Money Wellness
Illustrated image of two deck chairs on a beach. Top tips for saving money on your summer holiday bookings. Cheap summer holidays
category iconmoney saver
calendar icon11 Jun 2024

Top tips for saving money on your summer holiday bookings

Gone are the days of bargain breaks in the sun.  For most, a family holiday will be their biggest spend of the year.

It’s estimated that last year the average British family of four spent £4,678 on a 9-day beach break. With rising living costs, this figure is out of reach for millions of people.

But there are ways to find affordable holiday deals (even during the peak summer season) so long as you’re savvy, flexible and prepared to do some leg work.

Here are our top tips to help you take off to sunnier climates this summer.

Look ahead to next year and book early

While it’s too late to make early bird savings on holidays this year, it’s worth looking to 2025 for money money-saving offers.

Many travel companies offer discounts and special promotions for those who book their holidays well in advance. By securing your booking early, you can take advantage of these deals and potentially save a lot of money.

Keep an eye out for flash sales and limited-time offers from airlines, hotels, and tour operators. These promotions offer great discounts, but they often have short booking windows, so it pays to be vigilant and act quickly when a good deal arises.

Set up price alerts

Holiday and flight prices change all the time. Use tools such as Kayak, Skyscanner and Google Flights to set up price alerts.

Enter where and when you want to go, and the tools will automatically update you when the price drops or deals become available that might suit you. Just make sure you buy when the price is right for you.

Make the most of other people’s bookings

Thousands of people find themselves unable to go on pre-booked holidays every year. Some due to sickness, others because more important plans have cropped up, or they can no longer afford to go. Check out websites such as Transfer Travel where people resell their unusable travel plans at a heavily discounted price.

Equally, you can use these sites if you suddenly find yourself with a holiday you can no longer go on to recoup some of the cost.

Be flexible with your travel dates

To pick up the best deals from re-sell holiday sites or to bag a bargain from operators and airlines you need to be flexible. If possible, consider travelling during off-peak periods or shoulder seasons, which are typically cheaper than peak summer months. For example, booking your holiday for late May or early June, or in September after the school holidays, can often result in lower prices.

Additionally, being flexible with your departure and return dates can help you find more affordable options. Prices can vary significantly depending on the day of the week, with midweek flights often being cheaper than weekend departures. Use flight comparison websites to explore different date combinations and find the most cost-effective options.

If you have school-age kids, you will be tied to when you can go away, taking them out of school could lead to fines. From August 2024, this will be £80 if paid within 21 days for both parents, increasing to £160.

Alternatively, see if flying from Scotland reduces the price of your holiday. Scottish schools have slightly different term times to the UK so you can sometimes bag a bargain by heading off over the border.

Compare prices and packages

Don't settle for the first holiday package or deal you come across. Take the time to compare prices and packages from various travel providers to make sure you're getting the best value for your money. Use comparison websites to easily compare offers from different airlines, hotels, and tour operators.

Consider booking your flight, accommodation, and activities separately, as this can sometimes be cheaper. However, be sure to factor in any additional costs, such as transfers and meals, to determine which option provides the best overall value.

Use local and go personal

Travel agents have long-term relationships with operators and might be able to find you a deal that’s not available online. They are also more likely to be able to recommend some ‘hidden gem locations’ that you might not have considered. And can sometimes get extras thrown in such as free transfers and room upgrades or excursions.

Get everything thrown in

An all-inclusive holiday might cost more upfront but will probably save you money in the long run, especially if you have hungry teenage children.

All-inclusive holidays make it much easier to budget as flights, accommodation, transfers, meals, drinks, and entertainment all come as standard. Therefore, you won’t be hit with hidden extras.

Look for accommodation alternatives

Hotels can be expensive, especially during peak summer months. To save money on your holiday bookings, consider alternative accommodation options such as:

  • Rentals or apartments: Renting a self-catered property can be more cost-effective than staying in a hotel, particularly for larger groups or families.
  • Hostels: For solo travellers or those on a tight budget, hostels offer affordable dormitory-style accommodation and the opportunity to meet fellow travellers.
  • Camping or glamping: Embracing the great outdoors through camping or glamping can be a fun and budget-friendly way to enjoy your summer holiday.

Book your hotel directly

Pick up the phone or email and book your hotel directly. Sometimes they offer discounts for guests that aren’t available to travel agents. Even if they don’t have any offers, they might throw in a perk such as a free upgrade, a room with a better view or a bottle of wine.

Consider local and off-the-beaten-path destinations

Popular tourist destinations often come with higher price tags, especially during the summer months. To save money on your holiday bookings, consider exploring local or off-the-beaten-path destinations that may be more affordable and less crowded.

Research lesser-known destinations within your desired country or region, or opt for smaller towns and villages instead of major cities. These hidden gems can offer unique experiences and charm while being gentler on your wallet.

Always pay in local currency

If you’re paying for your hotel locally, you’ll be asked whether you want to pay in their currency or Sterling. Always go for the local currency to avoid paying extra currency conversion charges.

Avatar of Caroline Chell

Caroline Chell

Caroline has worked in financial communications for more than 10 years, writing content on subjects such as pensions, mortgages, loans and credit cards, as well as stockbroking and investment advice.

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