top tips for booking a cheap holiday

So, I think you all know how much I like booking cheap holidays by now and after completing 10 trips away in 2017, what would I say were my top tips for getting away for a good price?

Use search engines to find the cheapest dates to fly

Forget hitting search and hoping for the best prices on the dates you’ve searched for, websites like Skyscanner, Kayak and Google Flights allow you to see when it’s cheapest to fly to your desired destination.

I particularly like Skyscanner’s ‘cheapest month’ option.Screen Shot 2018-01-02 at 17.30.47.png

Be flexible with your location

If you’re not too sure where to go, Skyscanner and Kayak also allow you to see what locations are the cheapest for your timeframe.

Screen Shot 2018-01-02 at 17.31.20

You can do this by typing in ‘Everywhere’ for the destination on Skyscanner, or by clicking the ‘explore’ function on Kayak.

Always check comparison sites before booking your hotel

Trivago is a great option for checking you’ve got the best price for your hotel. My extra tip here is to always click on ‘More Deals’ and don’t just settle for the collection of prices they offer you. Whilst you’ll find prices from a variety of lesser known hotels, I recently saved an extra £20 by booking through them!

Screen Shot 2018-01-02 at 17.36.27Ask for an upgrade!

You know what they say – if you don’t ask, you don’t get. I ALWAYS email the hotel once when booking and again a few days before arriving to tell them how excited I am to stay and to let them know it’s a special occasion. Don’t feel comfortable with lying? You’re not. A holiday IS a special occasion and don’t you ever forget that! In the last year this trick has worked 3 times, the best being upgraded on a work trip from the smallest room in the hotel to a suite!

Don’t stay in a hotel

Airbnb has been around long enough that most of us know the huge savings that can be made from staying in someone’s home when abroad, however there are plenty of other option to check out as well. My favourites are windmu, ownersdirect, holidaylettings and homestay.

Sign up for cashback

I always say to not book just because of a good cashback deal (sometimes they don’t come through and you’re left feeling cheated) but you should definitely buy through cashback sites to earn a little bonus on all of your holiday booking. And don’t just stop at hotels and flights – you can save on travel insurance, car hire and a whole host of different areas as well. I use TopCashback and in the last year, I’ve earned more than £100 by doing absolutely nothing extra. Winner.

Check for codes before booking

Always check to see if there are any voucher codes floating around the internet. For example, if you were booking through hotels.com I’d search ‘hotels.com voucher codes’ and ‘hotels.com promo code’ on both Google and Twitter. It doesn’t always pay off but when it does, it sure feels sweet! Also, if you’ve never used Airbnb before you can usually get around £30 off your first stay if a friend refers you.

Get yourself free accommodation

What better way than to keep costs down than by getting your accommodation for free! Yes, free. Home and pet sitting means that owners have someone looking after their house and animals whilst they’re away and you get totally free accommodation (albeit with a sprinkle of responsibility thrown in there). I used a site called nomador to stay in a beautiful house in Paris for 14 days this summer, looking after a sweet cat called Biscotte. I loved it!

Hit the road

What happens when holidaymakers do a road trip from one place to another? A lonely campervan is left miles away from its home with no way of getting back. And that’s where you come in! Wickedcampersand Spaceship Rentals are amongst the companies that offer relocation deals where you could bag a vehicle from just £1 a day as long as you return it back to where it belongs. Heading to the US or Australia? Try imoova or jucy.

Sign up for error flight updates

An error flight is when some wally who works for head office/computer cocks up and posts a flight for a whole lot cheaper than it’s supposed to be. Airlines can refuse the flight and refund you your money but now and again they will honour them. Now, just happening on one of these bad boys is a bit like finding a needble in a haystack so instead websites such as Secret Flying, Jack’s Flight Club and Holiday Pirates are all on it – I’d recommend signing up to their facebook pages for updates and other holiday bargains in your social feeds.

Plan to be spontaneous

I know it sounds a tad hypocritical but if you see a great deal, you often don’t have much time to leap on it. Therefore, it definitely won’t hurt you to know who you’d like to go away with, know when they’re able to get time off, have their passport details to hand and know how you’re going to pay so that you can jump on a deal when it comes your way.

So there’s my top tips – I hope they bring you as much holiday booking luck as they have for me!

the final holiday – where are we going and how have we managed to afford it?!!

It’s here! The final one!

I said it was going to be epic and boy it is. The only issue is that darned budget… WHY DIDN’T I JUST MAKE LIFE EASY FOR MYSELF BY GOING ON A 5 NIGHT BREAK TO MOROCCO OR SOMETHING?!! I could have had cash to spare…

But alas, if you’re going to do something, do it properly.

I’m also going to be posting a video a day between now and Christmas (when we arrive home!) so you can find out if we bring it all in for the £1709 limit.

I’ll be honest, right now, it’s looking very, very close… Mostly because I haven’t even booked the last night’s accommodation yet… BUT I’M SURE IT WILL ALL BE FINE (breathe Chelsea breathe).

Tomorrow sees us taking to the city in the search for locals’ recommendations… Should be fun!

 

gdańsk was the city i never planned to love

I really did just book this because it was cheap.

I mean, with £16 flights and £33 for 2 nights in a cute, polished apartment, there wasn’t much to argue with.

But I actually didn’t expect to properly fall in love with its amber peddling, quiet majesty and old town charm.

With an exceptional array of places to eat, drink and be merry, Gdańsk is now officially my go to recommendation to all in search of a short and cheap (emphasis on the latter) European break.

So what are you waiting for? Get on Skyscanner and find that flight!

the paris vlog

So as well as general cat sitting, we also got out and about to enjoy the many sights of Paris!

Paris often splits opinion but my top tip would be to choose an area and really get to know it. In the past, this has been around Montmartre (still my favourite area) but this year we really enjoyed moseying around Le Marais – lots of cool shops and coffee stations – WHEN THEY’RE BLOODY OPEN. (Note, a lot of Paris go on holiday during August).

James had never visited Disney in any capacity before so we decided to pop along. We just wish it wasn’t on the day after a rather messy night out… Rollercoaster rides and tequila regret DO NOT GO WELL.

Since our cat sit was free, this trip cost a mere £50 – the price of our eurostar there and back. It also ticked off one of my ‘5 days or more’ stipulations. Get in.

With 3 holidays left to go, there’s £576.82 left in the kitty.

Bring it on.

how did we get this beautiful house in paris for free? | holiday seven

Felt more than a bit lucky with this one – but it’s a pretty simple trick for getting free accommodation in not just Paris, but many cities across the globe!!