The insider tips to help you bag a cheaper holiday

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Amy Swales
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You might know where you want to go (according to season or month or levels of hipness), what to pack in your hand luggage and what to see when you get there, but there’s food to be eaten and drinks to be supped and friends, those things require cash.

And while we know there are certain days of the week when average flight prices are lower, travel experts tell us there are several ways to make your preferred holiday as cheap as possible.

Where other holiday tricks can be vague, advising you “shop around” (well, yes) or juggle 12 card balances to get 1% cashback six months from now, we’re got specifics from the seasoned bargain hunters at Travelzoo. So scroll through the list below for 10 useful insider tips on reducing holiday spend.

10 ways to bag a bargain holiday

1. Book your flight 56 days in advance to get the best fare

Maximise your chances of getting the very best price for your preferred holiday by booking 56 days ahead. Studies have shown that this is the optimal moment for bagging that flight. You could save up to 28% on regular prices.

2. Book your cruise 12 weeks in advance

This is when unsold cabins get classified as “distressed stock” and cruise lines start to think about pushing more aggressive discounts. And remember to monitor the price after booking – depending on the terms and conditions of your booking, you might be able to claim money back or get extra added value if the cruise fare drops after you’ve booked.

3. Always opt to pay in local currency

You’re about to pay for dinner, you hand your card over and the waiter asks whether you’d like to pay in local currency or sterling. If you’re like most people, you won’t know which option to choose. Here’s the answer: always pay in local currency. If you don’t, you’ll be paying 5% extra for what’s called a “dynamic currency conversion”.

4. Looking for a city break? Fly in January and arrive on Sunday

January is one of our favourite times to take a city break. Traditionally, this is when airlines cut prices most aggressively, meaning you can save a bunch on a trip to somewhere you’ve never been before. To save even more on top, aim to arrive on a Sunday when hotel rates are usually at their lowest. 

5. Dodge school holiday rip-offs using this flight trick

We all know prices go bananas during school holidays. One way to beat the system is by using Easyjet’s Flexifare trick. Here’s how it works: 1) You book your chosen flight (opting for a Flexifare), but select dates a few weeks outside of those you actually want to travel on. 2) Wait 24 hours and then switch to the dates you really want without paying extra. You’ll pay a premium for the Flexifare, but nowhere near the price hike you’d pay for booking a flight during school holidays.

6. Pay for your holiday by renting your home

It’s surprisingly easy. Imagine having a large part of your holiday paid for, without having to work any overtime or sell the family silver. Simply sign up to a service like Holiday Lettings or Airbnb to rent out your room or home, and let the readies roll in while you’re sunning yourself on the beach.

7. Book a holiday when all you need is the flight

If your go-to booking strategy is to always book flights and accommodation separately, don't automatically overlook package trips – they can often be cheaper than the flight alone (and you can always use the money saved for a couple of nights in a posh hotel at the end). For example, a recent Travelzoo deal on 10 nights in Malaysia with flights and 4-star accommodation was £489; flights alone were more expensive elsewhere.

8. Swap your credit card for something new

The Revolut Card works alongside an app. There are no fees to use it anywhere in the world, no ATM fees on withdrawals up to $200 and as soon as you spend on it you get a notification via the app. It beats most other travel cards because the conversion matches that day’s Interbank rates. The Travelex Supercard is also a great choice.

9. Buy car rental cover in the UK

Decision time: 20€ a day for the full cover once you arrive at the destination? Or annual cover from £39.99? Companies such as and specialise in this kind of thing.

10. Layover to save money

Even though a non-stop flight is ideal, you can sometimes save by stretching your legs during a plane change. Some airlines, like Icelandair, also offer free stopovers – meaning you can extend your stay in the layover city and make it part of your vacation. And Turkish Airlines run free city tours for anyone with a stopover of 7-10 hours.

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Images: iStock


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Amy Swales

Amy Swales is a freelance writer who likes to eat, drink and talk about her dog. She will continue to plunder her own life and the lives of her loved ones for material in the name of comedy, catharsis and getting pictures of her dog on the internet.