If you’re looking for the perfect family holiday then one thing that will play a part in your decision making process is that of cost.  See, money when it comes to travel is akin to the jet fuel that fuels the plane that takes you from where you are to your final destination - it’s absolutely vital, yet for many people, money is a barrier to finding the perfect family holiday, mostly because family holidays tend to have to take place at the busiest and most expensive times of the year - the school holidays.

In an ideal world, of course, you wouldn’t be going on holiday during the summer break, as this is the most expensive time to travel to popular holiday destinations.  That said, when the alternative is to pull your kids out of school for a week or two, it puts most families in a position where out of necessity they have to travel at peak times.  

Indeed, when you consider the fact that you can get an all inclusive deal to one of the popular Spanish resorts for as little as £179, slightly out of season (e.g. mid-late september) versus the £500+ equivalent, for the same hotel, just at a time when the kids aren’t at school - it shows how punitively priced trips within the summer holidays are, which can be particularly challenging for young parents.

Therefore, if there’s any way that you can travel just slightly outside of the main school holidays then you can save a small fortune.

Failing that, you’re best bet is to hunt out the cheapest deals.  Now, that’s often easier said than done as it can take up a ridiculous amount of time, yet in this post, we’re going to look at some of the best ways to save money on the larger aspects of your trip (such as accommodation, flights and car hire) in order to have more money to spend within the destination.  This way, you’re not exactly “saving money” it’s more that you’ll be getting a lot more value from the trip, meaning you will have a much better time, for the amount you have available to spend.

In essence, you’re saving money on the commodities (e.g. flying) in order to splurge on the fun stuff such as snorkelling with a Ninja Shark in the crystal clear waters of whatever holiday paradise you decide upon.

For som, this post may seem a little late into the summer holidays, but bearing in mind the above point relating to how much cheaper it is to travel just outside the school holidays, and the fact that many families haven’t been able to afford a trip abroad this summer - this post is here to help families looking to save money on a last minute family holiday, or to plan for next year’s holiday.

Flights are a major expense, for most trips, and whilst you can get some fantastic deals with low cost carriers these deals tend to only be available for those with flexible dates - and/or at times which are really inconvenient.

There’s a certain trap people fall into, as well, when it comes to booking cheap flights, in that they may find a really low cost fare, for instance from Glasgow to Majorca for £10 - yet they live in Birmingham, meaning they would have to spend an additional amount of money to travel all the way up to Glasgow in order to take advantage of this cheap fare.

If we break that down, let’s say you get a cheap advance ticket for around £30 and are happy to spend nearly 4 hours on a train up to Glasgow.  Then, there’s the bus from Glasgow train station to the airport that costs around £6 and takes at least half an hour.

We’re now looking at £36 + £10 for the flight, which is still great value, but given the amount of time required to get to Glasgow (particularly if it’s a return flight where you have to do the same all over again) then it offers reasonably low value.  Indeed, the flight for £50 from a nearby airport may end up providing much better value - so start to think in terms of value rather than low cost when it comes to arranging your flights, particularly if they are really early in the morning, or get in to the destination very late at night, as the hassle and exhaustion that tends to come with such trips is rarely worth the slight reduction in price.

Now, on the topic of reducing the price of flights, there’s one tool that everyone needs to be using.  The online tool (and mobile app) is called SkyScanner, and this searches pretty much every airlines ticket prices in order to find you the best deal for the parameters you set; such as the date and destination.

The great thing about SkyScanner is that if you are flexible, then you can start doing some really flexible searches (e.g. flights from Birmingham Airport to EVERYWHERE leaving on 10th September 2018, or even The Month of September).  This way, you can find the very best bargains, and if you are feeling flexible, rather than search from Birmingham, for instance, you could search from the whole of the UK.

Flexibility is your friend when it comes to booking flights as the more flexible you can be, the more options you have to choose from, and obviously some of those options will be significantly cheaper than others.

The challenge, here, however is that most people do have fixed windows to travel - based on time off work, school holidays and other factors of life - but if you are in the fortunate position to have time flexibility, then this tool can help you save a LOT of money.

The other key piece of advice when it comes to flights is to endeavour to book your flights as early as possible, as flight seats are sold in price bands, for instance - the first ten seats might be sold at a promotional fare of £25, then the next 50 seats are sold at £28, with the final 10 seats sold at £185.  

The principle is that the less seats they have left to fill, the higher the price will tend to be, and whilst there are exceptions to this rule and many airlines do sell off their seats in the final few days if the flight is particularly empty - as a practice, it’s rare to find cheap flights a few days before departure.

Hotels and holiday apartments or villas are the preference of most families, though renting out a room in someone’s house or perhaps the entire house via AirBnB is becoming a more and more popular option.  That said, AirBnB can be surprisingly expensive, as in addition to the amount the room is being charged by the host, their are fees on top of that from AirBnB plus occasionally there is an additional cleaning fee, and by the time all these fees have been added on - it could be just as cheap to go to a decent hotel.

In a similar vein to SkyScanner, there’s a site called Travel Supermarket that’s very similar to Money Supermarket in that it compares hotels in a similar format to how such websites compare insurance products.  You can save a lot of money using this website, as unlike online travel agents such as this site is scouring every agency, meaning it will find the lowest prices.

For instance, let’s say you have an interest in staying in the Marriott Hotel in Barcelona; each travel agent will be selling the same room at that hotel for a different price.  This website offers transparency in terms of who is selling the room, and for what rate, meaning you can find the cheapest online travel agent in order to save money.

The reality is that Expedia, for instance might be selling the room for £78 per night, whilst are selling it for £82 and are selling it for just £56.  This tool allows you to see what everyone is selling it for, meaning you don’t have to do the legwork - it’s all done for you in a split second.

The best deals on car hire can often be found on both SkyScanner and Travel Supermarket, as prices are compared by all suppliers - but there’s one thing to be mindful of, which is you need to read the rental conditions of each car rental company, as some will charge a huge deposit (e.g. £1,850) that not everyone will have available on their card; in which case you would turn up to find you can’t hire a car, and potentially you might lose the amount spent already.  

Then, there are several car hire companies that are notorious for charging “damage” after the car is returned, taking money from your account, which may not be as substantiated as they claim.

This is why, sometimes, it can be best to go with a reputable company like Avis or Hertz, who tend to be more expensive in terms of the daily rate, but a lot less hassle and a lot more reliable in terms of “fake damage”.  To offer some context, you can rent with Avis with just a Debit Card (whereas most require a credit card) and a deposit of just £200!

* Collaborative post

No comments