We all know the buzz of collecting foreign currency. It usually means the holiday is just a few days away. But what about the money we spend before we go?
Research by ABTA (the travel agents’ association) states that we Brits spend as much before we travel as we do when we’re actually away. From the ‘holiday wardrobe’ to suncream and books for the beach, our pre-holiday spend is an average of £532, they say (opens in a new window).
Pretty crazy, isn‘t it? And all the more reason to find ways to make savings elsewhere. So – before you book your next trip – here are a few money-saving tips it’s worth knowing about.
It pays to pick your days
Many of us just log on to book flights when we get a spare minute, but the day you actually book can make a big difference to the price. As a general rule, it’s cheaper to book your flight on a Tuesday (opens in a new window).
The days of the week you fly matter too. The cheapest flights jet off on Tuesdays (because it’s not a big day for business travel) but some travel experts include Wednesdays and Thursdays as cheaper flight days. And, if you fancy a weekend away, you’ll save money if you go Saturday to Tuesday (rather than the usual Thursday). It means you’ll miss the Friday night away, but it also means a Monday off work, and that’s never a bad thing.
The difference between booking last-minute and at just the right time
There’s a misconception that the closer to your travel date you book, the better the flight deal. Not so. Travel search site Skyscanner (opens in a new window) has built its entire business on understanding when the best flight prices are available. Turns out, on average, it’s seven weeks in advance.
Thankfully the Skyscanner website (opens in a new window) has handy charts showing optimum booking times for different destinations, so get your calendar out and start counting the days.
Yes, there are exceptions. For the USA, it’s 21 weeks in advance (which could save you around £120 (opens in a new window)), while for Turkey it’s 13 weeks.
Learn the ‘codesharing’ trick
Codesharing is when two or more airlines share the same flight, but each airline publishes and markets the flight under its own schedule and flight number. So if you know the flight you want, you can check if it’s being sold by one of the airlines’ partners. If it is, you may find they’re selling it at a cheaper price. Codesharing is mostly used for popular medium or long-haul flights. The savings can vary, but you could get as much as £50 off the price of your ticket.
Hotels where you name your price
For hotels, empty rooms are bad news, and that puts tourists in a good position. If you know what you would like to pay, discount site priceline.com (opens in a new window) has a feature that allows you to name your price and let hoteliers come to you. Just choose which area of the city you prefer, pick a star-rating, put in your bid and wait for offers. You can raise your bid once a day, so it’s a good idea to start low. If nobody bites, you just bump it up a little until someone does.
Go old school with a package deal
Yes, a package deal. Really. The thing is, since booking separate flights and accommodation online has become the norm, most people think that’s always the cheapest way to do it. Not necessarily.
While high street Travel Agents might be slowly disappearing, travel companies offer a huge range of package deals through other channels – often at amazingly cheap prices. And when it comes to holiday types and destinations, they’re a lot more open-minded and imaginative than they used to be.
You can make the biggest savings if you’re prepared to go at short notice. Most travel companies have ‘last minute’ sections on their websites, or view a broader choice at lastminute.com (opens in a new window) , expedia.co.uk (opens in a new window) or travelsupermarket.com (opens in a new window)
Off-season savings for your suitcase
If you book your trip at short notice, you might not be able to find the holiday gear you want on the high street. Trawling the summer sales for the last pair of flip-flops isn’t a very fun way to prepare for your holiday. That’s where ebay (opens in a new window) can save the day. Not only can you find pretty much anything you want off-season (often at less than half price) but you can have everything delivered straight to your door.
Sunshine or city break, sandals or snowboards, B’s tips for trips can help you make the most of your money. So you’ll have more to spend when you’re actually away.