More than half of us want to keep a strict budget when we go on holiday, but when it comes to the costs of booking the trip it seems we could do a lot more to ensure we’re getting a bargain.
One man who knows a lot about how to get the most out of your travel money is Louis Bridger, Head of the UK and Ireland at International Currency Exchange – a world-leading currency exchange operator. Here he shares some of his favourite money-saving hacks.
Be flexible on days and times
If you can be flexible about the day and time you fly, you could make a serious saving on the cost of your flight. Avoiding the weekend is your best bet at getting a better deal. Research shows that Monday afternoons are the cheapest time to fly, with savings of up to 15%. Likewise, flying in the evening can save you some serious cash if you’re willing to arrive at your destination later in the day.
Book in private mode
Travel sites have a sneaky way of tracking what you are looking at online and will increase the prices on site accordingly – so if you visit the site more than once and notice the costs increasing, this is why! When you are costing up the price of flights, hotels and trips make sure that you set your browser to private. You can easily turn on a private web page by going to your settings and opening an ‘incognito’ window.
Stay in secret hotels
As well as flights, accommodation can really eat into your holiday budget, especially if you want to stay somewhere a little more luxurious. If you’re not concerned about where exactly you stay, using a website which offers ‘secret hotels’ could be a great alternative and can save you hundreds. Hotels will often cut prices to fill their empty rooms, but many don’t want to advertise these discounts in case it devalues their offering. Websites such as Hotwire and Lastminute.com will allow you to find hotels in your chosen location at your desired star rating – the only catch is that you won’t know where you’re staying until after you’ve paid. A little unnerving maybe, but it could see you staying in a 5* hotel for the price of a 3*.
Make friends with brands
Marketing emails can be annoying, but when it comes to travel, making friends with airlines and holiday companies can pay dividends. Brands will often host flash sales, run competitions or generally have great prices and offers that they only offer to loyal customers, so make sure you are signed up to all the mailing lists and follow them on social media. If you can’t stand the spam, redirect emails into one folder in your inbox and check back regularly, or create Twitter lists of your favourite brands to keep all potential offers in one place. You never know – you could spot a great sale or discount that you’d miss otherwise.
Book during low season
Previous research by ICE revealed that parents paid more than £4 million in fines for taking their children out of school during term time, but if you don’t have children then you could save hundreds of pounds on your holiday by booking in the low season. The reduction in tourists can also mean that there are fewer queues for popular attractions too.
Get your currency in advance
Many of us make the mistake of leaving our holiday cash to the very last minute, but planning in advance can save you considerable money. Rates can fluctuate, so it’s a good idea to monitor currency for at least a month before you depart so you can purchase at a time when the rate is in your favour. Try to avoid purchasing currency at the airport, as rates can be a lot higher than on the high street. A great way to get a good deal on your cash is by ordering your travel money online and picking it up in-store. For example, with ICE’s click and collect service you can get a Euro rate of 1.132 today (14.02.2019) at their London Waterloo store, compared to 1.112 from Moneycorp at London Stansted Airport. That’s a saving of £20.