Money Matters Team

How to get the best deals on your holidays this year

By Money Matters Team 23/07/2020

So you've mastered how to post the perfect #TravelEnvy pics, but do you know all the ways to save money on your next holiday getaway?

When you're planning your trip, there's plenty to consider: having an adventure with your friends, finding some time to relax with the family, exploring new sights, sounds and tastes... and getting the best deals every step of the way.

From the dates you choose to travel to where you bed down for the night, you can save hundreds of pounds to spend on things you want (instead of those annoying charges you don't even realise you're paying for, like that £30 to check in a piece of luggage on a budget flight).

Keep these 11 tips and tricks in mind to save you money on your next trip abroad... and start thinking about what you'll be able to use that extra cash for.

Like booking next year's holiday.

1. Be flexible

View from airplane window

It's all in the timing: booking a mid-week flight (try for a Tuesday or Wednesday) is the cheapest time to get your tickets. Travelling on Saturdays is also unpopular. As a general rule, never book a Friday flight - it'll cost you.

Booking a trip during "shoulder season" - that perfect time when the crowds of peak season have disappeared, before the weather in your destination of choice takes a turn for the worse - will not only save you money, but has the added benefit of giving you more personal space on holiday. Shoulder season changes from place to place so do some research to see when is best to visit your dream destination.

Parents of school-age children may feel restricted by school holiday timetables. But there are still ways to get a good deal (and avoid pesky school fines): timing your trip towards the end of the school holidays rather than the beginning will be cheaper than at any other time of summer.

Another option? Try booking in your big family holiday for the October half-term break instead of the summer months - you can save 25-40% over peak summer prices.

2. Forget about hotels

Photo of hotel

Sure, staying in a hotel has its perks; plush pillows, fabulous facilities, room service... but you're also paying a premium for them. We can all agree there's nothing worse than splashing out on a hotel and ending up somewhere rather blah, in a touristy destination with little local flavour or personality.

Which is why hotel alternatives like Airbnb and house swapping sites like Homelink or Love Home Swap can be a fabulous (and cheaper) alternative. You can experience a unique living space and make the most of your own kitchen. Bonus: eating in will help save you money on meals while abroad.

For those not averse to the nomadic lifestyle, (aka students or lone travellers on a budget!) Couchsurfing lets you connect with locals and is free (although you may want to give your host a nice 'thank you' gift). It might just be the ticket to help you afford to get to the far-flung destinations you've always dreamed of but never thought you'd get to see.

3. Eat like a native

Photo of dish of paella

From hitting up local markets for fresh food on the go, to enjoying the offerings from street food vans, you can save money every day by making smart choices about how you eat when abroad. Cooking meals will also help keep cash in your pocket - but if you're desperate to treat yourself to a meal or two out, choose lunch instead of dinner and a try a prix fixe or set menu for less expensive grub.

Also, when you're near a major tourist site, don't give in to the hunger pangs - walk a few blocks away and you'll find cheaper, tastier food. So when you're strolling through Venice's St. Mark's Square, enjoy the people-watching but skip the €15 coffee - which you can find for €1 in the Cannaregio district.

4. Don't forget about roaming charges

Photo of mobile phone

After posting all those #travellust pics and calling relatives back home to brag (we mean chat), you don't want to return to find a bill that's hundreds of pounds more than what you were expecting.

Using apps like Facetime and WhatsApp to video call or message your friends back home (using Wi-Fi) will help you save money.

5. Pick the right travel insurance

Photo of someone jumping into the sea

No one wants to get ill or injured on holiday, but unfortunately it's impossible to predict what will happen. So play it safe by researching Travel Insurance cover levels. Make sure you get one that suits precisely your needs, whether you're a family of four on your first family holiday or a group of friends on an adventure holiday in Costa Rica.

If you travel abroad more than twice a year, multi-trip cover could work out cheaper. Older travellers and those with pre-existing medical conditions should be upfront about declaring all information to end up with the best deal.

6. Social media - and apps - are your friend

Person taking photo of Statue of Liberty

Twitter is awash with travel deals designed to help you find discounts on hotels and airlines - just follow the accounts of major airlines, travel bloggers and aggregator sites for the latest info. As for those Facebook friends who live in California/Tuscany/Prague? Reach out to them - they'll be an endless resource for local recommendations, and may even have a spare room for you to sleep in.

From learning a new language to having a map for any destination, travel apps are a brilliant, free resource at your fingertips. As for the best budgeting-as-you-travel app? Try Trail Wallet, which tracks your budget and spending easily and will make taking care of your finances - and helping them stretch across continents - a breeze.

7. Traveling overnight cuts costs

Photo of someone looking out airplane window

If your travel plans include train journeys, you can get a deal on the price in a few different ways: try booking three months in advance for the cheapest tickets and getting individual tickets for each leg of your journey (you can save hundreds this way).

Also, sleeper trains, where you travel overnight, are often less expensive and will save you on accommodation costs for the night.

8. Look for freebies

Photo of the Louvre

Sometimes, the saying is true: the best things in life are free – especially when travelling. From free museum nights to walking along the High Line in NYC or having a guided street art tour in Barcelona. There are probably plenty of fun things to do in your destination of choice that won’t cost the earth.

9. Sign up

Photo of departure hall at airport

If you’re serious about saving on flights, embrace the junk mail: often, deals come straight from the organisations themselves, and setting up email notifications can alert you to the best deals out there. Google Flights can also help you find flights with the lowest fares.

Also, frequent fliers who like a bit of VIP treatment in airports should consider investing in a Priority Pass: standard membership starts at £69 annually (with an additional £20 a visit) and provides access to over 1300 airport lounges. Just think about all of the food, drink and Wi-Fi that will soon be at your fingertips.

10. It's all about the research

While it's tempting to get that holiday booked and to start planning your adventures straightaway, a lot of cash can be saved with the right preparation beforehand.

One trick to remember when booking flights? Try searching for multiple one-way tickets rather than a round-trip – you're likely to find the fares are often lower. As for when the right moment to buy those tickets is, according to Skyscanner, booking seven weeks in advance will provide the best discounts. Don't forget to switch on private browsing when looking for deals to avoid price hikes from past searches.

11. Get your travel money ahead of time

Photo of a pile of euro coins

The rule of any savvy traveller? Get your spending money ahead of time - it could work out more expensive if you leave it until the airport. And keep an eye out for deals which could have you earning points that can turn into cash elsewhere. For example, with Sainsbury's Bank Travel Money.

This Money Matters post aims to be informative and engaging. Though it may include tips and information, it does not constitute advice and should not be used as a basis for any financial decisions. Sainsbury's Bank accepts no responsibility for the opinions and views of external contributors and the content of external websites included within this post. Some links may take you to another Sainsbury's Bank page. All information in this post was correct at date of publication.