1-minute guide to Bargain Holidays


Bargain Holidays

Booking your holiday does not have to break the bank!  There are bargains to be had if you know where to look and how to book!

Online comparison sites will help you save as much as 50% on flights and accommodation

Start looking early if you’re putting together your own holiday but leave it MUCH later if you’re looking at packages

Don’t be tricked into buying ‘extras’

Need to know
  • Planning and budgeting for each day will help you to avoid overspending. And it doesn’t have to be boring, kids love helping to plan family activities
  • Pick  your destination wisely, your money will go MUCH further in countries like Greece and Hungary, and away from capital cities. Tripadvisor has good advice on how much meals, museums and daytrips will cost you in potential destinations
  • If you can be flexible and are planning to go away for 1 week, 2 weeks or 10 days check sites like easyjet Holidays and Expedia for last minute package holidays. These bargains include flights and accommodation and you can get some great deals around a fortnight before you want to head out
  • If you’re thinking of getting a package holiday have a quick look at our haggling tips to make sure you get the best deal
  • Booking your travel at the right time can save you as much as 92% on your train, plane and coach costs. Check out our guide to booking cheap travel
  • Using an airmile credit card all year around can help you get free flights or free upgrades
  • Make sure any package holidays are ATOL protected, so you don’t lose your money if the tour operator goes bust
  • Using your mobile abroad can be REALLY expensive. If you can, simply leave it switched off after your flight out. If not, we’ve got the best options the networks offer for using your phone abroad
  • Don’t leave your travel money to the last minute. You can exchange currency with 0% commission at the Post Office and there are other great options like loading a pre-paid card from FairFX or taking the best credit card for overseas spending
  • Travel insurance seems like an added expense but can cost as little as £5 and  will save you a FORTUNE if something does go wrong. You also need a EHIC (European Health Insurance Card) for each member of your family which will entitle you to the same healthcare as a local (ie. free or subsidised). You can get one FOR FREE from the NHS
  • One in ten people are STILL paying off a holiday from last year which they put on their credit card. If you’re trying to get back in the black maybe consider a staycation with free days out
  • If you are going to pay for your hols with a credit card, a purchase credit card will give you an interest free period to pay, or a reward credit card will give you points or cashback on your spending
  • Look out for packages that add extras like transfers and push up the original price. You can get MUCH cheaper transfers if you book them independently on sites like resorthoppa.com 

Some sneaky tricks to save you cash!

  • Consider flying indirect – it may take longer but you can make huge savings and try mixing and matching by flying out with one airline and back with another as it can work out miles cheaper
  • Flights can change price between five and fifteen different times during its shelf life with the cheapest usually being when it first goes on sale, well in advance. However, if the flight still has LOADS of space close to departure date, you will find companies slashing the price just to get people on board.
  • Flying midweek will usually save cash as most people book their holidays Saturday to Saturday
  • Call the hotel direct and haggle. Some of the online booking sites are not in sync with the hotel so you could find cheaper deals if you speak to the reservations team in person.
  • For accommodation, mid-week bookings will always be cheaper but if you do need to travel at the weekend, a more formal business hotel will have better availability so the chance of discounted rooms is higher.
  • When you book, go for the cheapest room that you’d be comfortable in and then try and haggle to get an upgrade when you check-in.

Save on Flights

If you’re going to put together your holiday yourself you MUST compare the prices of flights to get the best deal.


Why we like it:

  • will compare flights to find you the cheapest deal
  • also compares hotels and car hire
  • very quick
  • brilliiant app available
  • sign up for price alerts as price change on your favourite route
  • free to use

Watch out:

  • airlines may charge additional fees for luggage, check-in and similar

Save on Accommodation

A hotel is not your only option (although we do have some great deals on our guide) Depending on your circumstances a self-catered apartment, a hostel, someone’s sofa or even a home swap could provide a much cheaper option. But if you are looking for a hotel make sure you get a last minute bargain.

Love Home Swap

Why we like it:

  • Very simple easy to use website
  • easy to check references
  • swap homes with 50,000+ other members in 150+ countries
  • list your house for free
  • free 14 day membership trial
  • can now rent out your home as well
  • swap points mean you don’t need to do a straight swap

Watch out:

  • from £12 a month after free trial
  • have to communicate through the site, won’t let you swap email addresses
Hotel Exclusives

Why we like it:

  • Exclusive hotel offers – members only
  • save up to 75%
  • search by flash offers, with kids, destination, holiday deals
  • great for affordable 4 star luxury
  • fantastic for selection of UK hotels
  • great savings in a ‘Daily Deal’
  • worldwide search

Why we like it:

  • search for cheap last minute hotel deals
  • search hotel by destination
  • also displays hostels
  • gives tripadvisor rating alongside price
  • price shown includes all prices and fees

Watch out:

  • you may still be able to get the hotel cheaper if you call direct

Why we like it:

  • rent out people’s homes and apartments
  • can be cheaper than a hotel
  • family homes/ apartments are available

Watch out:

  • Limited last minute as you’re often in someone’s home
Home Exchange

Why we like it:

  • Search 65,000+ homes in over 150 countries
  • 14 day free trial
  • Lots of houses of all shapes and sizes
  • Guaranteed exchange in your first year

Watch out:

  • Prices start from £5.95 per month after trial
  • site not as user friendly as others

Why we like it:

  • find a couch to stay on FOR FREE in 200,000 cities
  • great for solo travelers
  • spare beds and air mattresses also on offer
  • hosts never charge and surfers should not offer to pay

Watch out:

  • There is an optional verification fee
  • the site makes every effort to keep couch surfing safe BUT you should still use common sense
  • not good for families or privacy

Save on Packages

Going online is the quickest way to compare the bargains BUT you may be able to save EVEN MORE if you take your internet findings and use them to haggle. Follow these simple steps:

1. Find your perfect holiday online or in a brochure, note the flight details, the tour operator (Thompson, easyjet holiays etc) and the hotel name

2. Call a travel agent (any travel agent) tell them your quote and see if they can beat it

3. Try a couple more travel agents to see if they can do better

4. Call the tour operator directly, they should, in theory, be able to give you the best offer

5. Before you book check direct with the hotel and pair that with the cheapest budget flight

You can see how Sarah saved £1,151 on a Family holiday when she was set the holiday haggle challenge on This Morning

Teletext Holidays

Why we like it:

  • Deals for all inclusive holidays, couple holidays, summer holidays, city reaks and weekends away
  • Guides on destinations

Watch out:

  • Bookings cannot be made online
EasyJet Holidays

Why we like it:

  • Wide range of holidays from beach, city and mountain
  • Price match guarantee
  • ATOL protected

Watch out:

  • Elements of package price update every 15 minutes therefore price may change during the booking process

The inside track

  • If you’re going abroad your baby will need their own passport.  You will need two identical colour photos (one signed by a professional) and documents proving you, your partner and your baby are British (birth certificate, passports). You can find the application form at the Post Office, the basic cost is £46 and it can take up to 3 weeks to come through although you can fast track it for an extra cost. PLUS check out Flying With a Baby which has LOADS of great advice on taking your child on a flight
  • You can check out Sarah’s tips on how to take the stress out of travelling with small children HERE
  •  ALWAYS book airport parking in advance.  If you would rather park at the airport, try the Airport Parking ShopLooking4Parking or SkyparkSecure and look for hotel plus parking deals as this can be cheaper (and great for early flights).  Sometimes a taxi both ways is more cost effective and don’t ignore Meet and Greet – it is SO easy and is often very competitive
  • Compare and book your car hire before you arrive on a site like Expedia. And don’t forget the extras, for example hiring a baby car seat will often increase the cost of the rental by around £5 extra day, it may be cheaper for you to take your own with you
  • The airlines all have slightly different rules about buying seats for children and how much equipment you can bring onboard without being charged. Easyjet, for example will charge you full price for a seat for your child, let them sit on your lap (up to the age of 2) for £20 and let you bring 2 pieces of equipment on board for free (pushchair, travel cot, car seat)
  • Couriering your luggage is often cheaper than paying for luggage on a budget airline.  sendmybag offer to courier up to 30kgs for as little as £15.89
  • Know before you go is a great government site which has advice on staying safe and  healthy when you go overseas
  • And don’t forget to budget for the following: airport transfer charges; over weight luggage; liquids at departures; hotel stays near the airport for early flights and passport renewal
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Sarah Willingham
Sarah Willingham is a serial entrepreneur, business investor and leading consumer expert. She has received a number of accolades for her contribution to business including The Sunday Times 500 Most Influential People in Britain 2016, The Times 35 Most Successful Women Under 35, Business Weekly’s Young Entrepreneur of the Year, Courvoisier Top 500 and an entry into the Who’s Who of British Business Leaders. She holds three business degrees including an MBA from Cranfield School of Management, where she is also an advisory board member.