Book the holiday of a lifetime, without breaking the bank

Published by Laura Whitcombe on 13 January 2014.
Last updated on 13 January 2014

Dream holiday

With summer on the horizon many of us like to jet off on a long-haul flight, but it's a simple fact of life that the further you go, the more you'll have pay to get there. Flights alone can quickly mount up, and that's before you've considered hotels and other costs.

So to ensure your pound stretches as far as possible it pays to do a bit of research. Andrew Brown, spokesperson for the Post Office says holidaymakers need to consider "the whole picture and not just the package price before booking". He says: "Look for a destination where the pound is worth more and where resort costs are low."

Where to go?

With so many tempting destinations to choose from, narrowing down a region can be tricky. But if value for money is a priority, you could consider some of the places that have made it to the Post Office's list of best-value, long-haul holiday locations.

The Indonesian paradise island of Bali topped the list in 2013, where a basket of 10 tourist staples - including drinks, suncream and a three-course evening meal with wine for two – came in at just £43.91.

In second place was Capetown in South Africa, where the same basket came in at £49.57, and in third was Hoi An in Vietnam, at £53.04.

Meanwhile, destinations 'down under' were revealed as the most expensive, with the tourist basket costing £121.35 in New Zealand (Auckland) and £124.69 in Australia (Darwin).

Once you've settled on your destination, you need to turn your attention to getting a good-value flight. Of course, the further you fly the more you'll pay. As a rough example, a return flight from London to Bali departing on Saturday 19 June can be found on for around £883. Flights on the same day to Barcelona start from around £70.

Cheap flights

But even though long-haul flights will always be pricey, there are ways to keep the cost under control.

For example, avoid travelling when everyone else wants to, such as during school holidays when prices are usually higher. But even if you do need to travel during that time, there are still ways to save.

Picking weekday rather than weekend flights can help. The £883 price of the Saturday Bali flight falls closer to £735 on Wednesday 16 June. In fact, research by consumer group Which? shows that Tuesday tends to be the cheapest day to fly out of the UK while Sunday is the most expensive day to return.

And on some flights choosing to fly late at night or in the small hours of the morning can save you money. "If you can be flexible on the time, date and day of your trip, you stand the best chance of bagging a bargain," says Bob Atkinson, travel expert at

Package or DIY?

There are certainly advantages of booking your flights and accommodation together through a package holiday deal.

"In the main, booking a package tends to work out cheaper," says Laura Featonby, an independent travel agent working under the Independent Travel Expert network.

Using Bali as an example again, a package deal to a four-star hotel for a fortnight in mid-June, flying from Heathrow, costs £2,056 for two people with a holiday company found through

Moneywise spoke to one of its agents over the phone and was told the same trip with flights and accommodation booked separately would come to £2,500.

There are other financial benefits of booking your long-haul trip as a package deal. "If the flight is cancelled, it's the tour operator's responsibility to find and pay for a new flight for you – they have to absorb any cost difference," says Sue Ockwell, spokeswoman for the Association of Independent Tour Operators.

"The financial protection you gain via buying a package is considerable – and you lose nothing in terms of flexibility, as most packages these days are tailor-made to your precise requirements. It's a no-brainer, really, but many people don't understand this."

However, package deals aren't for everyone and not everyone agrees that they are always cheaper. Popular travel blogger Jason Welsh says: "Before booking a package holiday, I would recommend checking sites such as and to see if you can get your flights and hotels cheaper."

Cheap cruises

Independent travel agent Laura Featonby says cruises offer the very best value. "Cruises are by far the cheapest when you add everything in," she says.

Adolfo Perez, managing director of Carnival Cruise Lines UK, adds: "Cruising on the whole offers fantastic value, as well as the chance to experience lots of stunning destinations within a relatively short space of time – you could be waking up in a different country every day, so it's like six or more holidays in one."

Featonby adds that the early bird often catches the worm when it comes to booking long-haul cruises. "Cruise companies put their fares out up to two years before departure and offer fabulous early booking discounts, with onboard spending money and cabin upgrades," she says.

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