There is no doubt about it, I LOVE a holiday. I need to travel, experience difficult cultures and just see as much of the world as possible but I have never had a huge budget.
One of the questions I have had often is How much was it? How do I afford it? and whilst I do think a few people are asking to just be nosey there is a huge portion of people just wanting to know if its possible and how they can get there hands on a decent deal too!
So, I decided to put together some hints and tips that I have used over the years to try and secure the best deals. Now please note, I started my career working in the travel industry, working for two of the biggest travel companies in the world so I was really lucky to have some training in travel laws, ATOL/ABTA training, what to look for and most importantly – about some of the most incredible travel destinations across the world. However, just because this was the starting of my career and I was fortunate enough to have this training doesn’t mean I have access to anything you don’t nowadays so anything I discuss below you will have access to and should be able to do/find online. So here goes…
Now I know this isn’t always easy between annual leave requests and school holidays but if you have got any flexibility in dates or times of the year you travel this will really help. It is obvious that travelling outside of the school holidays is always cheaper however you may find that your local area has a slightly different school holidays to the rest of the UK and this can often give you a huge difference in cost!
Day of the week. Travel on a Wednesday! YES, I appreciate it sounds so random but Wednesdays can often be far cheaper to travel as business travel days are earlier in the week and leisure weekends tend to start from Thursday so if you are travelling flight only then have a look at possibly moving your travel date to a Wednesday where possible.
Flight times. It is lovely to have really lovely day time flights that don’t require you to get up at silly o clock (or stay up all night) but to save a pretty penny sometimes sacrifices are necessary! We opted for very late flight times from NYC back to the UK and saved nearly £60 per seat on the return flight alone. Travelling with children can often make this difficult but we actually found the night flights made it slightly easier for us as we had to do far less entertaining!
Duration. 7 & 14 nights is a popular travel choice especially in the package holiday industry because of the flight patterns however if you are booking things separately then you have so much more flex on duration and this can make a massive difference. 6 nights, 11 nights, 9 nights – the odd durations will often mean you can save on flights and hotels and also annual leave!
Strip it back.
This is so key especially if you are not booking a package holiday.
Meals. For our flights to NYC we didn’t have in flight meals. I know it sounds crazy for a long haul flight but each single meal was over £35 per person! For the four of us it was over £100 for the tiny little meals and drinks throughout the flight. Now neither of us drink when alone with the children travelling so we knew we wouldn’t spend there and we calculated that we wouldn’t spend that much on a meal at the airport. We took them off both journeys saving £210 (on a return journey) and spent a total of £26 on breakfast at the airport and £12 in boots on fresh fruit and snacks for the journey. The journey home was a night flight so we all slept 90% of the journey and the meal we had before was our regular dinner included in our holiday spending budget. This meant we saved over £172 by taking the flight meals off!
Luggage. This is another easy one however I appreciate it isn’t easy for everyone. We managed to take just rucksacks for NYC (3 nights/4 days) and on some of our travels next year we are looking to potentially do the same. I have historically always over packed for holidays but as the luggage fares increase and seem to now constantly be an added extra I have been far more strict with myself and it has saved us a fortune (£50 per person per travel on average). Biggest tip when coming to luggage is ALWAYS check the specific airline – they will all have slightly differently policies and you don’t want to be caught out at the airport.
Discounts & Offers
Mailing lists. I am signed up to so many different booking travel sites and always opt in for offers and deals and whilst the constant emails are annoying they often include some fab discount codes. Booking.com is fab for this and will always send good deals or random discount codes.
Search. If you don’t want to sign up to all the mailing lists then when you have found what you are looking for online simply google the site and discount codes. I did this and saved 15% off booking a hotel stay in Budapest for our mini moon and saved over £70 and landed us a free updrade on the room too.
Free Child Places. When booking a package holiday if you are far enough in advanced you can normally grab one however always read the small print! Often they will bump up the price of the adult prices to cover this so it isn’t always better value for money but often especially if you have more than one child it can really work.
Ask. The famous saying, if you don’t ask you don’t get can often be true in travel (you sometimes won’t get even when asking but always worth it!). Email ahead to any accommodation you are staying at and ask them if you can have an upgrade, do they have any offers coming up or offer free night stays. If you are celebrating a special occasion tell them! You don’t have to be a blogger to nab yourself some freebies, hotels rely on reviews from everyone especially their general customers so ask! Offer to give them a good review on trip advisor and see what happens – you have NOTHING to loose and could get yourself a nice little cheeky upgrade of some free nights.
This is hands down one of my favourite websites to search for flights and their ‘cheapest month’ feature is brilliant. You can search almost a full year and look for the cheapest flights and if you have the flexibility (as per the first tip) then this is even better. There are various similar sites but this is the one comparison site/flight scanner I have found that doesn’t give you a difference in price when you actually go through to the direct airline website (if there is a difference it is minimal). You can be flexible with dates you choose and allow yourself to save a pretty penny by flying back a day earlier etc as it will show you the single price fare for each flight on each day.
This may sound ridiculous but booking your holidays late at night is always better! I have heard this so many times and always thought it was ridiculous but it can often be true. So if your a night owl or don’t mind staying up have a look at the prices between 11pm-4am in comparison to during the day and you may find a small difference in price.
Clear your cookies and delete your search history! When a website realises you are searching for the same holiday multiple times (especially package holiday sites) it will increase the price. It is so frustrating but the travel industry is based solely on supply and demand so the prices will naturally go up when they know something is wanted. I have seen this first hand and searched for a holiday over and over (dreaming) and when we go to book it is more expensive! I tend to switch devices and look elsewhere or delete my history on the device I am searching and start again.
Please note this is VERY common on general package holiday sites and slightly less for independent travel however I would recommend clearing your history for all travel searches to cover yourself!
Show me the Money.
One thing we have consistently done when we want to raise funds for a holiday is just find quick ways to make some cash. Last year I set up an instagram page ( tffo_sale_ ) and uploaded LOADS of bits to sell. I went through all my wardrobe and sold so many clothes, shoes and accessories I had never worn or had only worn once. I did this across depop, ebay and instagram and made nearly £500 which went towards our Mexico holiday.
This is a great tip for saving or making quick money for ANYTHING! Look around your house, wardrobe, loft, garage, have you got items that you can whack on FB and put towards a holiday fund? I certainly find having a goal in mind pushes me to be more savvy and look for more things to sell to get my holiday funds up. We do this every time we really want to kick start or boost our holiday pot – so watch out for the page! We have our eye on a holiday next year so will be hitting Facebook Marketplace with loads of items and I will be back on my selling page (no doubt with 90% of my wardrobe because I am too pregnant and nothing fits anymore)
Travelling to the airport or parking/hotel can often be a massive expensive before you have even left! If you can get a lift to the airport them winner winner chicken dinner but often this isn’t the case (especially if you have a ridiculous – but cheap – flight time). Pre booking as far in advanced as possible is the only way to secure a super good deal.
We pre booked our parking for our NYC holiday which only cost us £38.00 and was meet and greet. SO easy with the kids as you drive straight into the terminal. We checked this price the day before we left to compare and it had gone up for £48.90 for the exact same parking package.
The More the merrier.
My mum was a single mum so holidays were not always in our remit however if we did look at them she would often seek out another single friend and pair up as this worked out cheaper for package holidays as child prices are normally only based on 2 adults sharing. If you are able to pair up with others whether another person, another single parent, a group of friends, or even a another family and see if you can get group discounts and save on rooms occupancies etc.
Bigger isn’t always better
As my start in career was in two big name brands I always booked with them and it wasn’t until I got slightly more savvy booking on my own that I realised just because they were the biggest or most well known that didn’t automatically mean they offered the best deals. I always feared smaller agents charged more but that certainly isn’t the case. A lot of the time the smaller agencies can do a lot of the shopping around with you especially those who have long standing relationships with airlines or hotel chains.
Along with this, we have come across so many airlines we haven’t heard of before which naturally I would have refused to book despite the prices being good, we now do significant research and read ALL the reviews and as long as they are ABTA and ATOL protected we now take the risk and often go with cheaper options providing everything else looks great (you can also do research into airline safety etc)
Last but not least – sometimes if you are restricted with dates and times and it is close or slightly over what you want to spend then book far in advanced. Many holidays you can book 11-18 months in advance in some cases with a low deposit. Manage the payments over the period of time and you will have your holiday! It can often be the long game but if you struggle to put cash aside and end up spending it then with this you have no choice but to pay off your holiday bit by bit! When working in travel I had SO many customers who did this as the best way to guarantee their holiday but manage their money accordingly. As soon as they were back they would do the same for the following year to ensure they always had their annual trip. (When returning you often get a bunch of marketing emails with offers for your next booking too!)
If you have got this far than congratulations! I appreciate that was pretty long but hopefully there is enough tips or explains how we manage to afford our holidays and inspires and helps you get your next trip booked.
Thanks for stopping by x
The Fat Funny One x
P.S – I currently have nothing booked and I am itching!