Going on holiday is something we all look forward to... but something not so fun is paying for it. That’s why whenever you go on holiday, you need to either be getting a good deal or know the tricks of the trade in order to save money on them.
Holidays aren't cheap and so any savings you make can have a significant impact on the total you end up paying. These 5 tips will help you understand where you can save money on your holiday this summer and hopefully mean you never pay full price again.
Tip 1 - How to search Google Flights for the cheapest deal
If you need to search for flights, I’d say the best place to look is Google Flights. There are a ton of features to help you find the cheapest flights on your trip. And the bonus is, if you’re not sure where (or when) you want to go, you can find out what’s cheapest.
To search for a flight, simply enter your origin airport, destination and dates you’re looking to fly. You’ll then be given a list of flights on different airlines, starting with the cheapest. You can filter these down by number of stops, specific airlines or times of flights.
Once you have entered your destination, the calendar will give you prices of flights leaving on each day in that calendar month. Highlighted in green are the cheapest days to fly.
If there’s a flight that you want to monitor the prices of, you can do that. Once you’ve completed a search for your destination and dates, click the ”track prices” button above your options. You will then be emailed if the flight prices go up or down.
If you don’t know where to go and are just browsing for a cheap flight, you can do a search for anywhere. Simply enter your origin airport, and your dates, and a map of the world will be displayed with flight prices to each destination. If you’re flexible on dates, you can make the search even wider.
It’s a handy tool to use and ensures you’re getting a good price. It also tells you if flight prices are low, high or about average for the trip you’re taking - which is good to know.
Tip 2 - How to claim cashback on hotels
Whenever you purchase a holiday or hotel, you should always try and claim some kind of discount on it. I’d say the best and easiest way is to claim cashback on your bookings.
If you’re not signed up to Quidco or TopCashback, you’re missing out on free cash. Booking hotels via one of these websites could save you £100s, as it’s not uncommon to get 10% cashback (sometimes even more).
One of the highest rates currently is at Hotels.com, where you can get 11% back on your hotel booking - so if you’re going away on a long trip, it could really add up.
To claim it is simple. Sign up to one of the two cashback websites and do a search for the retailer you were looking to book through. It’ll tell you the cashback rate and you simply need to click on a button to visit the retailer.
Once taken through, it will track to see if you have spent any money on the website, and if you complete your booking, your cashback will be added to your account (after a waiting period). You may not get the money for a while, but it’s usually a decent amount of cash and it quickly adds up.
Tip 3 - Become a detective on ‘mystery hotels’
We’ve all seen advertised ‘mystery’ hotels, that allow you to book a room at a reduced rate - but you won’t know what hotel it is until after you’ve paid.
But did you know that you’re able to work out which hotel you could be staying in, even if they keep it a mystery? It doesn’t take too much work to find out either.
Each mystery hotel destination is divided into sections on a map. It will give you the hotels star rating, amenities, and other perks of staying there. You can use this information to go onto another hotel website and find one that matches.
Let’s look at an example. If I wanted to stay for a night at the 5* Sofitel hotel based at Athens Airport, by searching on normal hotel websites, it would cost me over £220 for a night. But by doing a quick search of the ‘mystery hotels’, you could find it cheaper.
On Priceline, they offer mystery hotels under the name ‘Express Deals’, and I found a 5* hotel in the same location for quite a bit less money. After digging into it even further, there were no other 5* hotels in the area on that map - so you can quite confidently say that this is the same hotel.
Just by taking 10 minutes of time to do some research can yield you a decent saving off your hotel stay. The best websites to do this on are Lastminute and Priceline, but be sure to search the web for other in case you can’t find a perfect match on these two.
Tip 4 - Package holidays VS DIY holidays
When shopping for a holiday, you can either choose between getting a package (flights and hotel) or booking your flights and hotel separately. Depending on where you book, outcomes can be different as to which is cheapest.
It’s worth checking before you book any holiday, whether it would be cheaper to book a package or build a DIY holiday, but here are the general rules for which would be cheapest:
On the whole, if you’re flying further afield on long haul holidays, you’re more likely to get a better deal by booking a package. This is because if you’re travelling further away, flight prices tend to be higher, which means there is more room to move on the price.
If you wanted to book a package deal, it’s worth looking at several different websites as it may yield different results. I recommend visiting Expedia, TravelSupermarket and Lastminute, as one may offer a cheaper price than another.
Generally, if you’re booking a package deal with an airline or travel operator (such as Virgin Holidays, Tui etc), they won’t be beaten on price, as only they can offer the best deals.
If you’re flying to a location in Europe for example, where flights are usually quite low - getting your holiday separately tends to be the better option. Package deals are discounted as there is room to wiggle on price (with flights being more expensive). If you’re flying to France for example - you can usually get flights for under £50, which means there is less room to discount.
Make sure you do a proper look around for the cheapest flight on sites such as Google Flights, and also use a hotel price comparison such as Trivago, then combine the two to make your holiday and in most cases, it will be cheaper.
Tip 5 - How to get 5% off Duty-Free worldwide
It’s standard to buy some aftershave or even a Toblerone in duty-free, but did you know you can get a discount on it? There’s an app on your phone which is made by the company that owns duty-free and it can be used to earn loyalty points and discounts on certain purchases.
Red by Dufry (pronounced ‘due-free’) is an app available on iOS and Android. It essentially acts as a loyalty scheme for duty-free, where you scan the app to earn points and in addition, you can earn up to 5% off purchases in duty-free too.
To get up to 5% discount, all you need to do is install the app and create an account. Once done, you’ll receive a QR code on your home screen, which you’ll need to scan whenever shopping in duty-free stores (discount excludes tobacco). The app can be used in over 60 countries and 200+ locations worldwide including Dufry owned Hudson and Nuance stores.
These five tips should hopefully save you a fair bit of money when planning your next trip, especially if you can combine all of them. The less you spend on the holiday itself, the more spending money you have when you’re there.