Five ways to bag a holiday bargain

Holiday signpost

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 homexchangevacation.com and en.homeforhome.com.

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 tripadvisor.com.

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 travelsupermarket.com 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 Monach.co.uk 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 travelsupermarket.com, 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.

Published: 16 June 2010
Last updated: 28 May 2017

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