If you want a great summer break this year but don’t want it to cost the earth, don’t worry: we’ve got some great tips to help you cut the cost of your annual getaway.
New Year is a popular time to think about next summer’s holiday.
But with finances likely to have been stretched by the expensive festive period, it’s well worth considering how you can get away for less.
Here are six tips aimed at helping travellers jet off in 2016 without breaking the bank.
1. Join the sharing economy
The sharing economy involves individuals making money by renting out things they own, such as parking spaces or cars.
One of the biggest sharing-economy businesses is Airbnb, which lets property owners rent out rooms or entire homes for short periods. Prices can be significantly lower than using a hotel and travellers often get the chance to stay in far more interesting surroundings.
Airbnb is particularly good for city breaks, while HomeAway.co.uk is focused more on holiday homes and villas.
2. Get off the beaten track
While budget airlines have cut the cost of air travel for millions of people over the past decade or so, it can still be expensive to head to popular destinations – especially at busy times.
But by choosing less well known resorts or locations, you can save a lot of money on your air fare. Websites run by easyJet, Ryanair and so on make it simple to find out which destinations are served by your nearest airport – and it’s straightforward to compare flight prices for different routes.
For example, if you want to go to Spain with easyJet, rather than Barcelona or Malaga, say, consider Valencia or Bilbao.
3. Avoid the school holiday price spikes
If you have school-age children, paying considerably more for your holidays is a fact of life. But there could be one way at least to get cheaper flights.
At Easter or half-term, for example, families are most likely to travel on the Saturday immediately after the schools break up: as such, flight prices on these days go through the roof.
But it is worth checking well in advance when your child’s school has teacher-training days. These are often the Monday immediately after a break, and they mean that you can be away from Monday to Monday without your son or daughter having to be taken out of school.
Yes, you’ll have to take an extra day off work. But chances are your flights will be far cheaper than if you travel with the masses on the weekend.
4. Buy your insurance when you book
If you book a holiday months in advance, you increase the risk that something could happen that forces you to cancel.
To avoid losing your money as well as your holiday, make sure you buy insurance as soon as you’ve made your reservations: most policies should include cancellation cover, which applies from the moment they are taken out.
If you leave insurance to the last minute, you won’t get this benefit.
5. Work out where your money goes furthest
The financial turmoil of the last few years has seen big fluctuations in currency values, while prices have fallen in countries with serious economic problems such as Greece and Portugal.
It is worth looking at exchange rates and local prices before you book: by picking a destination that offers good value for money, you can slash your accommodation and living costs.
6. Cut your spending charges
However high or low prices are in your chosen resort, the way you pay can have a big impact on your trip’s bottom line.
It is worth signing up well in advance for a credit and/or debit card that charges low or zero fees for withdrawing cash from ATMs or making purchases in shops and restaurants.
The Halifax Clarity credit card charges less than most rivals, while the Post Office also has a card designed for overseas spending.