How to save money when booking holidays

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Family walking on a beach

Choose wisely and you can definitely make savings on the cost of your summer holiday.

And don’t forget, Boundless membership gives you discounts with a variety of travel and holiday companies, ranging from Barrhead Travel and Hotels.com to Hoseasons and Lastminute.com – plus you can save on travel insurance with LV=. 

Find out more about Boundless and Boundless Plus membership


The long summer holidays are approaching and, as the cost-of-living crisis continues, we’re all looking for ways to save on our holidays. According to The Guardian, the average cost of accommodation in Spain is £123 per night, or £3,444 for a family of four for a week compared to £110 per night, or £3,080 for a family of four for a week in the UK. So the price of a holiday abroad compared to taking one in the UK isn’t that different. Do bear this in mind when choosing where to go.

 I recently went on an adult-only week-long holiday to Tenerife and pared down costs to save a small fortune. I want to share with you some of my money-saving tips, and plenty of other ways to have a great holiday and spend less.


How to save money when booking a holiday

Choose your dates carefully

This is hands down the biggest way to save on holiday costs. A quick search on the Mark Warner website for a seven-day holiday to Rhodes for two people on 22 June is £1,528 versus £3,238 on 27 July. June is less than half the cost! A big win, so make sure you consider carefully when you want to travel.
 
If possible, book your holidays during term time. You’ll be outside peak holiday time, so prices should be cheaper. Taking your children/grandchildren out of school is a personal choice, though, and a risk. You’ll have to apply to the headteacher for permission, and be prepared for the possibility of a fine from your local council of £60 per child per parent per week if you don’t receive it. Do your research and find out what ‘the costs’ and ramifications might be. There’s another benefit to choosing around these dates – the temperature in the Med is less aggressive in June and September, which is an important consideration for some.


Consider different locations

Boy standing by a lake

Credit: Getty

A summer holiday off the beaten track in a less fashionable location will cost less than a destination that’s on everybody’s wishlist. Consider, for example, countries like Bulgaria, Slovenia and Croatia. They’re all beautiful and all in the Mediterranean area close to the more expensive and popular countries of Italy and Greece. Also, consider African countries like Egypt and Tunisia for a lower-cost break while still enjoying all of the holiday benefits you’d experience in Europe – sun, sea, food, sights and more. However, be sure to check the latest travel advice before booking as the government advises against travel in some areas in these countries.

 
Likewise in the UK, there are areas where it costs much less to book hotels and Airbnbs, even in popular counties such as Yorkshire and Cornwall. Find accommodation in places like Filey in North Yorkshire and Penzance in Cornwall and you’ll likely save money compared with other towns. Both are beautiful towns (admittedly, I’m slightly biased as my Cornish home is Penzance).
 
If you enjoy a Centre Parcs break, do consider a French or Dutch Centre Parcs location – there’s quite a difference in price compared with the UK. I spent a week at the ‘Les Bois Francs’ parc near Paris during the summer holidays when my children were smaller. It was hundreds of pounds cheaper than the UK equivalent. We just had to pay slightly extra for the ferry and fuel to get there.


The difference between choosing full or half board

People doing cheers with cocktails

Credit: Getty

An all-inclusive resort isn’t always better value than half board or bed and breakfast. My recent Tenerife holiday was to a five-star hotel and the all-inclusive option was an extra £300 for a week. I chose the half-board option and my room bill – including one à la carte dinner, poolside drinks and extras – came to £180. We also spent a little money outside the hotel on snacks and drinks (even if you’re all-inclusive, you often have a night out for a chance of scene), but it was still definitely cheaper going for half board.


Book your holiday using a third-party travel agent

People waiting to travel with suitcases

Credit: Getty

Sometimes you can get extra discounts by booking your holiday through a travel agent rather than directly with a tour operator. I saved an additional £200 on my Tenerife holiday by booking via the travel agency Travel Club Elite as opposed to booking directly through Jet 2 Holidays. Note there is some loyalty discount baked into this discount as I always book my holidays using the same agents. Travel agents will often include an all-in price too, including luggage allowances and transfers to the hotel from the airport. These kinds of extra costs can catch you out, so it is nice having them tied up in a package – as long as it works for you.


Check the holiday discounts available through Boundless

Ferry with city in background

Credit: Brittany Ferries

Make sure you use whatever discounts are available to you. Your Boundless membership provides many holiday discounts with companies like Hotels.com, Brittany Ferries, Holiday Extras, Barrhead Travel and more. Do check to see where you might be eligible so that you can save as much as possible.


Consider booking flights separately to your hotel

There are often discounts available when you book with a hotel directly, using its apps or website. You can also add room and hotel spending to loyalty apps for even more discounts if you book with the same hotel group in the future. It also improves your chances of getting a room upgrade when checking in – this can be a great, unexpected bonus.


Travel insurance

The best time to buy your travel insurance is at the same time as booking your holiday, so that you’re protected if you have to change your plans. I use MoneySuperMarket to compare quotes and find the right policy. During this process it’s worth comparing single and annual policy costs. You may find a cheaper quote for year-round cover than for a one-trip policy, especially if you’re going on a longer holiday, quite far afield, or you’re an older traveller. If you travel more than twice a year, an annual multi-trip policy can be a good money-saving option.

But don’t forget that if you’re a Boundless member, you get 5% off public prices on LV= Travel Insurance – and more if you book online, too – so it’s always worth getting a quote from LV= as well. 


Don’t pay for plane seats

Family on a plane

Credit: Getty

I never pay for my plane seats. I find this an unnecessary extra cost as I’m not hugely bothered about sitting with the people who are in my holiday party. And if you’re travelling as a family, airlines will always do their best to seat you together.


Use reward bank accounts or credit cards to pay for your holiday and flights – and don’t forget cashback sites, too

If you have a credit card like the Platinum American Express, you’ll reap savings from cashback benefits if you use it to pay for your holiday. Another benefit of certain Amex cards, including the British Airways card, is that you receive Avios points in return for monthly spending. 

This particular card gives you free companion vouchers (although you will be required to pay taxes and this is annual spending dependant), plus Avios points, which can cover the cost of flights, or seat upgrades to business or first class. Just make sure you pay off these credit cards in full each month to ensure you don’t incur interest charges. If you have a cashback bank account – examples are Chase and Santander – you may also receive rewards for paying for your holiday with this.

Even if you don’t have accounts or cards with these providers, you may be able to book via a cashback rewards site such as TopCashback or Quidco, which count many holiday companies, airlines and hotels among their partners. 

Enjoy your summer holidays – I hope you can make some savings and put a little extra towards your spending money!


Do more with Boundless

If you're working in or retired from the public sector or civil service, Boundless has two great membership options to choose from: Boundless and Boundless Plus.

With Boundless, you get unlimited access or discounted entry to many of the UK’s top attractions including Kew Gardens and Wakehurst and WWT centres across the UK, as well as year-round deals on restaurants, holidays, shopping and much more. With Boundless Plus, you can enjoy additional benefits including unlimited access to Historic Royal Palaces sites, National Trust for Scotland places, access to the Ramblers' extensive group walks and routes, and peace of mind with roadside assistance and local recovery by LV= Britannia Rescue

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