Thursday, 29 May 2014

HOW TO: Book a Thrifty Holiday!



I like to think I've built a bit of a reputation as someone who can plan a very thrifty holiday. Subsequently, as a result of my talents, I get roped into the role of 'travel agent' for my friends on a regular basis. But I don't mind, because I weirdly love the thrill of finding a good holiday bargain.  My personal bests so far have have included finding a flight from London to Poland for £4 (tax included) or some return flights from London to Morocco for just £40. Last summer, myself and Trig took off on a month long tour of the East Coast of America, starting in Oslo, moving through New York and Miami and the Bahamas, ending up in Mexico (and unexpectedly, Frankfurt, Germany) which we did, accommodation, flights and all, for under £1300 each. You can read more about that here, which in fact was my first ever blog post.

At the beginning of this year, I resolved to try and go somewhere exciting every month, which has been a hard task to live up to, but I am just about managing it. May was a bit lack lustre on the old adventure front, aside from a few work related trips to the capital, but June will more than make up for it with not just one, but two thrifty holidays. Next weekend, I'm going on a girly trip to Romania with three of my favourite girls, which we've done for a bargain £60 each, which is exciting as we haven't had an adventure since we all explored the beautiful city of Venice several years ago. The week after I'll also be jetting off for 5 days to Portugal with my friend Penny for around £100 for the week. Bring on the cocktails!

Like everyone, money is an issue for me, but my desire to travel and somehow balance all my responsibilities outweighs any need to hoard my cash. However, given the choice, I'd rather find a way to do both, so I've over time I've devised clever ways to stretch my pennies and still have some thrifty adventures.

Here are the best tips that I've picked up over the years;

FLIGHTS:

1. Gone are the days when 'all inclusive' meant 'exclusive' for those with loads of dosh. If you don't want to do all the searching for flights and accomodation yourself, there are a few sites that offer amazing deals. I found an all inclusive in Portugal during the winter months for £100, in a four star hotel for a week, including flights, on the Holiday Discount Centre, whose deals are ATOL protected (don't get stuck in Mexico like we did!) Most of the time though, it is cheaper to book things individually, and though its time consuming, its kind of fun when you get into it and start uncovering the bargains! Discount sites are gold dust for holidays too. Groupon, who are worldwide, regularly list lots of package deals with huge discounts, as well as sites like KGBdeals and Wowcher.

2. Use price comparison sites. This is obvious but there is no one trick to finding a cheap flight, it involves your time and lots of searching. Skyscanner is great because it allows you to type the general country you are leaving from rather than specify an airport, which is worth doing, because sometimes the difference is worth the extra train fare. It also allows you to type 'everywhere' as a destination, and choose an entire month to travel in, so if you're not picky about your exact destination or exact dates this can instantly identify the cheapest places to travel to.

You should also check out;

- Edreams (UK)
- TravelSupermarket
- Easyjet (for europe)


Another tip, if you are flying more than once, is to check for airline sites in the Country you'll be traveling from and try to use their websites. It's worth remembering that flight comparison sites charge you extra to make a commission, plus, there are often airlines that aren't featured on price comparison sites. I once searched on a Spanish airline site to fly from Barcelona to Portugal and found a flight for £14, even though the english price comparison sites were quoting hundreds. Just make sure it is ATOL protected!

2. Be aware that flights fluctuate depending on the time of year. It's much cheaper to fly between Oct - March compared to the summer months, because demand is higher for holidaymakers at that point in the year. So you can grab a bargain if you're willing to fly in winter, which lets face it, is when you're desperate to get away from the bad weather anyway!

3. Round the World trips with STA Travel - This summer, in late Sept, myself and Trig are flying from London to Istanbul, then onto Singapore, and up to Bangkok and then back to London, for £500 each. This is an absolute bargain and the only way we could do it was through booking through a round the world giant like STA, who get such great deals on these kind of flights. Round the world trips are amazing, as you get to see more and save on your flying, but be aware that you need to usually spend a minimum of 3 weeks away.

Accommodation:

1. My top tip of all time is most definitely Airbnb. We stayed in New York for five nights for around £100 for both of us in Upper Manhattan, in the most amazing apartment with amazing company, when hotels were quoting us 6 times that amount. There are other sites similar to this but I believe Airbnb is the most prolific. You essentially get the privacy of a hotel and a lock on your door, but in a real persons house or apartment (or sometimes you can opt to take the place for yourself). I always liked the idea of couch surfing without actually having to stay on someones couch, and this is it. You get to meet local people, and honestly, I don't think I would have stumbled on half the locally best kept secrets without this trick up my sleeve.

2. Price comparison sites are good for accommodation too, Alpharooms has proven to be one of the best for me, but also check out Travelsupermarket, and Booking.com.

3. You can sign up to be a house sitter and take on assignments across the world and get free accomodation in the process, in return for taking care of beloved pets, or just minding the property. This is equally great if you have pets yourself, we might be trying this if we ever need a sitter for our kitten, Jives! Check out TrustedHouseSitters where you can research assignments without signing up with the site.

4. Voucher and deals sites like Groupon often have cheap accomodation and hotel deals listed. Search for the relevant Groupon site in your area. If you're in the UK, Dealzippy is great because it lists most of the deals on other voucher sites (there are now so many!) in one place.

Another tip is to check out the Groupon site of the country you are traveling to, for tour or restaurant deals. We've eaten out in style by planning in advance and buying a few Groupons!

So there is a handful of my thrifty travelling tips! Enjoy - and happy travelling :)

Do you have any travelling tips? I'd love to hear them!

Don't forget to join this months Bloglovin Blog Hop!




Happy kids inc Bloglovin Blog hop May


Your Devoted Host:

Meg Hodson Happy Kids Inc Bloglovin' Blog Hop Blogging

Your Lovely Co-Hosts:

Nummy For My Tummy Bloglovin' Blog Hop Blogging    The Thrifty Firecracker Bloglovin' Blog Hop Blogging    I am the makeup junkie Bloglovin' Blog Hop Blogging


Life Between the Books Bloglovin' Blog Hop Blogging     Downsizing Ashley Blog Bloglovin' Blog Hop Blogging    A Moment in My World Bloglovin' Blog Hop Blogging


1.  Add your link directly to your Bloglovin' profile below.  You will have to manually upload a photo of yourself (it will not automatically input from Bloglovin').
2.  Please follow your host, co-hosts, and sponsors.  It just takes a few quick clicks and it is much appreciated!
3.  Visit a few other bloggers in the linky, say "hello", and give them a follow.
4.  Tweet and share this hop!


Twice The Mum Bloglovin' Blog Hop


Happy Kids, Inc.





32 comments:

  1. Great tips but let me tell you one thing! Here in Greece most of the times hotels make a better price than booking if you call them! I found one hotel room in the price of 74 euros and when I called they offered the same room for 60 euros!
    mariasbeautifulworld.blogspot.gr

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's really helpful Maria, thank you! I have always wanted to go to Greece. When I get that far I will definitely use this tip! x

      Delete
  2. Love this! It's so helpful since I'm working on planning a cheap summer getaway

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ahh thanks Marielle, I hope it helps :)

      Delete
  3. Thank you for sharing your travel tips! It's impressive how cheap some of the flights that you found are, I need to practice my thriftiness.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It just takes some dedicated searching! Thanks Kasi :)

      Delete
  4. This makes me want to go on a trip now!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Such awesome tips! My husband plays this role for all of our family as well! He should totally get licensed to become a travel agent!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's what people keep saying to me! Thanks for the nice comment :)

      Delete
  6. Great tips! We are planning a trip to Russia this summer and just booked out flights!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Alyssa! Hope you got a good deal!

      Delete
  7. I don't get to travel much, but I'll definitely come back to this when I do!

    ReplyDelete
  8. Good tips!!! I'm always looking for cheap ways to travel :)

    ReplyDelete
  9. Those are amazing tips, I want to check out STA now. AirBNB is so big here in San Francisco. I kinda feel bad for all the hotels, this must not be great news for them.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. STA are so good I can't believe how cheap they get their flights for! Can't beat them at all :) I know what you mean though about the hotels - but I guess its just a new market, doesn't appeal to everyone. It's still growing here in the UK, not as popular yet I don't think :)

      Delete
  10. Great tips! I definitely needed to read this!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Logan, I hope they are helpful!

      Delete
  11. I had never thought of being a house sitter someplace. That's awesome! I do frequent Groupon for deals though. :) Thank you!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Groupon is great though sometimes I find you can DIY the trips yourself even cheaper - so you have to know what is a good deal and what isn't on there! House sitting seems really good, i've yet to try it myself. Thanks for visiting :)

      Delete
  12. Great advice! I will keep this in mind!!

    ReplyDelete
  13. Love these tips! we probably wont be flying for awhile with the baby due soon! But man, can't wait to travel again!

    ReplyDelete
  14. Great tips Thanks for sharing!

    ReplyDelete
  15. Great tips! We don't travel often because it can become so expensive so these will come in handy!

    ReplyDelete
  16. Enjoyed reading these tips thanks for sharing I too like to book in advance and search for cheap options as well x

    ReplyDelete
  17. Love this post! Thanks for sharing these tips :) I have some new ones to try when we plan our next vacation

    ReplyDelete
  18. I love travelling and budget airlines are the best way to do it cheap! I recommend easyjet :)

    ReplyDelete
  19. oh these are some very useful tips! I don't travel often and don't always know where to start when I do want to go places, but these tips can definitely point me in the right direction.

    ReplyDelete