How to plan your holidays around the Olympics

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olympicsWhile the greatest show on earth is set to take over London in July and August, many of us would rather avoid the Olympics altogether. But with some advance planning and careful working of the budget you could be on holiday when the Games begin.

Grab a cheap getaway

If you’re not reliant on school holidays, take a break in May or June next year when cheap holiday deals outside peak summer months are on offer. Greece, Italy and Portugal will be the cheapest destinations in Europe in 2012, due to the economic problems raging in the Eurozone.

Hotels in Greece are set to reduce their rates, and deals are being struck with tour operators which could make it 20% cheaper, according to the Association of Independent Tour Operators (AITO). All three countries are less than a four-hour flight from the UK and offer plenty of self-catering options as well as cheap, family-friendly restaurants.

Fly local

If you have to travel through the summer holidays, try and fly from your local airport. Parking is usually cheaper, there’ll be fewer crowds and they might be easier to get to. Take your own drinks and games to avoid paying airport prices.

For those who have no other option than Gatwick or Heathrow, book flights that leave early so you won’t get caught in delays, and ditch the car for public transport instead.

Staycations

If you are planning a holiday in July or August in the UK, steer clear of London unless you want to savour the international party atmosphere (and the inflated prices). You might also want to avoid Weymouth and Portland, where the sailing events are taking place.

Instead, why not head to Wales and Scotland – they’re about as far from London as you can get in Britain and both offer lots of cheap accommodation options, including self-catering, camping and budget B&Bs. Visit Britain has great holiday ideas.

If you can’t beat ’em…

Join in the fun of the Olympics in London the cheap way. If you missed out on tickets, you can still watch the marathon, triathlon and road cycling for free and there will be three big “Live Sites” around the capital (Hyde Park, Victoria Park and Potters Fields by Tower Bridge) hosting activities and screening the Olympics action. Visit London has all the details.

The Cultural Olympiad will include hundreds of free events and exhibitions, and the National Olympic Houses, such as Casa de Brazil at Somerset House, are cheap ways to savour cuisine and culture from competing countries.

Those with tickets to the Games will have free transport in London on the day of their event. Many venues other than the Olympic Stadium are within walking distance of train stations or a Barclays bike-ride ahead. Plan ahead to avoid busy commuter times.