There’s one thing people say to me a lot . . . and it’s not “Oh look, Paula’s drunk again” (at least, not to my face anyway).
It’s actually “you’re always on holiday”.
Now, although that’s technically not true, and I do resent people saying it, I do go on holiday quite a lot. I’ve been on three sunshine holidays this year as well as numerous trips around Scotland . . . and most of it I’ve managed to do relatively cheaply. So I thought I’d take the opportunity to impart some of my wisdom.
Okay, some of it is common sense or pretty obvious . . . but hopefully it’ll still come in handy!
- First off, for UK holidays, booking.com is my friend. If I fancy a wee night away, I usually just plug in my dates, choose a part of Scotland and then hit search. There’s often decent deals that pop up on nice hotels, and if all else fails I just order them low to high and go through them until I find somewhere I like the look of. (They do a good wee referral programme too so if you book using my link we both make £20!
- Voucher deals are also a good way of finding a nice hotel deal, sometimes you can even get dinner included for a great price. Things to watch out for? You’re often going to have to pay a supplement for weekends, which can instantly add additional money on to your “great deal”. And make sure you have a couple of days of leeway in case the hotel can’t accommodate you on the day you want. I find 5pm.co.uk and itison are best for these sort of deals so I check them often.
- Also with a wee UK deal, you’re going to have to remember to factor in petrol costs. I always forget about that.. Or train/bus costs. Unless you want to walk there of course – feel free to do so if you want, not my bag though as you probably know!
- Looking for a sunny holiday? I have three companies I turn to – Jet2, Thomson (or TUI as it’s now called) and Thomas Cook. I prefer a package holiday, I can't be dealing with booking the different bits and pieces independently. (If that's what you were looking for, sorry! I can't help you, I'm afraid.)
- When I’m looking for a holiday, I try to take time off where I can afford to be a bit more flexible. So if I’m wanting a week long holiday I will take a week and a half off work, or if I want a ten day holiday I’ll take two weeks off. (I can always cancel part of the time off I’ve requested later once I actually have the holiday booked. More often than not, I don’t though.) This means I can look at different dates and have a bigger selection of destinations to choose from.
- I try not to go for school holidays since the price does shoot up. Obviously if you’re a teacher, have kids of school age or work in a school in some other capacity this tip will not help you, and for that I apologise. (I really am sorry. Overpriced school holidays are the worst and travel companies are mean.)
- If possible, I’ll search the dates I’m looking for, from my local airport (Glasgow) with no destination and see what options I have once I order the holidays from low to high. I’ll also try other airports, usually just Edinburgh, to see if there are any better deals. I tend not to look further afield as then I have to factor in the additional cost of travel to another airport. This gives me a good idea of what destinations are available and the range of price.
- Jet2 are my favourite. They have a wide range of deals, destinations and I feel like their holidays are a bit more flexible in terms of duration. For example, me and the fella went to Lanzarote with them earlier this year for 11 nights for just over 400 pounds each. A ridiculously random amount of time (amazing though!), but we got a really good deal on it. And you get a ridiculously high luggage allowance. My only bugbear with them is that you can’t leave the destination field blank so you have to go through and do an individual search on all the destinations you fancy. This is immensely annoying - get it sorted, Jet2!!!
- If you opt for a Thomas Cook holiday, bear in mind that the deal might not be as good as it initially looks. I think they sometimes use different companies, like Easyjet or Flexible Trips, so you might find that the brilliant deal isn’t including putting luggage in the hold, or a transfer. You might not necessarily need these, granted . . . but I do.
- I'm not a massive fan of the all-inclusive deal but give it a chance - you may pay more upfront but you'll be saving yourself money once you get there.
- On that note too, if you are going self-catering, try and make sure you get somewhere with kitchen facilities. It's good to have a fridge, for a start (that bottle of cava won't keep itself cool, y'know!) and it means you can at least pretend you might be eating in and saving money sometimes. I've stayed in a couple of places with no kitchen facilities and its a bit frustrating. (I one also stayed somewhere that did have kitchen facilities but no cups in any form and the first night I had to drink my wine out of a small pot . . .but that's another story.)
- Be sure to clear your cookies often if you're doing frequent searches for holidays. I don't really how much of an impact this has, but I've definitely had times when I've been looking at a certain holiday twice in one day and the price has shot up . . . when I have cleared my cookies and searched again it's went back to the original price so there definitely seems to be some truth in the whole theory.
- Consider flying out on Friday 13th. Honestly. I discovered last year that holidays are cheaper if you have to fly on that date. Frustratingly, there's not been a suitable Friday 13th since I made that correlation.
Hopefully some of these little tips might help you - as I said, a lot of it is common sense and isn't really a massive secret. I would say this though - it's rare a cheap holiday bargain will just fall in your lap and I do spend a lot of time looking for holidays online. That being said, very occasionally, you could have been looking for ages for a good holiday bargain and one day a great deal will just pop up during your search.
And when that happens, it's the best.