When do you want to go? It might be cheaper to plan your holiday for the off-season – but that could mean missing out on sunny days on the beach.
How do you want to book? Would you rather book online or use a traditional travel agent?
How do you want to pay? Decide if you want to pay upfront, with a deposit, credit card or on arrival.
Do you need a visa or vaccinations? You may need to sort these out in advance. For vaccinations, the NHS recommends seeing a GP or private travel clinic at least 8 weeks before you travel.
Different ways to book
Spend a bit of time considering what type of holiday deal will work best for you.
If you’re considering a traditional holiday resort, a package deal may be your best option.
Package deals can be booked through travel agencies, online booking sites or direct from the operator. And they’re typically covered by financial protection schemes like ATOL or ABTA.
Here are our top tips to find the best package deal:
The best time to book a package holiday is either last minute or as early as possible
Many operators offer discounts if you book as soon as a holiday goes on sale
For a last minute deal, Latedeals.co.uk recommends booking around eight weeks in advance
If you’re booking your flights and accommodation separately to save money, there are loads of ways to find your dream hotels and apartments. Just make sure your travel insurance covers both your travel and your accommodation.
Here’s how to find the best accommodation deals:
You can use comparison websites to find the best accommodation
If you’re looking to book an apartment or villa, check out sites like Airbnb or HomeAway
Check discount sites to see if there are any voucher codes for your chosen hotel
Check prices over a few days and set up alerts for price drops; many hotels monitor demand and change their prices accordingly
Once you’ve chosen your hotel and found the best price online, contact the hotel. You might get a better price if you book direct
If you’ve chosen your destination and found the perfect accommodation, it’s time to search for the best value flights:
Compare flight prices using comparison websites like Skyscanner or TravelSupermarket
If you’re travelling to a resort that’s popular for package holidays, consider booking seats on a charter flight
Check your flight times carefully, especially if you’re flying with a low cost airline. If your flight is early in the morning you may want to stay in an airport hotel the night before
Remember to check that your travel insurance covers both your flights and any accommodation you book separately.
Know your luggage allowance
One of the top tasks on your holiday planning checklist will be packing your luggage.
Before you start packing, it’s important to double-check your airline’s luggage restrictions, including weight and size limits.
To help make your life a little easier, we’ve created this handy table with some of the most common airlines’ rules.
Hand (per person)
Hold (per person, depending on ticket type)
One cabin bag up to 23kg with a maximum size of 56 x 45 x 25cm
One handbag or laptop bag up to 40 x 30 x 15cm
Most flights: two bags with a maximum weight of 23kg per bag
First class and business class: two bags of 32kg each
One cabin bag with a maximum size of 56 x 45 x 25cm (no weight limit)
A standard hold bag is 23kg. You can buy extra weight in 3kg units, up to a maximum of 32kg per bag
One cabin bag up to 10kg with a maximum size of 56 x 45 x 25cm
Up to three 22kg checked-in bags
Excess baggage can be purchased for £12 per kg, up to a maximum of 32kg per bag
Economy class: one item of hand luggage (55 x 35 x 25cm) plus one handbag or laptop bag (40 x 30 x 15cm)
Business class: two items of hand luggage plus one handbag or laptop bag
Economy class: one bag up to 23kg (max 158cm)
Business class: two bags up to 32kg (max 158cm) each
One small personal bag which must fit under the seat in front of you (40 x 20 x 25cm)
Priority customers can also take an additional 10kg bag on board (55 x 40 x 20cm)
You can purchase up to three check-in bags of 20kg
Non-priority customers can also purchase a cheaper 10kg check-in bag
One piece of hand luggage weighing up to 10kg with a maximum size of 55 x 40 x 20cm
15kg luggage allowance on TUI package holidays
Certain package holidays come with a bigger allowance of 20kg
This data was correct as of November 2019. Please check for up-to-date baggage allowance information from your chosen airline before you fly.
How to plan your holiday spending money
Whether you prefer to carry cash or cards, here are some top holiday planning tips to make the most of your travel money.
Before you buy your foreign currency, monitor exchange rates in advance – they change rapidly so act quickly when you see a good deal
Compare all offers – don’t just look for an offer with zero to low commission fees
Look out for hidden fees – rate charges and handling fees can add a few pounds to each transaction
If you think you might return with leftover currency, look out for a good ‘buy back’ rate or no ‘buy back’ fees.
Credit and debit cards
It’s quick and easy to use your debit card abroad to buy things and withdraw cash from ATMs. Credit cards can help manage the cost of large, unexpected or emergency purchases.
Here are some key things to consider if you’re planning to use your credit or debit card abroad:
Find out if your debit or credit card can be used outside of the UK without incurring a transaction fee
Check the foreign conversion rate at the ATM and remember that some machines will charge a local transaction fee
If you’re given the option to pay for a withdrawal in your home currency, rather than the local currency, don’t. Sticking with the local currency may help you avoid additional currency conversion charges
If you’re using a credit card, remember that withdrawing money is seen as a cash advance, so you’ll be charged interest on it. You may also incur a cash advance fee
It’s a good idea to tell your card provider you’re travelling abroad – this may stop your card being blocked due to ‘unusual transactions’
A prepaid currency or travel card, such as our Sainsbury's Bank Multi-currency Cash Passport™ Mastercard®, can also be used to carry currency abroad. Its chip and PIN protected and there is no direct link to your bank account, so you can travel with confidence that your spending money is safe.
Load up to 10 foreign currencies on to the prepaid card before you travel and top it up online wherever your journey takes you.
If you need to park your car at the airport, you could find yourself out of pocket. Here are some tips to keep the costs down:
Save money by booking in advance through a comparison website
Usually the cheapest option is a car park located outside the airport grounds. Just make sure you check travel times and find out if the car park provides shuttle buses to the terminal
If you need to stay overnight before you fly, look out for an airport hotel with car parking. This could work out cheaper than booking a car park
Got a long stopover between flights? Or just fancy a relaxing start to your break?
Here are some reasons why you may want to consider using an airport lounge:
Lounges offer unlimited food and drink, newspapers and magazines – providing everything you need to get you in the holiday spirit
Check whether your credit card or bank account offers free access – it may be a benefit you didn’t know about
If you fly regularly, consider getting an annual pass – most of the large hub airports have lounges
You’ll have to pay to access an airport lounge but booking entry in advance, or getting an annual pass, could cut down the cost
If you’re looking to hire a car while you’re on holiday, there’s a lot to bear in mind. Here are some tips to help you get the best car hire deal:
Consider booking in advance – your daily rate will often be much more affordable
Use a comparison website to find the best deal at your chosen airport. Remember to check if booking direct with the hire company works out cheaper
Check whether the deal includes a mileage limit – you may end up paying an additional fee if you go over this
You may be able to buy car insurance directly from the car hire company . Or you can buy a standalone car insurance policy from another provider
Mobile phones and data
We’re all partial to posting a holiday pic on social media these days. And while it’s great to share your holiday snaps with friends and family back home, make sure you keep on top of costs.
Check if you have free roaming in the country you’re visiting. Some mobile phone providers let you use your phone abroad as part of your standard calls, texts and data package
If you don’t have free international roaming, consider a roaming package. Your phone provider might offer a good rate if you pre-purchase calls, texts and data
Turn off data roaming when you aren’t using it – many apps use data even when you’re not actively using them
Use a mapping app that allows you to download maps in advance to use offline
Consider using messaging apps that work over wifi, like Skype, FaceTime or WhatsApp – it’s often cheaper than sending texts or making phone calls
Protect yourself and your booking
ATOL and ABTA
If possible, make sure your holiday’s covered by ATOL or ABTA. These financial protection schemes can help you get your money back if your travel company goes into insolvency.
You can find out more about ATOL protection in our guide to dealing with flight disruption.
No holiday planning checklist is complete without proper protection.
Wherever your journey takes you, travel insurance helps to cover emergency medical expenses, lost or damaged items and more.
Check out our flexible travel insurance policies to find the best cover for you.
Sainsbury’s Bank Travel Insurance is underwritten by Great Lakes Insurance SE.
Before you head off on your travels, find out if you need any vaccinations. The NHS Fit for Travel website is packed with health information and advice for travellers.
If you’re travelling with a medical condition, the NHS has advice on taking medicine abroad. You may also want to think about translating your medical details into the language of the country you’re travelling to.
Guides for travelling abroad
Our handy travel guides will provide you with top tips when travelling abroad.
Getting married abroad
Tying the knot abroad can make your wedding day even more special – and save you money
How to plan solo travel
Going it alone? Our guide is full of useful hints and tips to make the most of your solo trip
Flying with children
Take a look at our guide for tips for a stress free flight when flying with little ones
Time to order travel money?
Get a great exchange rate and 0% commission on all foreign currencies. Use our travel money calculator to quickly convert your pounds into more than 50 currencies. Simple.
Sainsbury's Bank Multi-currency Cash Passport™ Mastercard® is issued by PrePay Technologies Limited pursuant to license by Mastercard International. PrePay Technologies Limited is authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority under the Electronic Money Regulations 2011 (FRN: 900010) for the issuing of electronic money and payment instruments. Mastercard is a registered trademark, and the circles design is a trademark of Mastercard International Incorporated.