Bag yourself a bargain break this spring
Now that spring is here, you may well be planning to head off for a weekend break. And you won't be alone.
According to the Association of British Travel Agents, around two million Brits headed overseas last Easter, and this year's bank holidays in April and May are likely to see similar numbers jetting off for a short break, many at the last minute. Even more are likely to be holidaying within the UK.
Whether you're after culture, romance, adventure or just a spot of relaxation with the family, there are destinations to suit every budget.
Renting a cottage or villa can work out better value for families. As well as generally providing cheaper accommodation than hotels, going self-catering means you can eat cheaply too. Wales, the West Country and the national parks are good UK destinations.
Rachael English, spokesperson for holidaylettings.co.uk, says it's perfectly possible to get away for the Easter weekend even on a tight budget.
For example, she says families looking for a country retreat could nab a two-bedroom bungalow near Brecon in Wales. It costs £250 a week and sleeps up to five. A long weekend would cost you from £35 to £50 a night.
If you're after some sun, holidaylettings.co.uk has apartments abroad to rent for a weekend – for example, a two-bedroom apartment that sleeps four in Puerto de Mazarron, Spain, would cost you just £29 a night.
If you want to make sure the kids have plenty of activities to keep them amused, then a resort-based holiday such as Centre Parcs is a good option. Weekends at Whinfell Forest, Cumbria, start at around £20 per person per night for a three-night stay over a weekend.
And if you go mid-week in term time it will be even cheaper, at around £13 each per night for a five-day stay in April. However, you might have to pay more during school holidays.
City breaks can be good for families too, and where better to go than London. Websites travelsupermarket.com and laterooms.com, can help you find a cheap hotel.
The London Leisure Pass (londonpass.com) – £39 a day for an adult or £26 for a child – can save you money on entrance to attractions such as St Paul's Cathedral and the Tower of London.
Kingdoms for couples
"City breaks are a good idea for couples. There is Rome, Venice and Paris, of course, or less obvious destinations such as Stockholm, Krakow or Lyon," says Bob Atkinson, travel expert for travelsupermarket.com.
"Or consider a mini cruise – there are lots of two or three-night cruises from the south coast with companies such as Royal Caribbean International and P&O, as well as ferry trips to Holland, Scandinavia and Spain."
James Yerkess, Marks & Spencer's travel money manager, suggests Poland for couples looking for romance on a budget. The country has increased in popularity as a destination for short breaks, particularly since joining the European Union in 2004.
"Flights to Poland are available at several UK airports; it only takes around two-and-a-half hours to reach Warsaw," he says.
"With Poland remaining outside the eurozone, you'll find everyday items are relatively good value compared with other more popular short-break destinations such as Italy and Spain."
If you go for a city break, you can either buy a ready-made package or buy flights and accommodation separately. At the time of writing, The Flight Centre had a special offer for Amsterdam over the Easter weekend.
The deal costs £255 per person and includes return flights from Gatwick and two nights in a three-star hotel.
Special offers such as this change all the time and usually have restricted dates of travel, so it's a good idea to decide when you want to go and then use websites such as flightcentre.co.uk or lastminute.com to shop around.
There are endless options for groups of friends holidaying together. It all depends on what you want to do – partying, chilling out, sight-seeing or a combination of all three.
"Resorts such as Marbella, the Algarve, Ibiza Town and Barcelona are ideal for groups. They all have a good nightlife and lots to do, as well as great beaches.
Prague and Dublin are good for friends looking for a city break," says Atkinson. "A great idea is to head to France for wine or champagne tasting. DIY packages are easy to put together and lots of fun."
If you want to stay in the UK, how about going retro at Butlins? The holiday camp now holds 'Big Weekends' for over-18s at Minehead, Skegness and Bognor Regis.
These are themed according to decades – the 1960s through to the 1990s – so be prepared to dress up and strut your stuff at the disco. Prices start at £76 a person for a three-night stay in self-catering accommodation.
If relaxation is more your style, there are plenty of cheap spa deals available. Specialist website belaqua.co.uk sells breaks at spas across the country, and guarantees that its prices are the same or lower than the venue's published price.
Typical offers include a one-night stay at Grayshott Spa in Surrey for £169 a person. Included in the price is a classic double, twin or single room, one 25-minute treatment, the use of spa facilities and exercise classes, and all meals from dinner on arrival to breakfast on departure.