I thought I would write a very short piece about booking holidays. I’m by no means an expert but I do have the very tragic hobby of looking up different hotel prices and flights/trains/boats/space craft for fun. Since speaking to a few people, it has come to my attention that not everyone knows about these things and this is perhaps why a lot of people still book via physical travel agents, even though this is rarely the best deal.
So, here is my advice;
You can generally snare a better deal by booking your flights and hotels separately. This may seem obvious to some and daunting to others but it’s true. There are excellent price comparison sites to help you do this, I normally use SkyScanner for my flights and Trivago for hotels but there are multiple options.
Prices will fluctuate during the course of the day/week. I haven’t managed to pinpoint the exact science of this, at what times things increase or decrease is still a mystery but my advice is to check prices several times over the course of a week before you book. I tend to find that antisocial hours give you the cheapest prices, for example, for my most recent booking flight prices were coming in at £87 during the daytime, however at 11:45 on a Wednesday evening, I managed to snag the same flights for just £30.
Some airports are cheaper to fly from than others (East Midlands is nearly always extortionate, for example) so I suggest putting a little bit of time into finding out the cost of getting to another airport. From my personal experience of living in the Midlands, I can verify that you can shave off more than £150 by travelling from Luton rather than the Midland airports. With the train only costing around £40 (petrol and parking around the same) and the journey only taking 30 minutes more, it’s a no-brainer for me.
Booking your hotel online also comes with the good feature of having the exact address, which means you can look up your proposed destination before you book to ensure it is exactly where you want to be. You can then use this to find out the distance from train stations, bus stops and calculate taxi costs before you commit, ensuring your trip runs smoothly. Or if you are as obsessive as me, you can use this information to look via google street view and see if you like the area/ check out the walk to your surrounding destinations, minimising any nasty surprises on arrival.
Finally, book your travel insurance the same day you book your flights. It’s worth doing, not only in the unlikely event that you take ill or have an accident while you’re away, but because if your flights are cancelled or you can no longer make the journey, you are covered long before you leave home. Also ensure to check the maximum excess for your insurance, this is the amount you will be expected to shell out if you make a claim. If the excess is £250 yet you only paid £300 for the holiday and are taking nothing of great value, it isn’t worth making the claim should you need to. There are plenty of companies who offer a max excess of £50, sometimes even less. Travel Insurance, like flights and hotels, is easily compared through a comparison site and these will list the pros and cons of each policy, so make sure you choose the right one for you.