Holiday like a travel agent: be savvy & steal the industry secrets.

By Rosie Earl

Everyone loves a holiday, but not the high costs attached. Is it possible to get away without getting into debt?

There are many benefits to getting away on holiday: you can relax, reset your internal clock, and get a little bit of sunshine. Everyone needs a break once in awhile. However, holidays can be really expensive, and last year The Mirror reported that 2.17 million families couldn’t afford to get away. Like any industry, the travel business is full of tips and tricks that can help you get the best deal when booking your holiday.

Be flexible

When booking your flight/train tickets/hotel think about the dates and whether or not your can be flexible. If you can, you could find a better price. For example, Fridays, Saturdays, and school holidays tend to cost more.Very early journeys, overnight trips and midweek jaunts can all save you a few quid. Skyscanner has a neat graph tool for checking how expensive flights are on each day of the month, avoiding the priciest days. If you’ve got a bit of time, test out some different dates and times in a booking tool (such as The Trainline or Expedia) and see what times and dates get you more for your money.

Be organised

In recent years, the ‘last minute’ holiday has become the go to move of the savvy traveller, however depending on your situation, booking in advance may be a better solution. If you’ve got a fair amount of flexibility with your leave (no kids, work will accommodate etc) it may be beneficial for you pack your bags and go right now. If you need to fit in with a specific schedule, such as term times, booking early is the way forward. Train companies typically release tickets 12 weeks in advance and flights can be released upto a year in advance, meaning that you could pick up a cheap deal before others snap them up.

Be savvy

Use technology to find the best deals, and shop around from the comfort of your computer. A great way of doing this is by looking up a holiday on a third party site (such as Expedia) and making a note of what providers are being used. Then, go straight to the provider’s website to see in it’s cheaper to book directly from them, avoiding any third party fees. You can also research indirect journey - for example finding out what stops are on your train journey and buying a single to a different stop on your route then a single from there to your final destination. Weigh it up though: with stop-over flights, will you have to fork out for hotels, airport food, extra drinks etc. This could end up costing you more, even though the flights cost less. A really user-friendly app for checking trips is Hopper, which predicts how much flights will cost on certain dates and allows you to set alerts so you don’t miss the best prices. It also shows you how long the journey will take, and how much it would cost to get a flight at a different time to allow you to make an informed choice.  

Be prepared

One thing that really hikes up the cost of journey is food on the go. Sandwiches cost £3.50-£5, coffee costs a fortune, and even the humble Twix can set you back a couple of quid. Taking a packed lunch in your bag rather than buying on your journey will really make a difference. Travel Supermarket have compiled a helpful table to show you just how high the markup is between buying at home or buying on the move. The same can be said if you’re travelling by car - service stations are very expensive as you’re a captive audience. Although a packed lunch won’t make you a millionaire, it might buy you an extra cocktail when you reach the hotel.  

Be friendly

Sometimes one of the best ways to get a great deal is to interact with another human being. Your high street travel agent may be the gatekeeper to better deals than anything you can find online. You can discuss exactly what you’re looking for and see what they suggest - they’re the experts, after all. A top tip would be to check prices online first and have an idea of what you expect to pay. If they offer you something more expensive, see if they can beat what you’ve found or just walk away. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

Top Takeaway

Avoid peak travel times and school holidays. Shop around to find the best deal - whether online or at your local travel agent. Also, a little preparation goes a long way - planning your journey and packing your lunch in advance could give you more cash to splash on your jolly holiday.

By Rosie Earl

Rosie is a massive geek who loves anything Hello Kitty or penguin related. She writes every day and wants to be Caitlin Moran when she grows up. If she was an animal, she would be a baby dragon (with a solid background in finance). The Sorting Hat would have put her in Hufflepuff, and she is cool with that.

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