Budget Holidays – How I do it :)
Budget holidays as I see it.
I’m being asked many questions and want to try and answer them all as much as I can, feel free to add your own thoughts and opinions to this thread and together we can all have happy holidays 🙂
It’s been so long now that I have been putting together my own holidays that I can’t actually remember the last time I used a travel agent! With the joy of the internet, holidays have become a luxury that more people can afford. For the same cost as a week in Pontins you can get yourself a little family break in mainland Spain. Ok ok there are many gripes about these budget airlines and cheap hotels but if you’re booking a budget caravan at Haven take a look at what you’re getting!
I work, my husband works and as a family we lead really busy lifestyles, so its important to us to snap the odd week away (even if that does mean taking the kids out of school for a few days) as a family. Very soon my kids are going to be reaching an age when they want me to find them cheap deals to Ibiza as opposed to coming to the water parks with me and Dad and I fully intend to make the most of that. That said, I have always tried to make our holidays co-ordinate with the school holidays. We travel for 9 or 10 days, maybe a few days before half term or returning a few days after. This means we save a packet on flights (hundreds of pounds) and only 2-3 days holiday need to be taken from school.
I know that a lot of you out there already know how to work the system, but there are many of you who do not and I’m hoping that by sharing what I know, more of you can take advantage. If you are someone in the know and reading this, feel free to share anything else you feel may be helpful 🙂
Always look for your flight first. This is the key as more often than not, this is the bulk of your holiday price. It can also be swings and roundabouts with flights and accommodation. For example, flights to Reus (Costa Dorada, Salou, Cambrils etc) come up as one of the cheapest options. However, the accommodation costs a bit more than it would in say Majorca. It seems to be the more you pay for your flight the cheaper the accommodation but this is not always the case. Be careful with Barcelona flights by the way. Sometimes you can be defaulted to a flight to Barcelona for holidays to Costa Dorada or Costa Brava as the flights are cheaper, this doesn’t usually work out beneficial though as the transfers cost a lot more and boost the overall holiday cost.
Flights to Girona (Costa Brava) are also one of the cheapest flights that come up. The accommodation is also cheap out here in resorts such as Lloret de Mar, Tossa de Mar, Malgrat, Callella and Santa Susana which are especially good for all inclusive deals. You will probably find that the hotels are rated much lower in these resorts though. I’ve been many a time and had some lovely family holidays in these places but if I’d booked through a travel agent paying £1,500 plus I’d probably complain too – get my point? Same flight, same hotel etc we pay £150pp all inc, someone else comes along having booked through a travel agent and having paid £300.. you’re gonna grumble right?
Good options for larger families (3 kids plus) would be Ibiza or Majorca. The reason being because there seems to be more apartment style hotels on offer to accommodate you. You can still go all inclusive but you get more space. It seems to be more so with hotels on the mainland, which means anything over 4 people travelling and you’re looking at adjoining rooms making the cost escalate.
I’m a big Ryanair fan, I have flown with them more times than I care to remember. I choose them every time as my preferred airline. Why?? They are CHEAP, CHEAP, CHEAP. I find them to be reliable, to run quickly and swiftly with pleasant staff and I find their booking and checking-in process incredibly easy. So, why pay more? Go direct to their website and check out prices from your preferred airports. Never go by the sales figure stated on their home page, as it rarely comes up with that. Sometimes it’s even less! Be sure to also click the “flexible” option, as more often than not, flights for 8, 9, 10 days etc come in at a lot less than flying for 7 days.
The first rule is to be as flexible as possible. Its no good saying “I want to go on the 1st – 7th” you will go bananas trying to find an exact deal at rock bottom prices.
Also, check out the Easyjet website for cheap flights. Sometimes (albeit rarely) they do come in slightly cheaper than Ryanair and whilst we are on Easyjet, make sure you make yourself familiar with their holiday website “easyjet holidays”. I would warn you to be careful with this though as sometimes they put together hotels and flights that are hundreds of miles apart!
Compare flight prices using flight comparison sites such as skyscanner to see where the cheapest flights are going to around the dates you want to travel.
Once you have that all important flight you now need to start looking at accommodation. You need to think ahead at this point to transfer time. Remember….. the further away from the airport you are, the more expensive that transfer will be. For example, if you are flying to Palma, Gran Canaria, you will probably see that the accommodation comes up cheaper for Puerto Rico, but when you go to complete your booking at the end the transfer costs more as its further away from the airport. By paying a little more for a hotel in Playa del Ingles you will be making savings on your transfer, making the total price lower. How I do this is by google mapping the airport and then looking to see which resorts are closest 🙂
Ok, so now we have our flight and preferred resort, I would then pop over to Travel Republic. The reason for this is that it’s quick and easy to use. Put in the dates etc and browse through the hotels that come up on offer. Note that when you get to the accommodation section, it will default like many of the sites to “our recommendations”. Drop down the sort menu to “cheapest first”. Choose a hotel and then add on your luggage and transfers. This gives you your total price. Now at this point I’m still not happy… oh no!! Now it’s time to price compare. Get googling, price compare, try other sites such as Alpharooms (used in the past with no problem, in fact my hotel last year came up hundreds cheaper than Travel Republic so it can pay enormously to shop around!). Check out other transfer companies too, I always go via Quidco for this to earn a bit of cashback and more often than not end up using Resort Hoppa.
Great savings can be made on your luggage. Think about what you really need to take on holiday. When travelling as a family of four, we rarely pay for more than 1 case (we paid for 2 when we went to Tenerife for 2 weeks). Every traveller gets 10kg take on hand luggage bag. Why pay £30-£70 for an extra 5kg? (checked in bags vary in weight – 15kg with Ryanair and 20kg with Easyjet). Make the most of the 10kg hand luggage. This is a small trolley case and you will be surprised at what you can fit in. Its always worth having at least one checked in case so you can put in your liquids, such as shampoo and sun creams and heavier items like shoes and hair straighteners (essentials of course!!). Your lotions and potions will be used whilst you’re away making room for presents or tobacco that you’re bringing back 😝. Remember, you can’t take your big liquids on the plane too. If you are only taking hand luggage an option is to buy it in the terminal once you have gone through security from boots or just buy it when you’re out there, but airports are notoriously expensive and you never know what you can buy in resort until you get there.
Buy the perfect suitcases for budget holidays. I got a great four piece set off ebay for around £60, its lightweight and consists of one suitcase perfect for 15kg packing and 3 smaller cases that meet the checked in bags requirements.
Make sure you check out cashback sites for airport parking. They are a great way to do price comparisons and the prices aren’t as high as you might think they would be. We used to pay someone £20 to drop us off and pick us up. Nowadays, that seems offensive as it would cost more than that in petrol for them to do the four trips backwards and forwards and the airport parking doesn’t cost much more, plus its quick, easy and lovely to have your car waiting for you with your coats sitting in the boot 🙂
I hope you have found this post informative and interesting. If you have any of your own hints and tips please do share. We are all in this together 🙂 Happy holidays xxx