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.
Economy class: one item of hand luggage with a maximum size of 5 x 35 x 25cm, plus one handbag or laptop bag with a maximum size of 40 x 30 x 15 cm. Your hand baggage can have a combined weight of up to 12kg
Premium Comfort class: two items of hand luggage with a maximum size of 5 x 35 x 25cm, plus one handbag or laptop bag with a maximum size of 40 x 30 x 15 cm. Your hand baggage can have a combined weight of up to 12kg
Business class: two items of hand luggage with a maximum size of 5 x 35 x 25cm, plus one handbag or laptop bag with a maximum size of 40 x 30 x 15 cm. Your hand baggage can have a combined weight of up to 18kg
Light ticket: no checked bags allowed
Economy class: one bag up to 23kg (max 158cm)
Premium Comfort class (standard or flex ticket): two bags up to 23kg (max 158cm)
Business class (standard or flex ticket): two bags up to 32kg (max 158cm) each
Buisness class (light ticket) one bag up to 32kg (max 158cm)
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 Travel Money Card™ 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 15 foreign currencies on to the prepaid card before you travel and top it up online wherever your journey takes you.
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 Travel Money Card™ 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.