Holidays & Travel

Insider tips for getting a holiday bargain in 2024

From staycations to far flung destinations – here’s some expert advice.

Is there a best time of year to book a holiday?
Family on vacation Is there a best time of year to book a holiday? (Alamy Stock Photo)

It’s never too early to start thinking about your next holiday plans, especially if you are planning to visit more than one country.

Whether you want to go long haul or need to travel in school holiday time, here, travel experts share some of their top tips for finding the best holiday deals.

How do we get the cheapest flights?

“If you’re searching the internet trying to find cheap flights, Google Flights is an excellent tool that can help you find some amazing deals,” said Nicky Kelvin, editor at large at The Points Guy.

“It also allows you to search a wide range of dates and multiple destinations at the same time. Low cost airlines will generally sell their cheapest seats first so getting in early will secure you the best deals. Other airlines’ prices can fluctuate greatly throughout the year and it’s always good to set alerts on Google Flights and wait for big sales which come around every few months.

Madrid (Alamy Stock Photo)

“If you know where you want to travel, you might want to check different departure airports, especially starting your trip in mainland Europe from places like Amsterdam, Oslo or Copenhagen where long haul business class flights, for example, can be astonishingly cheaper, even taking into account the costs of reaching that airport to start your flight.”

Booking staycations

Rob Debenham, travel expert and show manager at Destinations: The Holiday and Travel Show, said: “Websites like Travelzoo have such an array of bargains when it comes to staycations so make sure you’re receiving their regular updates.

“If you have a favourite hotel in the UK, do follow them on Facebook, Instagram, TikTok and X [the social media site formally known as Twitter] as often they’ll promote offers and flash sales.”

Long haul adventure

Booking in advance is often the best way to bag a travel bargain. Not only does it mean flights are cheaper but it means you can budget over the year.

Airport (Alamy Stock Photo)

“Attend events where you can get the very best travel deals. For example, at Destinations: The Holiday and Travel Show, we have some brilliant offers from our exhibitors which are only available at the show so you can bag discounted holidays and long haul trips and chat to real experts, with inside knowledge,” said Debenham.

“Signing up to websites such as The Points Guy is also a great idea – they give essential tips on gaining points and air miles and choosing the best credit cards to book with.”

School holidays

“Unfortunately for families, booking in the school holidays often means more expense so I would recommend booking all inclusive as much as possible,” Debenham said. “This is why often cruises are so popular as once you pay that one lump sum in advance you can eat, drink and do as much as you like (within reason).

“Travelling on a weekday can also save hundreds of pounds so if you’re not fixed to flying on a weekend, so take the opportunity to save.”

Europe

In the UK and Ireland we are incredibly lucky to be so close to Europe which has a wealth of holiday options available and cultures to experience.

“But, rather than going to the regular most visited places, choose destinations which are a bit ‘off the beaten track’ or are not ‘over-visited’.  We are seeing an increased popularity in Romania, Serbia and Montenegro lately,” said Debenham.

“And in general – be open minded to where you’re going. Have a certain ‘type’ of holiday in mind, whether that’s a beach holiday, a city break or adventure trek – but be open to where that might be.

“Pack light. Take as little baggage as you can so you don’t have to pay for excess baggage (though easier said than done especially when travelling with a family).”

Be weary of short cuts

“Be conscious of the fact that booking cheap flights direct with an airline and accommodation separately means that you aren’t covered under any of the rules of the Package Travel Directive, these only apply if you book a ‘package’ holiday with one company that consists of two or more travel services together, that are included in the ‘one price’ for the holiday. This can be a flight and accommodation, but not flight and an airport transfer (just to clarify),” said Debenham.

“You are covered under these regulations if you book with a bonded travel company, and they are covered under ATOL; this gives consumers financial protection on all package holidays. Destinations does its best to promote bonded travel companies, as this gives the very best financial protection to visitors who book at, and after the show with exhibitors.”