Saving money on holidays

We all want to pay less for our holidays, without sacrificing our fun in the sun (or snow, or city streets). Find out how to cut costs on your travel, currency and insurance cover.

Getting a great deal on your holiday

Holidays can be expensive, but there are a few things you can do to keep your dream trip affordable.

Not sure what you can afford? Try our free Budget planner to work out what you can spend on your holiday.

  • Shop around - Comparison sites, high street travel agents and smaller firms are all worth checking before you buy a trip, change currency or purchase travel insurance. The more places you ask the more likely you’re to bag a bargain.
  • Book your tickets at the right time - Find the best time of year to get cheap holiday deals. If you’re flexible on dates, comparison sites can help you work out the cheapest time to travel.
  • Haggle with high street operators - You might get them to offer you something cheaper than an online deal.
  • Package holiday vs DIY - Package holidays include flights, accommodation and sometimes food and drink. They can be cheaper, but less flexible than holidays where you book everything separately.
  • Match your trip to your budget - It’s no fun spending the rest of the year worrying about money after going on a holiday you can’t afford. If money’s tight why not consider a cheaper trip, or a ‘staycation’?
For more tips on cutting the cost of your holiday, visit MoneySavingExpert.

Using a price comparison website

Price comparison websites are a quick and easy way to find lots of information on getting a cheap holiday.

Simply tell one of these websites where and when you want to go and it will search the market for available options.

Remember not to just focus on price. Make sure the holiday you pick matches your needs and your budget.

Make sure you check more than one comparison website. They don’t all work with the same airlines and suppliers, so if you only use one, you might miss out on the perfect deal.

Many of these websites have a ‘price alert’ functionality, which means you can ask them to let you know if the cost of a trip falls below a certain sum.

When to go and when to book

The most expensive time to go on holiday, is when everyone wants to go.

School holidays and bank holiday weekends, for example, are two of the most expensive times to travel.

If, however, you’re not too fussed when you travel, you could save a lot of money by going on holiday when fewer people want to.

You could, for example, consider travelling during the off-season and flying out on a Wednesday and coming back on a Tuesday.

Generally, it’s also cheaper to book your flight as early as possible.

You can use momondo’s tool below to work out when might be cheaper.

Momondo’s flight insight tool

If you’re flexible with your dates then you might be interested in momondo’s tool, which estimates future flight prices.

To use it:

  1. go to the momondo website
  2. type in your preferred dates and destination and click ‘Search’
  3. once the results are loaded, click ‘Flight insight’ in the top right hand corner

The insight screen will give you lots of useful information on your chosen destination, including an estimate of the cheapest months to go, the least expensive airlines and even the best time of day to fly.

Example:

If you want to go from London to New York, momondo suggests that the cheapest months to go are February and November.

The most expensive are July and August.

It also lists the cheapest airlines, on average, as well as the least expensive airports to fly from and to.

Remember the insights you get aren’t set in stone and should only serve as an indication of what options might be cheapest.

Check as many sources as possible to make sure you find the best prices.

Package holiday or DIY flights and hotel – what’s best?

When you book your holiday, you’ve got two main options:

  1. Buy a package holiday - usually through a tour operator. The package includes flights and accommodation, and sometimes food and drink too if you go all-inclusive.
  2. Put together a DIY holiday - you choose and pay for your accommodation and flights separately, but the payments are made more than 24 hours apart – great if you’re looking for something specific.

There’s also a third option, which is a mixture of a package and DIY holiday.

This is called a Linked Travel Arrangements holiday.

With these, you pay for the parts of the holiday separately, as opposed to all at once. The payments need to be made within 24 hours, which is one of the things that makes them different from a DIY holiday.

You’ll be told if a holiday you book is a Linked Travel Arrangement by the first travel company.

The rules and the difference between the types of holiday are a bit complicated so if you’re not sure what type you’re buying, ask. Travel firms are now required to tell you upfront if you’re buying a package holiday or linked travel arrangement.

The cheapest holiday option

Package holidays tend to be cheaper, especially for more popular destinations, but it’s worth checking all the options.

Sometimes you can get a special deal if you book separately or get a Linked Travel Arrangement.

If you’re planning on going on holiday with a group of people, some operators offer group bookings.

These can be cheaper than individual bookings, so it can be worth asking.

Rights and protection when you book holidays

If you book a package holiday through a company with an Air Travel Organiser’s Licence (ATOL) or one that’s a member of the travel association ABTA, then you get protection if they go bust.

You also have the right to expect the holiday you paid for. Not all holidays are equal in the level of protection they offer though, with Package holidays offering the most and DIY the least.

Rules changed for holidays bought after 1 July 2018 with the Package Travel and Linked Travel Arrangements Regulations 2018. This gives you protection if the holiday doesn’t match how it was described on websites or in brochures. It gives you the right to ask your tour operator to correct any problems or claim compensation if it can’t.

It’s worth noting, you don’t get this if you go DIY.

Find out more about the Package Travel and Linked Travel Arrangements Regulations 2018 on the Which? website

Here’s a quick comparison of the level of protection you get with different holidays:

Holiday type Level of protection
Package holidays Financial protection if the organising goes bust. Legal protection if you don’t get the holiday you expect.
Linked Travel Arrangements Protection if the organisation goes bust.
DIY holidays With most DIY holidays you don’t get either of these.
Check if a holiday company is ATOL licensed.

Ways of protecting yourself with DIY holidays

If you use your credit card to buy a holiday costing over £100 and up to £30,000, you’re covered by ‘section 75’ of the Consumer Credit Act.

This means the credit card company has equal responsibility with the seller if there’s a problem with the things you’ve bought, including if a firm goes bust.

If you paid by debit card or on credit for less than £100 you may be able to claim on the chargeback scheme, where your bank or card firm gets your cash back from the retailer’s bank if something goes wrong. This is not a legal requirement, it’s a customer service promise, but worth trying.

If you paid with PayPal they offer buyer protection, so it’s worth raising a dispute with PayPal to try this route. You need to raise a dispute within 180 days.

If you paid by bank transfer, cash or other methods, there’s little you can do using any of the protections mentioned above. It’s worth checking if you’re able to make a claim on your travel insurance.

Cheap travel insurance

As with anything else, with travel insurance it pays to shop around.

Don’t buy direct from your travel agent or travel website, unless you’re sure it’s the best deal - it almost certainly won’t be.

Find out more about getting the right insurance at the right price:

Cheap travel money

Get the right deal on your foreign currency – find low-cost, convenient and safe ways to pay overseas:

Your tips for paying for a holiday

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