargain – the slight increase in flight cost is soon outweighed by the lower cost of living and finding hotel accommodation. Plus it’s not like you’d be taking a hit on the quality of your break – these cities ooze culture, history and have some lively nightlife. Try Budapest, Krakow or Riga for starters.

Cheap beaches: Turkey, Goa and Cuba Some of our top picks for value beach breaks: Turkey, Goa and Cuba

Go Anywhere

Genuinely don’t mind where you go so long as it’s hot, serves a good mojito and the price is right?

A number of package holiday price comparison websites will let you search ALL destinations and just pick out the cheapest ones. Our search tool is here (just search for “Any”).
And in the interest of fairness: other price comparison websites are available.


Step 2: When to Go

School holiday price hikes – and how to avoid them

It might be that you don’t have complete control over when you can take your two weeks leave. Families and teachers in particular are hit hard by school holiday price hikes.
If you do need to travel outside of term time try these tactics:

Final few weeks – As a rule the first weeks of the summer holidays are the most expensive, the final week is far cheaper.
Go for odd durations – try a five-day holiday, or go long with an 11-night stay. It seems to bring the price-per-day down. No, we don’t know why it works either.
Be adventurous – Family favourite destinations have the most eyebrow raising price increases during school holidays – for obvious reasons. But teachers (or adventurous families) who feel like exploring the temples of Cambodia’s Angkor Wat or hiking through the Scottish highlands will find the price increases aren’t quite so shocking.

Family holiday

Shoulder season sweet spots

The period either side of high season is known as shoulder season, and this is the bit the savvy traveller wants to aim for. You’re likely to still get the superior peak season climate, but fewer other tourists and, crucially, for a lot less money.


Step 3: Choose your Moment: When to Book

Leave it late

After extensive research we discovered that hotel rooms have a price dip three weeks before the travel. Waiting until that close to your departure is a risky tactic which could leave you scrambling for somewhere to stay if rooms do sell out… but it can also pay dividends.

The last-minute tactic also works well for holidays, so long as you’re not too concerned about where you’re staying. Providing you’re not travelling in peak season it’s very likely that there are going to be some spare rooms in your chosen resort, and their hotel is going to be pretty keen to fill them, even if it’s at a discount…

Last min: Just try to leave enough time to get to the airport

Early bird

Not a risk taker? Then the other way to save on your hols is to book early. And we mean early – over nine months in advance ideally.
And if you’re going in the peak times then book yesterday. Even with the massive peak season demand hotels will offer some money off if it secures early bookings – but you need to be very early for this tactic to work, because there are hundreds of other holiday makers with the same idea!

Book in the sales

January sales hit travel too – and there are some real savings out there. The airlines are the best place to pick up a bargain. Our two big British carriers, Virgin Atlantic and British Airways, launch their sales like clockwork each year. Plus there are often reduced fares from the likes of Emirates, KLM and United too. Some airlines also have a second, smaller, sale in September.

If you can, it is worth waiting for one of these periods to book. It’s not guaranteed that your flight will be less, but I’m speaking from experience when I say it is most frustrating when you spent £40 more on a non-direct flight just one month before – even dealcheckers sometimes make mistakes.


Step 4: Explore Booking Options

Compare and save

You must compare prices. Yes, we’re biased on this one. But years of experience have proven time and time again that there in no one cheapest place to book. And there are handy price comparison sites about (insert shameless plug here) that take the legwork out of the comparison for you.

Don’t assume that going to the source will lead to the lowest price. Often hotels will offer exclusive fares to one re-seller in an effort to get rid of some excess stock without hurting margins on their site. Or flight websites will cut into their own profit to offer the same fare cheaper than their competitors.

Piggy Beach

Package vs Independent bookings

Only a decade ago booking a holiday involved waiting patiently in the travel agent’s whilst they made all the arrangements for you – flights, hotel and transfers. These days the internet has given everyone complete control over every bit of your holiday booking – if you want it – and which is better value depends on what

Package holidays: The traditional package lives on. Whilst you’ll probably pay more up front, if you know that you are going to book transfers, you will want a meal on the plane and you want the security of having a rep in resort this can work out the best value for money. Plus you save time by not making several bookings and you benefit from ATOL and ABTA protection if something should go wrong.

Flight + hotel: The Internet is awash with websites which will book your flight and hotel for you. Although they might argue these do not constitute a holiday package, since 2012 if you book a flight and a hotel (or car hire) from the same travel website within a 24-hour period then you are entitled to ATOL protection.
Extras like transfers and checked-in luggage aren’t automatically included, so you can choose whether you want to add them or make the savings and make your own way.

DIY: Take complete control and book all the elements of your holiday separately. Advantage is complete freedom to plan the holiday you want, and you can book wherever is cheapest. Downsides are it can be time consuming and you need to make sure you have good travel insurance – but you should have that anyway, right?

Step 5: Haggle!

So you have the holiday you want, for the cheapest time, and you know when to book it.

Want to know how to get even more money off your holiday? Just ask!

Phones – can also save you money on your holiday

Take your best price from the Internet as a starting point and hit the phones – can the travel agent on the line beat it? You can try this tactic several times if you like, until you’re sure you’ve got the best offer you’re going to get.

Step 6: Relax and Enjoy!

The happy holiday of a smart saver

Perhaps you’ll have saved enough cash for another one?