We all have that smart friend who’s off on one cheap package holiday after another, and if your friend won’t reveal his tips on how to get those cheap tickets, we will.
Because just as good travel deals can be found by being exceptionally early, just as good deals – and better – can be found by being spontaneous and flexible. That is, if you know where to look…
Because navigating the discount jungle is no picnic, and there are plenty of pitfalls to be aware of.
Here, we give you travel industry insider tips on how to find and book cheap bargain holidays while avoiding being ripped off.
HOW TO FIND CHEAP DEALS
Travel according to weather and season
Take advantage of a sunny summer or a white Christmas, when hotels, airlines and travel agents are eager to fill up last-minute charter holidays and ski trips. If you can, it often pays to travel outside the school summer holidays, when demand is lower.
In autumn and spring, you can get a trip for half the price of the high season, and temperatures are even more pleasant at these times of the year, especially in the major southern cities.
TIP: Choose on which day you travel
Tuesday, Wednesday, or Saturday often tend to be cheaper for travel than the other days. A late evening arrival is also usually cheaper than a morning flight.
Use a travel search engine
There are many travel search engines on the web, but only a few can be set to search for package holidays.
At Flyush, we’re pretty excited about the latest technological advancement from Google, which allows you to monitor all flights and fares from the airport of your choice via an interactive world map. That way, you can always find the cheapest flight right here, right now.
You can also use Travelmarket’s search engine, which compares prices of cheap discount flights across travel agencies and airlines.
If you’re looking for a complete holiday with hotel, flights and excursions included, an alternative is to use an online travel agent like Expedia, where you can search for flights only or package holidays.
Travel companies and search engines store cookies on your computer, so they can see which trips you’ve seen before. The price goes up and down depending on how you search for different flights.
Delete cookies on your computer, search via different devices, or search in incognito mode.
Search on multiple search engines
Once you know where you want to go, compare the price on the different search engines, as there is often a difference in price. Also, check the websites of charter agencies, they often have cheap flights to the heat and you don’t always have to book a hotel.
Create a price agent
It’s not as James Bond as it sounds. Airfares are changing all the time – right now, for example, there’s a price war between airlines on flights to New York, which have never been cheaper for that reason.
If you know you want to travel in a certain period in the future, you can set up a price agent on the travel search engines, which will monitor the market for you and update you on prices in that period.
TIP: Which days to book on
Search for travel, on different days and at different times. Travel agents and airlines change their prices as the wind blows, and there’s a lot to be saved by being well in advance and looking over several days, if not weeks.
Sunday afternoons, for example, are one of the most expensive days to book your trip, whereas Tuesday or Wednesday mornings are often cheaper.
Chose all-inclusive package holidays
All-Inclusive is a smart way to keep your holiday budget under control, and if you check the hotel reviews before you book, you can also be reasonably sure that the food is good.
But many package holidays, in order to be as cheap as possible, will not be all-inclusive. However, that shouldn’t stop you from getting all-inclusive at your resort or hotel if that’s what you’re dreaming of.
Once you’ve found a cheap trip or package deal, and it’s not long before departure, you can contact the hotel or travel agent and negotiate to have All Inclusive included in the price.
If you’re looking for a package deal WITH all-inclusive only, you might consider a cruise as a package deal, where there will, almost, always be all-inclusive on board.
Find a hotel at the last minute
Waiting until you arrive to book the hotel room where you’ll be staying is a tough decision, but you can save money by turning up at the last minute and asking for a room that would otherwise be empty.
Luckily, there’s an app for everything, and the Hotel Tonight app can track where you are and show you all the nearest hotels with availability. You can also set the app to show you availability in a city you haven’t yet arrived in.
You can download the app for free on Itunes or Google Play.
Also, remember to ask if you can be upgraded to a better room for free if you arrive late in the day and the room isn’t booked – the worst that can happen is you get a no.
A great tip to boost a tired holiday budget is to rent out your accommodation on Airbnb while you’re on holiday
Deal sites like Take Offer and Sweetdeal have struck a deal with travel agents in advance, and can therefore offer few, but really cheap, package holidays. You won’t necessarily be offered a package deal, but you still need to be flexible about departure dates, which are typically in a short period of time.
If you sign up for newsletters at the various deal sites, you’ll be among the first to know when cheap travel is on sale.
Cruise as a package holiday
The cruise is often a cheap bargain because the price is all inclusive, but no search engines can find cruises for you at the last minute.
However, the travel agents who organize cruises are very keen to fill every cabin at every price. Find out which cruises you want to go on and contact the travel agents at the last minute before departure to see if you can get a discount on available seats.
Check up on the plane
The itinerary may not mention this, so just to be on the safe side, check whether flights or other round-trip transport are included in the price of your trip.
Also check the flight itinerary, because who wants a 6-hour layover?
On long journeys, also check if food on the flight has been omitted to cut the overall cost of the trip.
Check the reviews of the hotel
The same goes for the hotel – many of the otherwise great deals conveniently forget to highlight it if the hotel is not included in the price of the trip.
It’s also a good idea to check the hotel’s central location and what previous guests have said about it before booking.
A good site is Hostelworld.com, which collects reviews on hotels, bed n’ breakfasts and hostels around the world.
Remember the fees
Please note that what looks like the final price of the trip is not necessarily the final price.
If you have a suitcase that needs to be checked and you’re travelling with someone you’d like to sit with on the flight, it can quickly cost extra in seat selection and checked baggage fees.
There’s also a charge for using a credit card when you book online.
Check the travel agency
Even if you have to go the long way round to find reviews of your hotel, you can use good old Trustpilot when it comes to the travel agency. See what their customers have said about them; did the trip live up to the travel agent’s description? Did they get value for money? And could they get their money back if they didn’t?
Use local low-cost carriers when flying locally abroad. Airfares can get too cheap, so always remember to check the airline on the EU blacklist.