Jun 6, 2013

Posted by in Features, Money Saving Tips, Trip Advice | 1 Comment

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How to find a last-minute holiday deal

If you’ve not booked your main summer holiday yet, you’re not alone. In fact, a recent poll on MoneySupermarket revealed that 56% of our readers are still waiting to secure their spot on the beach this summer.

But if you’re looking for a great deal to tempt you into booking, how do you find it? And how do you prevent being stung by any unexpected costs that could turn your last-minute bargain into a blowout?

Follow our tips below to find a great deal this summer…

Find a last-minute summer deal

Be flexible

To enjoy the best choice of deals, be as flexible as you can when it comes to the date, day and time you are travelling. Travelling mid-week can be significantly cheaper than at the weekend, while you’ve got a better chance of bagging a bargain if you can avoid going away during peak travel periods such as the school summer holidays.

And, if you’re willing to travel when no-one else wants to – for example first thing in the morning or last thing at night – you’ll probably be rewarded with lower prices.

If you are within a reasonable distance from more than one airport, be flexible on your departure point too – but beware false economies such as travelling to an airport miles away and spending a lot getting there to save a pound or two on a flight.

If you can’t be flexible, book now

If you’re going away as a family and have to travel during the peak school holidays, you stand the best chance of finding a bargain the earlier you book. As the summer holidays edge nearer, many parents will panic and book a trip meaning that demand can outstrip supply and prices tend to increase. And, as you’re likely to have more specific needs than, say, a couple – for example, looking for interconnecting rooms or a hotel with a respected kids’ club – the sooner you start your research, the more likely you are to find a holiday that matches your needs.

Visit sales and sign up for alerts

Sifting through deals on numerous websites and trawling the internet looking for an offer can seem like an overwhelming task, so keep an eye out for sales and sign up to companies’ emails so you are among the first to hear about deals and can see them in one place.

TravelSupermarket has just launched El Sale Grande where you can compare all the major holiday deals in one place. So, save yourself some time and hard work by visiting the sale today. But hurry, it ends on June 30.

Compare different trip lengths

If you’re having no luck finding a brilliant seven-night deal, compare the price of different trip lengths as extending your holiday to 10 or even 14 days may not be significantly more expensive and so could work out better value for money.

Consider all board types…

Don’t assume that one board type will always be the cheapest option as both self-catering and all-inclusive holidays have their own cost-saving merits.

For example, all-inclusive breaks can be a great option for those who like to budget for the bulk of their trip before they even leave their house, while self-catering trips are perfect for travellers who like to make their own schedules and save money by buying in all of their own food and drink. So compare both options side-by-side to work out which is the cheapest option for you.

To help you decide, read our recent blog post ‘Holidays: All-inclusive versus self-catering’.

While you are making this decision, don’t forget to consider how much it will cost to self-cater in the destination you have in mind as certain destinations will be a lot more expensive than others. The Post Office recently compared the prices of self-catering in a number of popular holiday destinations in their ‘Self-catering on a shoestring’ report and revealed that Costa Blanca was the cheapest place on this board type with a basket of popular supermarket goodies coming to £48.70.

The same items were significantly more in other destinations, including Cyprus, where the basket cost £97.28.

…and compare the price of DIY trips against packages

And, when you’ve found a deal you’re happy with, make sure it’s the best one available by quickly comparing the price of both package holidays and booking your flights and accommodation separately – you may be surprised which is the most cost-effective.

Use a price-comparison site

So you can enjoy the peace of mind that the price you’ve found is the most competitive out there, use a price-comparison site, such as TravelSupermarket, to compare holidays from all of the major companies in one place. And, at the moment, take a look at our sale to choose from a huge selection of deals.

Think differently

If you can’t find deals in the destinations you know and love, why not consider somewhere new this year? Ask friends and family who know you well for recommendations or ask any connections you trust on social media – you never know, you may discover your new favourite place for a snip of the price of your trusty favourite.

If you’re in need of some inspiration, take a look at our travel expert Bob Atkinson’s list of the top 10 destinations for 2013.

But do your research

While trying somewhere new can both introduce you to parts of the world you may never have considered and save you money, if you’ve never heard of your destination or the hotel chain you’re booking with, it pays to do a little research to make sure the deal you’ve found isn’t too good to be true.

Take a look at online hotel review sites, do some research into the weather (certain places may be too hot for young children in summer), and check what’s available in the resort you’re visiting – you don’t want to end up staying in a party destination with small children – or in a quiet destination if you’re after a party.

How to prevent going over your budget

Finding a great deal can be satisfying so, to prevent any costly mistakes overshadowing your achievement, make sure you:

  • Budget for all of the holiday extras you will need – such as car hire, travel money, airport parking and travel insurance – and add these costs to your trip price so you have a realistic idea on how much you will spend in total.
  • Avoid being stung by any airline charges such as luggage or admin fees. Read more on this here.
  • Check the cost of living in the destination you plan to travel to. You don’t want to end up spending more than you can afford while you are away.
  • Take a look at our last-minute checklist and check out a host of other helpful last-minute holiday tips and advice on our late deals page.
  1. Robert Long says:

    I so much regret that I can no longer afford a holiday in the Summer, now that I have lost my wife, I am treated like some sort of a ‘leper’, surcharges rule out any type of summer holiday for the single traveller, and please do not tell me that there are companies that cater for us, they don’t, their surcharges are already built into their quotes and they appear to act as ‘dating agencies’ more so than holiday companies !

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