Travelling is a fabulous stress buster. It’s been proved to be good for you in many ways. With the world in lockdown, many of us have been getting very itchy feet. Slowly restrictions are being lifted, so whether you are considering a staycation or a holiday further afield I hope these tips about finding the best holiday and last minute travel deals will be useful and save you both time and money! Having worked in the travel industry and been an avid traveller myself for over 30 years, I’ve certainly picked up a few tips along the way.
One thing not to scrimp on though is insurance. It’s important to get the right one. What policies cover varies greatly. If you travel a lot it may be more cost-effective to purchase annual multi-trip travel insurance. You’ll find more on insurance at the end of this post including whether or not you need travel insurance when staying in your own country. As the UK, Europe and the world slowly open up again, I wish you safe and happy travels!
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Save on your hotel
When I’m looking for a hotel, TripAdvisor is my first stop. They compare hotel deals from all the top booking sites to find you the best hotel prices. It will save you time as well as money as it clearly shows you whether it will be cheaper to book your hotel through Booking.com, Agoda, Trip.com and many more. You can then select the best deal and go to the relevant website to make the booking. You no longer need to go to all the different sites individually to find the best hotel deal.
If it’s a staycation you are after, self-catering properties are expected to fill up quickly, so booking last-minute simply may not be an option.
Tips on finding the best hotel deals
- With or without breakfast? If you like a big breakfast, look for a deal where breakfast is included and check the reviews to see if the breakfast offered sounds good. Let’s face it, they can vary greatly. On the other hand, if you usually skip breakfast a room without breakfast included is often cheaper. When I’m in a country like Paris, I love finding a picturesque street cafe and joining the locals for a light breakfast and a coffee.
- Might you need to cancel? The rules on pandemic can change at any time. If you think you may need to cancel your hotel it might be worth paying a couple of pounds more to book a hotel where you can cancel without any charges. Booking.com is great for this but it doesn’t apply to all hotels.
- If you are also looking for a flight, you might be able to see money booking both together.
Below: The Spread Eagle, Midhurst, West Sussex, England
Save on your flight
Skyscanner is my preferred flight search engine. I’d recommend them for finding the best deals on flights. You can set your currency in the top righthand corner. However, different search engines cover different flights so it’s worth checking more than one.
Tips on finding the best flight deals
- Remember the cheapest isn’t always the best value as it may not include luggage allowance and meals. Try searching by ‘best value’ and then again by ‘cheapest’. Select your favourite options in each and then compare what each one includes. It can turn out to be a false economy to simply opt for the cheapest.
- The cheapest day to book a flight, according to Skyscanner’s research is a Sunday. While the most expensive day to book is a Wednesday.
- The cheapest day to fly is a Friday.
- Flights should generally be booked early which is bad news for the last-minute traveller. Business users are prepared to pay over the odds for last minute flights so prices usually soar so, if you can book your flights at least two weeks in advance.
- Pay by credit card for flights costing more than £100 as you should then be covered is the airline goes bust. Be sure to pay off your credit card promptly though so you are not charged interest.
- Booking your hotel with your flight can often save money.
- Also, keep in mind the cost of getting to the airport. While flights in the middle of the night may be cheaper, if you were planning to travel to the airport by public transport, if you opt for a cheap night flight you’ll either have to drive to the airport for splash out on a taxi.
Save on package holidays
Have you heard of Travel Zoo? If not, I highly recommend you check them out and sign up for their newsletter. There are 12 different versions of the site depending on where in the world you live, packed full of great holiday deals and more.
Their UK site is overflowing with tempting offers from weekend breaks in the Cotswolds to far-flung worldwide adventures plus some excellent restaurant deals. It is a little dangerous though! Every week when their newsletter lands in my inbox, it sends my wanderlust soaring to new heights.
Save on your car rental
Discover Cars is a great site for comparing car hire prices to help you find the best deal. They search for car hire deals from both local and international rental companies.
Book an experience
When I’m travelling, especially to a new city, I use Get Your Guide to book tours and excursions. You can’t beat a good food tour to introduce you to a new city! I always book a food tour near the beginning of my stay so I know all the best places to eat and drink. They are also a great way to meet other people if you are travelling solo, as our group pub crawls which are also becoming more popular, although I’ve yet to try one myself.
What if your holiday company goes bust?
As I’ve previously mentioned, it is often cheaper to buy flights and hotels together and buying a package holiday usually also means you are better protected against companies going out of business.
If you are travelling with a UK company make sure it is ATOL and/or ABTA protected ensuring that if the company goes bust you will get your money back. ATOL protection also means that if you’re already on holiday when the company goes bust, the CAA (Civil Aviation Authority) will repatriate you.
Failing the above your travel insurance should also offer protection against companies going out of business.
Lastly, if you have paid for your holiday or flight with a credit card, you may be able to claim through your credit card company.
I never travel without insurance. If something unexpected goes wrong the costs implications are just too high to take the risk. World Nomads provides travel insurance to travellers from over 130 countries. They’re the perfect choice for young adventurous long term travellers or for single trip insurance.
In these uncertain times, it’s also good to know that your travel insurance will cover you if the company you are travelling goes bust.
- Do check out what the insurance you buy covers, in particular, any activities you wish to try
- Be aware that some supposedly worldwide travel insurance policies may not include the Caribbean and North America (crazy I know).
- And remember, If you travel against your governments’ advice your insurance policy will be invalid, and any claim likely to be rejected.
If like me, you are over 50 and live in the UK, I’d recommend, Saga Travel Insurance.
Does your insurance cover COVID 19?
Some providers have restricted cancellation and travel disruption cover in policies bought after coronavirus was declared a pandemic on 11 March 2020.
Claims related to coronavirus are now likely to be excluded from any travel insurance policy, as it is considered a “known event” that travellers are aware of.
Do you need insurance for a staycation?
Many holidaymakers assume that you don’t need travel insurance if you are travelling within your own country. However, unexpected and costly problems can still arise on a staycation just as they might on a trip abroad. Here in the UK, access to the NHS can make insurance unnecessary for unexpected illness or injury, but you may still want to consider including cover for lost or stolen luggage, travel delays or cancellations. While it may not be cost-effective to take out insurance for a short weekend breakaway relatively locally, for longer, more costly trips it is definitely worth considering.
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