Five ways to bag a holiday bargain

1. House Swap

Instead of paying to stay in a dull apartment with no character, swap your home with a willing participant in your chosen destination via one of the swapping websites such as and

You can keep costs to an absolute minimum, with some exchange services charging a one-off subscription fee of about £30, while others cost nothing.

2. DIY vs Package

To avoid paying over the odds consider buying a package deal rather than paying for your flights and accommodation seperately. Even if you don't want to stay in a resort location, you can sometimes get a whole package deal for the same price - or cheaper than - your flights alone.

Package holidays are generally a cheaper option if you go for a standard number of days - seven, 10 or 14 - and if you stick to the well-worn paths.

Unfortunately, there is no set pattern and it takes a bit of time and patience to research your options and to find the best deals. The main thing is to keep an open mind and not to be snobby about package deals or wary of doing-it-yourself, because both can be equally good value if you research them well enough.

A useful website to get tips and recommendations from other seasoned travellers is

3. Get an upgrade

Unless you've paid for a first-class ticket, there's no guarantee of an upgrade, but there are things you can do to give yourself a chance. Wear smart clothes, don't pre-book special on-plane food and never ask at check-in for an upgrade.

Where possible, regular travelers should join 'frequent flyer' schemes, and if possible book flights direct through the carrier instead of via a travel agent.

4. Fly mid-week

Increased fares frequently apply over the weekends in order to catch the weekend-break custom. According to holidaymakers can make huge savings by flying midweek rather than the weekend.

For example a couple flying return to Faro, Portugal for a short break in October last year would have paid a combined price of £752.96 if they flew with on a Saturday but would have only paid £532.96 if they left on a Wednesday instead - a saving of £220.

The same is true of several other holiday destinations in Spain. However, be sure to avoid flying in rush-hour flight times during the week, particularly if you are flying popular business routes, such as London to Berlin.

It is also worth avoiding school holidays in order to get the best deals.

5. Sign up to newsletters

Many airlines and travel companies will have an option to subscribe to their newsletters on their website. This is useful because it means notifications of deals and sales will come into your email inbox and you don't have to keep constantly checking the site for updates.

Bob Atkinson, travel expert at, says airlines such as easyjet and British Airways always do January sales and if you are signed up to their newsletter you will find out about them first.

These may also include notifications of last minute offers, which while not always convenient for families, can work well for pairs or solo travellers.

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Your Comments

I wished to buy a plane ticket from Bristol to Barcelona and then travel overland by train and bus to Rome. Coming home I wished to fly Rome to Bristol. The airfares were too high so I thought in a creative way. I bought for half the price Bristol to Toulouse and Pisa to Bristol flights. Capital cities like Rome and big cities like Barcelona tend to be pricey. Smaller places like Menton and Pisa tend to be much cheaper.
I wanted to go to Iceland and was shocked when I swa the cost of accommodation. So I took my two young children there camping in a tent. That is such a beautiful country. I booked the plane tickets to reach it in advance to make a saving on those.
It is cheaper to fly Wednesday to Wednesday than Saturday to Saturday however the May half term requires the latter. I take my own food on planes and small drinks up to 100ml. These pass through security easily: one bag per person.
Remember check banking fees for purchases and cash withdrawal at home. Lloyds Bank gave me such high fees. I take my Norwich and Peterborough Card which I use when on my travels.