Paying for a family holiday is probably one of the biggest single expenditures you’ll make all year. According to an Experian survey, more than one in four Brits chose not to have a foreign holiday in 2011 due to finances being tight. But if you have your heart set on escaping overseas, you don’t need to break the bank – it’s just a question of knowing what, when and how.
Are early bargains or late deals best?
This depends on what type of holiday you want, and how flexible you’re willing and able to be. The easiest way to save money on a summer holiday is by travelling outside of school holiday time, but this isn’t always possible for families.
Most of the big holiday companies offer early bird deals. You can usually start looking around a year and a half in advance and if you book right away, many will offer around £150 off or free child spaces. You’ll also be able to pay in instalments.
There will be other sales throughout the year where you could find free upgrades from half to full-board, low deposit offers and family discounts. Companies like BA, Virgin Atlantic and Virgin Holidays have waves of sales so it’s worth keeping an eye on them.
If you’re going through a travel agent, the longer you wait the cheaper the holiday will be as the agent will have pre-bought a number of holidays and will need to sell them. If you see a similar holiday for cheaper online, tell them. You never know, they may be able to match or better the deal.
It’s always tempting to look straight at the cheapest deals on the page but it makes sense to do some sums to see whether you’d actually be saving a considerable amount of money by spending a little more upfront.
According to research, more than half of us overspend on holiday, and have usually blown our budgets by day four of a seven-day trip. Eating out can be pricey, as can the endless ice creams and cool drinks you’ll be buying. If you go all-inclusive, those things could be in limitless supply.
Don’t want a package deal?
According to Trailfinders, if you’re organising all the travel and accommodation yourself it’s best to book your flights 11 months before you travel, when details have just been released and lots of cheap seats will be available.
Budget airlines often still have cheap deals in the weeks before departure though, but the trouble with leaving flights until the last minute is it makes booking accommodation trickier.
You can find hotel offers last minute, which is great for single travellers or couples but riskier for families. You don’t want to wait too long only to find that convenient hotels which suit your family’s needs are all fully booked.