You may have thought that things have been a little quiet on here but it’s because I (okay fine, the housemate James) has been developing a brand new website and with it comes a new name and a new home
(Moment of silence for howmanyholidays – you’ve been good to me pal).
I give you…
The new home of money saving advice, trip itineraries and general cheap travel inspiration. Or at least, it will be once we the current situation is over 😬
howmanyholidays will keep running for the time being until all the blogs have been transferred over.
As always, you can keep up with what I’m up to on Instagram, Twitter and over on YouTube where there’s some brand new travel videos coming very soon (what can I say, I had quite the backlog and finally have time to edit them!)
Thanks for all your support with this blog but I’m so excited to create a site that will become the go to home for all your cheap holiday advice.
Remember to come and follow me over on Instagram for more holiday hotlines and a chance for your request to get answered for free!
And if you want to support what I do, come and check out my Patreon for extra perks like hotel upgrade templates and holiday itinerary planners!
Top tips for cheap summer holidays
Book your flights sooner rather than later
Long gone are the days when you could rock up to the airport on the day and ask for a cheap flight. The stats show that flights costs almost always go up in the last week before travel – and that’s before even taking into account travelling at peak times.
The fact is that the summer holidays are always going to be popular travel times and so waiting for the price to drop is always going to be a tricky game.
My advice is if the price is an ‘typical to lower’ than the average cost, then book knowing that you will have spent less than more than half of the people on your flight.
You can find this out by popping your flights into Google Flights, selecting them and looking out for their helpful price bar (though remember to check the flights on Skyscanner too as they can often be even cheaper!).
Hopper is also a good app that uses stats to predict whether it’s the right time to book.
Book a hotel with a good cancellation policy and then check for last minute deals
The good news is that it is still possible to score a last minute deal when it comes to your accommodation – hotels do not like leaving rooms empty and so last minute price slashes are known even in peak times.
However, there is an element of risk here and so a good way to get around that is to book a hotel with a good cancellation policy early. Some hotels will offer this as standard.
Then, closer to your holiday you can scour to check for last minute bargains and cancel your original booking if you find a deal.
Book a holiday rental insteadof a hotel
Whether it’s an apartment or villa with pool, the great thing about a holiday rental is how much money you can save by buying food, drinks and snacks for the duration of your stay!
If you want an Airbnb or villa, book early
Whilst many owners do higher their costs for peak times, some just have a basic rate that runs across the whole year. However, to find these cheap deals you’re going to have to get in and book early before someone else does.
And remember, if you haven’t used Airbnb before, you can get £25 off your first booking here!
If you want an Airbnb or villa and have left it late, get ready to haggle!
Similar to hotels, Airbnb hosts don’t want their place going empty so put an offer in instead!.
Read my full guide on how to haggle on Airbnb here – there’s even a template email to send!
Booking a package holiday? Do it yourself for less!
One of my favourite things to do is to use package holiday sites as a springboard for my own searching. If they’re advertising a mega deal, before you hit ‘click’, have a search for the flights on Skyscanner and accommodation on Trivago to see if you could do it cheaper – often you can!
What I also like about this is that it’s a simple way to discover cheaper flights to popular destinations and then you could always swap out their chosen hotel for something more you, or perhaps even a villa or an apartment.
Do bear in mind that if you’re booking your flight and accommodation separately you will not get the ATOL or ABTA insurance offered by most package holiday companies so make sure you’ve got travel insurance and buy on a credit card or a visa debit card for added payment protection on purchases over £100. Read up on more ways to protect yourself here.
House sit for free accommodation
Did you know that you can bag free accommodation by looking after someone’s house, watering their plants or even feeding their pets? I’ve done it twice and it is amazing.
There’s also a list of alternative ways to whittle down that price at the end too.
Get £25 off by booking with cashback
This isn’t supposed to be part of the work I’ve been recently doing with Quidco but I thought I would highlight here that you can get a £25 bonus plus cashback by signing up to Quidco and spending £250 on travel before 9th Feb 2020 by using this link.
Visit a non traditional summer holiday destination
Yes, I’m sure you’d to relax at the beach but if you’re really after a great value holiday, I’d recommend heading inland or to a city. As there’s less demand for these destinations, you could end up finding a much better deal and just because it’s not by the sea doesn’t mean you can’t score yourself a hotel with a pool!
Fly inland and travel to the coast another way
If you’re really gagging for that beach holiday try flying inland instead – big capital cities that aren’t on the coast are normally a good shout as there’s lots of flights going there – and then look at either taking the train or driving to the coast.
Whilst not a beach destination, we once took a 2 hour train in Italy to get between Rome and Perugia and it cost just £10 each and was a lush way to travel (though that may have something to do with the bottle of prosecco we took on board…)
The great thing about summer holidays is that it’s warm and you really don’t need to pack much. Make a clothes plan before you go away and stick to it. Use a big fabric backpack (this is what I use) that you’ll be able to use for flights with even the crappest allowances. If travelling in a group, book a suitcase between you for liquids if you really need them or order your liquids through click and collect at a Boots after security. Yep, THIS IS A THING!
I used to pack LOADS but now I love going travelling light – give it ago on your next holiday!
Not sure where you’re going to go? Use clever search enginetools
When you just want to get away, there are loads of search engine hacks that can help you spot a cheaper fare.
My favourite is the Ryanair fare finder which allows you to select date ranges. DREAMY.
WHY DOESN’T EVERYONE ELSE DO THIS??!!
Other search engines have great tools but a lot of them clump your searches into month blocks. This can be really helpful for August, but not in July when you only want to search for school holiday dates and the cheapest prices will obviously be those outside of that.
Here’s one way you can kind of hack your way around it – though it’s a bit long winded!
Kayak let’s you search for ‘anywhere’ and they also allow you state the duration of your trip – LOVE IT as it allows flexibility.
They also make out that you can search for 4 weeks around your selected date but it’s a lie mate.
Once you click search it forgets that date and then you can only select a whole month to search.
WHY ARE YOU TEASING US KAYAK?!!
However, I did find this helpful…
Once you’ve selected a destination, look to the right as this graph does allow you to toggle through the trip duration and you can spot where the cheaper prices will lie.
But then again, if you know what destination you want, you’ll also get this from the banging calendar view on Google Flights!
Google Flights also have a clever search tool that allows you to search for weekends, weeks and two week return flights in a certain month (though annoyingly we’re note quite at the summer holidays yet!).
On the homepage, leave your destination blank, click search, and then click into the dates and toggle over to ‘flexible dates’.
And as always, check your flights on Skyscanner before you book.
Skyscanner also allow you to search for ‘everywhere’ in a certain month but I’d like to see some more options from these guys in the future!
This week’s holiday hotline is a culmination of a few people asking for cheap summer holidays so I’m going to show you some of the deals I’ve rustled up for couples, families and groups of mates.
Remember, if you want to be involved with the next holiday hotline, make sure you’re following me over on Instagram.
Cheap summer flights from all over the UK
Before I give you some solid holiday options, here’s some cheap flights from all over the UK that might intrigue you but remember – check the accommodation prices before you hit buy on those cheap flights!
Berlin, Germany – 5 nights – Weds 19th Aug – Mon 24th Aug – £58 each Ibiza, Spain – 4/5 nights – Sat 8th Aug – Thu 13th Aug – £60 each Nice, France – 7 nights – Tues 28th July – Tues 4th Aug – £67 each Budapest, Hungary – 7 nights – Tues 18th Aug – Tues 25th Aug – £86 each Seville, Spain – 7 nights – Thurs 6th Aug – Tues 11th Aug – £86 each Porto, Portugal – 5 nights – Sun 26th July – Fri 31st July – £102 each Luqa, Malta – 9 nights – Tues 21st July – Thu 30th July – £106 each Faro, Portugal – 7 nights – Tues 28th July – Tues 4th Aug – £115 each
Copenhagen, Denmark – 5 nights – Wed 22nd July – Mon 27th July – £41 each Amsterdam, Netherlands – 5 nights – Wed 12th Aug – Mon 17th Aug – £48 each Prague, Czechia – 7 nights – Thu 6th Aug – Thu 13th Aug – £80 each Lisbon, Portugal – 7 nights – Thu 20th Aug – Thu 27th Aug – £107 each Barcelona, Spain – 5 nights – Sat 15th Aug – Thu 20th Aug – £110 each Luqa, Malta – 7 nights – Wed 12th Aug – Thu 20th Aug –£130 each Malaga, Spain – 8 nights – Wed 12th Aug – Thu 20th Aug – £136 each
Dublin, Ireland – 7 nights – Wed 5th Aug – Wed 12th Aug – £58 each Paris, France – 5 nights – Fri 7th Aug – Wed 12 July – £112 each Malaga, Spain – 7 nights – Wed 22nd July – Wed 29th July – £118 each
Milan, Italy – 7 nights – Sun 16th Aug – Sun 23rd Aug – £75 each Munich, Germany – 7 nights – Mon 3rd Aug – Mon 10th Aug – £76 each Girona, Spain – 7 nights– Sun 16th Aug – Sun 23rd Aug – £97 each Faro, Portugal – 12 nights – Sun 23rd Aug – Weds 2nd Sep – £105 each Dubrovnik, Croatia – 7 nights – Thu 13th Aug – Thu 20th Aug – £114 each
Amsterdam, Netherlands – 7 nights – Sun 9th Aug – Sun 16th Aug – £73 each Luqa, Malta – 7 nights – Tues 25th Aug – Tue 1st Sep – £75 each Krakow, Poland – 7 nights – Thu 13th Aug – Thu 20th Aug – £124 each Venice, Italy – 7 nights – Mon 27th July – Mon 3rd Aug – £156 each
Dublin, Ireland – 7 nights – Sun 26th July – Sun 2nd Aug – £44 each Amsterdam, Netherlands – 5 nights – Sat 25th July – Thu 30th July – £94 each Limoges, France – 7 nights – Thu 23rd July – Thu 30th July – £112 each Pisa, Italy – 7 nights – Fri 14th Aug – Fri 21st Aug – £118 each
Hopefully that will give you some ideas but let’s put a few of them into motion to show what cheap accommodation you could find as well.
Cheap summer holidays for couples
Berlin is a great example of non-traditional summer holiday destination that’s a lot of fun in the warmer months.
James and I went last August and had the best time zipping about the city of e-scooters, drinking bottles of beer out in the sunshine and even travelling out to one of the many lakes Berlin brags on its outskirts.
What’s more, there are loads of great 4 star hotels available for around £60 a night – even in the summer – though do check whether there will be aircon. Ours didn’t have any initially and it was SO WARM!
London to Berlin, Germany Weds 19th Aug – Mon 24th Aug £57 each
What’s more, if you book with Quidco you can earn 8.4% cashback if you book with a credit card, as well as qualifying for the bonus £25 back if you sign up with this link.
Without cashback – £204.50 each for 5 nights With cashback and bonus – £179.61 each for 5 nights
Cheap summer holidays for families
So, I’m going to show you hear how you can use package holiday sites to find a good deal but then book it yourself to save even more money.
Here’s a week long holiday to Mazagón, a beach town in Andalusia, Spain. The Mazagon hotel has a kids club, entertainment and a pretty bad ass pool (hello pirate ship and slides) and the price per night includes half board which should help keep your daily costs down.
I found this deal on loveholidays which is great website to use if you’re a fan of package holidays as I love the fact you can select multiple departure airports – for this I selected ‘Any North West’ – and that you can select a date but then add up to 5 days flexibility either side.
However, let’s take these details and break it down.
The total cost for a family of four comes in at £1460 – that’s £104 cheaper than booking it as a package.
That works out at £365 each.
Again, check out the cashback deal I’ve got running at the moment to earn a bonus £25 plus cashback on the hotel, meaning you’d save £117 pounds bringing the overall total in at £335.75 each.
It is worth noting that booking your holiday as a package can mean you can put down a small deposit (though in this case, LogiTravel also allow you to put down a small deposit for just your hotel) and that you won’t get the same insurance that comes with booking parts of your holiday together.
However, there are some straight forward ways to cover yourself – including buying on a credit or visa debit card and making sure your travel insurance covers insolvency.
Whether you’ve just caught me on Channel 4’s ‘Holidays Secrets: Is Last Minute Best?‘ or have stumbled across me another way, let me take a moment to say hello, my name is Chelsea and I’m a bit obsessed with searching for cheap holidays.
First things first, make sure you’re following me on Instagram, Twitter and YouTube for loads of cheap holiday tips.
I’ve got a new site in development at the moment so for now, let me show you a few posts that may help you save money on your next holiday.
You can also check out some discounts on your favourite brands here too!
I also do a weekly holiday hotline on Instagram where I ask you guys to submit your requests and then I go in search of the best deal for you.
You can check out the findings of my last hotlines here.
I also love capturing my own cheap holidays over on YouTube.
From now on, I’ll be selecting just one holiday query a week but I’ll be going IN on it, and covering all the bases.
If you want me to help you in the future, make sure you’re following me over on Instagram.
So, Amy’s been in touch, and here’s what she’s after.
End of March
Cherry blossom season
Flying from Manchester
As someone who visited Japan last year in cherry blossom season and booked it all pretty last minute – not advised, by the way – I know that this can be done!
Cherry blossom season is always super popular – with both tourists and the Japanese – and you can check out the best dates to visit the different areas here.
For 2020, Tokyo’s supposed to start flowering from 21 March and be in full bloom by 27 March.
But be aware that last year it came early and so it’s not quite an exact science!
I was so lucky as I found our flights for just £258 (ridiculous, I know!) and so the first hurdle is gonna be getting Amy to Tokyo on a budget…
Let’s do this.
So, as Amy wants the end of March, it does make things a bit pricier (it’s getting close to Easter!) so as a quick aside, if you can fly between Thurs 12th – Fri 27th March, you’ll pay £133 each less.
But anyway, onwards!
Tues 24th March to Tues 7th April Manchester to Tokyo Nippon Airways / Swiss Air £670 each
£670 may not seem a great price initially but actually, according to the stats on Google Flights, it’s not too shabby at all!
There is also a £469 flight on the 29th March yet the connections are a total horror show. But… I guess an option if you love flying and long layovers???!
What about other airports?
Alright, alright, I suppose I can help a few others out as well.
London – Tues 24 Mar – Tues 7th Apr – from £370 each
It does involves a long layover in Shanghai both ways but they do have a 72 hour visa pass for people in transit and there are plenty of hotels in and around the airport for that overnight layover on the way home!
There’s also this option with much shorter layovers for £433 each.
If you wanna fly direct, the best price is from Mon 16th for £780 but if you want to go later on like Amy, it’s going to set you back £979 each!
Edinburgh – Tues 24th Mar – Tues 7th Apr – £706 each
It does involve a 19 hour layover in Amsterdam on the way out but it’s timed really nicely for you to enjoy an evening there and get up with loads of time for your early afternoon flight.
Inverness – Tues 24th Mar – Tues 7th Apr – £630 each
Another long layover in Amsterdam on the way outbut again, a nice excuse for a quick trip there too!
Cardiff – Tues 24th Mar – Tues 7th Apr – £695 each
Once again! KLM with their Amsterdam breaks!
The hilarious thing is that if you were to fly direct from Amsterdam on all of these KLM flights it would cost MORE than any of these listed above. How does that even make sense?!
Normally I’d move onto accommodation but for exploring Japan, the rail pass is a very important component.
But first of all, what is it exactly?
The Japan Rail pass – also known as the JR Pass – is a special discounted ticket available for tourists. It offers unlimited travel on trains operated by Japan Railways Group and includes the high-speed service known as the Shinkansen, or the Bullet Train.
Can you find a discount? No. There aren’t any, so don’t waste your time looking for one (I did).
For a two week trip, I think 7 days feels too short and 14 feels too long but I think if you’re trying to save money, think about doing a stint in Tokyo either side of your travels (that’s what we did!) so you can go for the shorter pass.
However, I’m going put Amy down for the full whack – £319 each – just to cover all bases (and because I love to make life difficult for myself).
There’s no set website to buy your rail pass on – a load of third parties do this – but I can personally recommend Japan Travel Centre as they offer free delivery (they also offer free pick up if you’re in London which is what I did).
Top tip: You cannot reserve seats on most trains outside of the country so make sure you head to a travel centre when you arrive to get a seat! You’re travelling at peak times so it’s deffo worth doing this. More details are here.
I swear I’ll get to accommodation next but more important is to first work out where you want to go.
There are loads of great two week itineraries available online – one of my fave things to do is to look at a professional tour and then try to recreate it – but for the purpose of this challenge, I’ll be following this:
25th – 29th Mar / 4 nights / Tokyo 29th Mar – 1st Apr / 3 nights / Kyoto 1st Apr – 3rd April / 2 nights / Hiroshima 3rd April – 5th April / 2 nights / Osaka 5th – 6th April / 2 nights / Tokyo
This is loosely based on my own journey but do your own research and see what you fancy.
Here we go then! We finally made it!
As the flight arrives in a day later, we actually need to find 13 nights accommodation for this trip.
Given that the total for flights and a rail pass is already £931 each (jeez) this means we have £519 each left for places to stay.
That’s just £43.67 a night each.
Can we do it?
YES WE CAN!
Hold on a second…
Before we get into this, what I found was the best way to keep to budget in Japan was to change accommodation every couple of nights or so. This allowed us to explore new areas, work around a hotel’s busy calendar and also save money on some nights and splurge on others.
Due to this, I’d also recommend packing light. I actually only took my 45L Patagonia rucksack and James took a small wheelie case and a backpack. It made it so much easier.
Please be aware that Japanese rooms are MUCH smaller and if you’re staying in an Airbnb, it can feel pretty basic, but it’s a great insight into how many live in the city. Plus, make sure you check out some pod hotels because they are AMAZING/BIZARRE AF.
My top advice would be to get on trivago, enter your dates and just see what you can get for your money.
I’ve done some searching for you, but please do see the following places as a pick’n’mix selection!
Andon Ryokan – £84 a night / £42 each Pssst – make sure you’re signed in to Booking.com as the price can go down more!
Traditional Ryokan style (you sleep on fold out futons on the floor) but with a modern twist – and a cracking breakfast included too!
Bizarrely, the price is often cheaper for men than women on the same night. It can also fluctuate from night to night and as you have to fully check out in the morning, I’d only recommend this as a first night or last night in an area. But a great experience!
Check out when we stayed in this type of capsule in Kyoto here!
Today, British Airways have announced a flash sale on flights to and from London Gatwick. They’ve got over 200,000 seats up for grabs for £30 or less each way based on a return fare for journeys until 29th March 2020.
So, what have they got on offer?
Nice from £47 return
I cannot think of this place without recalling a VERY OLD episode of BBC’s ‘Wish You Were Here’ where he visiting and repeated the line ‘Nice is nice‘.
Just googled. That episode was on in 1999.
You can find your own deals here, or perhaps some of these work for you?
Click to book!
Verona from £47 return
Home of star crossed lovers, Romeo and Juliet, Verona holds many charms beyond its links to Shakespeare.
You can find your own deals here, or perhaps some of these work for you?
Click to book!
Amsterdam from £52 return
I can’t believe I STILL haven’t been to Amsterdam on holiday and for this price, it’s gonna be hard to say no. In fact… HAND ME MY PURSE.
You can find your own deals here, or perhaps some of these work for you?
So, a weekend getaway in a top 10 Christmas Market destination from just £81pp?
WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR BBZ?!
THE REQUEST: Boxing Day Flights to Moscow
From: London To: Moscow Dates: Leaving 26th Dec and coming back end of Jan Budget: £200pp People: 2
London to Moscow Thurs 26th Dec – Thurs 30th Jan Wizzair – small bag included From £167 each
You can also fly on Christmas day, returning on the 30th Jan for £138 each.
Please note: you will need a visa to visit Moscow which will cost around £100 and will need to visit their visa centre in either London, Manchester or Edinburgh and allow for at least 20 business days for it to process so do it sooner rather than later! There is also an urgent option but it will cost you a lot more. Here’s the info you need as a British national.
THE REQUEST: Christmas getaway from Manchester
From: Manchester To: Anywhere Date: Leaving 24th Dec Duration: 3-5 nights Vibes: Fun!
Fun you say?
Well, there’s no place quite as fun as Berlin!
Manchester to Berlin Tues 24th – Sun 29th Dec Ryanair – small hand luggage only easyJet – carry on case £99 each
This is the hotel that James and I stayed at this summer and we loved its cool, boutique vibes and most importantly the AMAZING breakfast place downstairs. The best bit about staying is that you can ring down to reserve a spot and not have to wait in their huge queues!!
However, if you fancy having your own space so that you can properly enjoy a cosy day in on Christmas Day, here’s a cute Airbnb that may suit too!
However, since this is for a mini honeymoon, let’s see if we can also find a great hotel choice.
Artemisia Domus 3 nights for £334 total Breakfast included
Fancy the best room in the hotel? It’s £165 a night for the King Suite with spa bath!
That’s everything fo this week’s holiday hotline.
Once again, I’m so sorry if I didn’t get to yours this week but make sure you’re following me over on Instagram to get involved with the next one!
If I’ve helped you out, or you fancy getting access to more perks (and more holiday hotlines!) then you can also support me over on Patreon for the price of a really average coffee once a month.
Until next time!
I have used some affiliate links throughout this article. They don’t charge you more, but if you book through them you’ll be helping me to continue my cheap travel booking hobbies. For full transparency, I earn about 10p if you book a flight through a link so… Yeah, I’m rolling in it la!
If you haven’t heard of the holiday hotline before, it’s something I do over on my Instagram stories where I ask you for what cheap getaway I can help find for you.
As I can only get to a few every week, I’ve decided to include how I go about finding deals so that even if you weren’t picked, there will hopefully be something here to help you with your own booking.
Well, as long as you don’t want a group trip to Amsterdam…
More of that coming up!
THE REQUEST: CHEAP Winter weekend getaway FROM MANCHESTER
From: Manchester To: Krakow/Finland/Latvia/Slovakia When: Jan/Feb weekend People: 2
Manchester to Krakow Fri 7th – Sun 9th Feb Ryanair – small hand luggage only £84
If you’d like a bigger bag, you can also fly with easyJet and Jet2 for £111 who both allow a carry on case.
Not interested in Manchester? Here’s where else you could fly to that weekend:
London – from £42 Liverpool – from £104 Glasgow – from £136
As Krakow is so good on the pocket, I always like to make the most of it by staying a lush hotel that I normally couldn’t afford.
PURO Kraków Kazimierz is that rare partnership of incredible style and incredible value, coming in at just £53.50 a night.
If you book with Hotels.com (who are currently offering the cheapest rate), you’ll also collect 2 nights stay as part of their loyalty programme. Once you’ve collected 10, you’ll get a free reward night!
However, if you’re wanting to keep the budget down, check out this cute little Airbnb instead which is just £32 a night.
You can get £25 off here if you haven’t used Airbnb before!
Between two, that means you could have yourself a cheap getaway from just £116 each!
THE REQUEST: GROUP GETAWAY TO AMSTERDAM
From: Liverpool To: Amsterdam When: 14th May Duration: 4 nights People: 10 Budget: £300 each
Liverpool to Amsterdam Thurs 14th – Mon 18th May EasyJet – who still allow small suitcases in hand luggage. Hurrah! From £59
Note: this price is for 8 travellers – unfortunately you can’t book 10 at a time on Skyscanner though interestingly, this price is cheaper than booking for just 2 people by a few quid!
Top tip: Most airlines will do group bookings and whilst unfortunately it’s for a minimum of 15 for easyJet, it’s definitely worth keeping in mind as most give you the option to confirm the names of all your passengers last minute. This can be slightly more costly than if you booked in advance, but it can really take the stress out of organising big groups.
Now, I’m a bit nervous about trying to find a place for ten people as Amsterdam is NOTORIOUSLY SPENNY when it comes to places to stay.
This isn’t because it’s a super expensive destination, it’s just really popular and places get booked up fast, thus driving the price up so my biggest tip if you want to visit is book sooner rather than later!
From a quick look on Airbnb, I could see that there was absolutely nothing coming in under budget for a large group.
By thousands of pounds 😬😬😬
Well, apart from this which looked very promising but after clicking through the pictures I stumbled on this:
Do not trust anything that directs you away from Airbnb! This is totally against the rules and I wouldn’t be surprised if this gets pulled sooner or later.
I did find this Airbnb which comes in just over budget but boy, it looks a bit bleak for the money… I mean, where are the windows??!
Anyway, on with the search!
Next, I went over too hometogo which is like the trivago of holiday rentals – it searches loads of different sites including Airbnb, Homeaway and Booking.com, and brings you all the options in one place.
However, that wasn’t bringing up anywhere either!
Time for PLAN B!
I’ve headed over to Booking.com’s apartments and what I’m looking for are smaller apartments that are in the same complex.
The only thing I found that could work was Cityden The Garden Amsterdam South – but if you haven’t clocked it from the name, it is 30 minutes from the city by public transport.
For 2 x two bedroom apartments (each has a sofa bed as well), the total cost would be £182.50 per person for 4 nights for ten people.
It looks lovely, but it seems quite far out, doesn’t it?
What about if we tried to find hotel rooms instead?
Just sneaking in – in budget – is the ibis Amsterdam City West. Whilst it’s still not super central, you’re not far from a metro that will get you to the main train station in a couple of minutes.
Selecting 2 x triple rooms and 2 x double rooms comes in at £221.80 a night each for 4 nights for ten people.
As a bargain hunter, I’m still not completely satisfied so my last search will be at the complete opposite that Sarah was looking for.
This time hopping over to hostelworld, where I find Clinknoord. A very well rated hostel in a fairly central location.
A 10 bed dorm with private bathroom for £179.30 each for 4 nights for ten people.
I’ve spent about an hour looking and these are genuinely the best deals I can find. So, do I have any final thoughts?
Just go somewhere else.
If there’s one thing I can’t stand is paying a lot of money for something not that good.
Spending just 5 minutes looking at alternative options, I’ve already found flights from Liverpool to Barcelona for £91 and numerous apartments in the centre of the city that easy house 10 people.
If you’re adamant that you want to go to Amsterdam – then find the accommodation first. Go to Airbnb and whack in your amount of guests without the dates. Find what you want and then check to see if it’s in budget, and when it’s available.
Then check for flight prices.
I hope that’s been on some help!!!
THE REQUEST: OCTOBER BUDAPEST WEEKEND FOR TWO
From: London To: Budapest Dates: 11th – 14th October People: 2 Budget: £200
London to Budapest Fri 11th – Mon 14th Oct Wizzair – small hand luggage only £107
Plus, as the cheapest price is with Hotels.com at the moment, you’d earn yourself 3 nights on their loyalty rewards programme where you get your 11th night for free.
However, I don’t think anything is gonna beat this BEAUTY from Airbnb which costs just £50 a night including fees.
(You can even get £25 off here if you haven’t used Airbnb before!)
Check out those high ceilings!
Between the two of you, that brings your three night trip to Budapest in for £182 each.
Okay, time for one more!
THE REQUEST: 50TH BIRTHDAY BREAK IN NEW YORK
From: Manchester To: New York Dates: April Duration: 5 nights People: 2 Details: 4* – it’s ma birthday innniiitt (okay fine Angela didn’t add that bit)
For this, I want to show you a brilliant function that Google Flights has.
As you can see above, once you pop your dates in, you can toggle the duration of the trip at the bottom which will really easily show you the best prices for the month you’re after.
THANK YOU GOOGLE.
So I’m going to go for the trip starting on the 22nd April et voila, a direct fare to New York with Virgin for just £319.
(Shit, people are going to start to realise that my cheap holiday skills aren’t that difficult to grasp… 🤣)
However, whilst Google have done the hard job for us here, they don’t always show the cheapest prices and so my next step is to put the dates into Skyscanner, and this is what comes up.
£302?!! YES PLEASE.
The reason Skyscanner is able to offer this cheaper is because, as you can see above, you’re actually buying from a third party. They are the exact same flights that you could book direct with Virgin, it’s just that these companies often offer discounts to entice you in.
Skyscanner do vet all their third party companies and clearly show how customers rate them.
I’ve used them many times before and have only once had an issue when the price had increased and so they returned my money. In hindsight, I should have known it was going to happen as the fare was half the price of what everyone else was offering 🤣 (god loves a trier!)
Okay, so we’ve got the flight, now onto…
Now, Angela wants 4* and as someone who’s often cursed the prices of nice hotels in New York, I’m gonna do something a little rogue here…
🎉 CUE PACKAGE HOLIDAY 🎉
Since our flight is with Virgin, it does make me wonder if Virgin Holidays will have a good deal for these dates…
The cheapest deal is at Row Nyc for £912 per person (other sites list it as a 4 star but Virgin use their own rating system).
To work out if that’s a deal, we need to pop to trivago and whack in the same hotel.
Once I click through, I can see that Travel Republic are offering the room for 5 nights for £857 – which once split between two and added to the flight price comes in at £730.50 per person.
FFS VIRGIN HOLIDAYS.
I WAS ROOTING FOR YOU.
WE WERE ALL ROOTING FOR YOU.
However, before we call it a day, I want to see if I can find a slightly nicer hotel for Angela.
ANGELA’S 50TH DESERVES MORE THAN A 6.5 RATING OKAY?!
So this time sticking to trivago, I’ve whacked in the dates and used the filters to find us a 4* hotel with at least a 7.5 guest rating.
A Queen Room at the Westgate New York City is coming in at £148 per night on loveholidays (it’s £267 on Booking.com!)
And finally, this Queen Room at Hotel Indigo Lower East Side New York is just £185 a night if you book through loveholidays.
This hotel is GORGEOUS – check out the photos on Booking.com (in my opinion, they have the best gallery!) and also check out how much more expensive it is if you book with them 👀
This would cost £764.50 each for everything.
Have a great 50th birthday, Angela!
That’s everything fo this week’s holiday hotline.
Once again, I’m so sorry if I didn’t get to yours this week but unfortunately the business of finding the best deals isn’t quick work!
Remember, you can get involved in the next holiday hotline by simply following me over on Instagram and looking out for it on my stories.
Until next time!
I have used some affiliate links throughout this article. They don’t charge you more, but if you book through them you’ll be helping me to continue my cheap travel booking hobbies. For full transparency, I earn about 10p if you book a flight through a link so… Yeah, I’m rolling in it 😂
It’s time for this week’s holiday hotline where I ask you to submit your requests via Instagram and I go on a search for you.
If you’re not following me already, head on over and you can be part of the next one!
Let’s see what we’ve got this week.
REQUEST: Family European Christmas Markets for less than £150 each
So, for today’s main Holiday Hotline deep dive, we’re getting festive. Yes, in June. But I’m all for people getting their plans together for some super cheat Christmas Market getaways.
So, let’s hear what Fiona is after:
European Christmas Markets
28th Nov – 1st Dec 2019
From London Stansted (and flight back not too late)
2 adults & 2 thirteen year olds
Flight & accommodation needed
£100 – £150 each
I’m gonna give Fiona two options. One will be a well established Christmas Market, the other will be less known – but cheaper.
For this, I went straight to European’s Best Destinations ‘Best Christmas Markets in Europe 2019‘ list. Seeing Tallinn as number one, I got VERY excited however there are no direct flights for Fiona’s dates. BOO.
So instead, I’ve opted for the capital of Czechia, Prague, which is sitting snugly at number 9.
Important: the main Christmas Market in Prague does not open until Saturday 30th November 2019 HOWEVER, the Prague Castle Christmas Market opens from 23rd November 2019 and there’s so much to see and do in the capital at all times of the year so I’m sure Fiona will find plenty to see and do!
Flying from Stansted, there are loads of flights to choose from for as cheap as £57 each! However, I’d personally either go for the £69 flight (to make the most of the first day) or the £107 flight (for great flight times there and back that mean no early mornings!!)
London Stansted to Prague Thurs 28th Nov – Sun 1st Dec From £57
As Fiona is looking for 2 adults and 2 teenagers, I think Airbnb is the perfect choice here.
I found this gorgeous apartment with great reviews which is within walking distance to both the Old Town and Wencelas Sq where both of the main Christmas Markets are.
What’s more, you check yourself in with a lockbox meaning that you don’t need to plan your day about meeting someone at the apartment.
Opening on 22nd November 2019, Fiona will be able to enjoy the markets straight away and having spoken to a friend who used to live in Wroclaw, she said the main square looks pretty magical come Christmas time!
What’s more, Poland is ridiculously well priced and so your money will go really far here.
Again, a few choices but I’d go for the third one down if it was me to make the most of the trip!
London Stansted to Wroclaw Thurs 28th Nov – Sun 1st Dec From £45
You can definitely find cheaper (this newly listed £38 a night 2 bed for instance) but I just had to share this apartment which is just SO BEAUTIFUL – especially for the price!
Or, if you want somewhere cheap (but still lovely!)
Airbnb 1 bedroom – 2 beds – 1 bath £46 a night (you can get £25 off here if you haven’t used Airbnb before!)
Opting for the Airbnb means you could bag yourself a 3 night Christmas stay in Tallinn for two from just £123 each.
REQUEST: Reykjavik accommodation in December
Next up is a request from Boudicca who’s after:
19th – 22nd Dec
Having returned from Iceland back in March, I’ve got a bit of a feel for what kind of accommodation there is on offer in Iceland’s capital.
A great option if you’re wanting to save money as many have free breakfast and shared kitchen facilities so that you can prepare food for the day ahead
Don’t baulk just yet – many offer private rooms and offer a vibrant bar with plenty of happy hour deals. Plus, many have kitchen facilities too.
Often at a similar price to the two above but you may not get any of the extra facilities that can help when you’re saving money. And if you want somewhere fancy, expect to pay a lot!
There are plenty of Airbnbs but for your own place, expect to pay more than an average hotel! But worth a browse as plenty of guesthouses and private rooms are on here too.
Here’s a couple of good value options I found for Boudicca’s dates:
Hlemmur Square – Hostel Private Room with private bathroom Shared kitchen 0.5 miles to city centre £72 a night
If you’re willing to spend more, this place has also got some really beautiful rooms that still allow you to embrace the fun that comes from staying at a hostel, and the shared kitchen facilities for saving money down the line.
Hotel Reykjavik Lights – Hotel 4 star Free breakfast 1.7 miles from city centre £66 a night
Now, Boudicca didn’t actually mention a budget so let’s go WILD and throw in a pricey but alternative option too.
These are a 22 min drive north of the airport (and 5 miles from the Blue Lagoon) and are luxury cabins that offer a view over the harbour in Grindavik. They also have plenty of space saving gadgets so if tiny houses are your kinda thing, this place is for you.
Yes, it’s pretty pricey but hey, what’s wrong with a big of cabin porn to peruse for fun?! If you are interested in spending your hard earned cash on a night here, I’d recommend giving Matt D’Avella’s video of them a watch.
Another hotel that I absolutely DROOL over is the Ion Adventure Hotel which is a 50 min drive from Reykjavik set in the middle of nowhere.
But at £299 a night… Perhaps we’ll just stick to looking at it online.
REQUEST: 5 night sunny September getaway for under £250pp
I couldn’t not pick Becky’s request after she sent the most beautifully laidd out summary of what she was after. Just look at it:
So, I’m thinking FRANCE. I’m thinking COASTAL. I’m thinking:
Biarritz is a popular beach resort right at the bottom of the west coast of France. Wiki calls it ‘elegant’ whilst it also retains a youthful edge as a major surfing destination.
What’s more, my Mum and Dad go all the time and say it’s lush.
In September you can still expect an average temperature of 24 degrees and you’re also just a 45 min drive (or bus!) to San Sebastian in Spain which is revered for its food. What a great day trip that would make!
London Stansted to Biarritz Weds 11th Sep – Sun 15th Sep £40
Thanks to those cheap flights, that leaves us with just over £400 to find some nice accommodation for 5 nights.
Airbnb 1 bedroom – 1 bathroom Fantastic central location Self check in £59 a night – £295 total (you can get £25 off here if you haven’t used Airbnb before!)
Picking the Airbnb, this trip would be just £187.50 each for Becky and her mate.
That’s it for this week’s holiday hotline. If I didn’t get you then I’m SO SORRY but blimey, there was a lot of you to get through and I hope I can help you out in the future.
If you fancy being involved with the next one, make sure you’re following on Instagram and checking on my stories.
I have used some affiliate links throughout this article. They don’t charge you more, but if you book through them you’ll be helping me to continue my cheap travel booking hobbies. For full transparency, I earn about 10p if you book a flight through a link so… 🤣
Once a week, I open up the holiday hotline to see what travel queries I can answer from you guys.
So let’s see what’s on the cards this week!
THE REQUEST: 3-5 nights in Ljubljana in July or August
Will got in touch and gave me the following brief:
Flights & accommodation
Based in Shrewsbury but can fly from anywhere
Slovenia’s capital, Ljubljana, is getting some real traction at the moment and with the average cost of a pint coming in at £2.20, I CAN SEE WHY!
There’s lots to see and do in the city and you’re also not too far from the devastatingly beautiful Lake Bled!
Since Will is coming from Shrewsbury, his nearest airports are Liverpool, Manchester, Sheffield and Birmingham. Unfortunately, only Manchester flies direct and DAMN it’s expensive (and only once a week). However, I have found a couple of cheap one stop options from Manchester – albeit with lengthy layovers in Brussels.
This means that this 3 night getaway could cost Will and his travel partner as little as £178 each – not too shabby, eh?
THE REQUEST: September mini moon with beautiful views
Joanne asked for:
I’ve been lusting after this hotel for AGES so please Joanne, go live out my dreams for me!!
Gillham Vineyard Hotel Cyprus Adults only (the mini moon dream????!) Rates start from £114.47 and come with breakfast and a bottle of wine Half board options are also available
The restaurant on site is great, and you’re not too far to head out in a hire car to explore what other foodie options Cyprus has to offer! I’d recommend looking at the Rose Suites which come with their own balcony overlooking the vineyard – and the great news is that they’re not even the most expensive type of room!
THE REQUEST: Family accommodation for £150 total in school holidays
So this next one for Abbie is TOUGH! She’s after:
Between 25th July – 31st August
2 adults and 2 kids
£150 all in
I tried using Ryanair’s fare finder but the closest cheap flight I could find in this date range was £33.80 return to Dortmund in Germany which would have only left £14 for the accommodation…
So it looks like it’s going to be a UK stay!
Whilst this is a super tight budget, the good thing is that you can search ‘United Kingdom’ on Airbnb and then bring down your budget.
I’ve popped in £50 a night and here’s what I’ve found that wasn’t a tent in a field (honestly way too many of them on Airbnb???)
Airbnb – 2 double rooms Tillicoultry – 20 min drive from Stirling, Scotland £46 a night (you can get £25 off here if you haven’t used Airbnb before!)
Airbnb – 2 double rooms Blantyre – 20 min drive from Glasgow, Scotland £46 a night (you can get £25 off here if you haven’t used Airbnb before!)
Whilst this one has no reviews yet, this is a great way to bag a place for a cheaper price as the cost is usually low as they try to get their first bookings!
Another great website to try searching is hometogo which is the world’s largest holiday rental search engine.
Unfortunately there wasn’t anything available coming in at under £50 a night – but it’s definitely one worth checking in the future if you’re after an apartment or villa. Airbnb is not the only option!
My last search was on trivago as it could be that we could swipe a family room for a good price!
Holiday Inn Aberdeen West Aberdeen, Scotland Queen room with sofa bed £43 a night
Hampton By Hilton Aberdeen, Scotland Family room with free breakfast £50 a night
Holiday Inn Express Stafford Stafford, England Family room with free breakfast £54 a night
Okay, perhaps Aberdeen and Stafford aren’t the most ‘traditional’ holiday destinations, but both would serve a great base for exploring the area!
Now these don’t work for the exact dates but house sitting can mean totally free accommodation so if you wanted to get out of the UK, this may be a good option to look into.
I’ve used Nomador twice before (it’s free to sign up and message three owners) and from a quick peruse I’ve found two housesits in France that could work a treat. One even has its own pool!
Here’s all my tips on bagging that free house sit!
THE REQUEST: One night cosy UK stay for cheap
This one comes from Roushan who’s after:
End of July
Easy to get to from London
Cosy to chill in
If you’re after super cheap, a really good place to look for a cute place is definitely Airbnb as you’re likely to get much more space for your money – and if you’re lucky, you may get an additional living room space to chill out in.
To help narrow down the search, I’ve decided to look for Saturday 27th July 2019:
Airbnb – Farm Home Annex Stanton near Bury St Edmunds – 1 hr 47 mins drive from London £49 a night (you can get £25 off here if you haven’t used Airbnb before!)
B&B in Georgian House Wymondham near Norwich – 2 hour drive from London £65 a night (you can get £25 off here if you haven’t used Airbnb before!)
Airbnb – Studio flat Thorpe Langton – cute village in Leicestershire – 2 hour drive from London £64 a night (you can get £25 off here if you haven’t used Airbnb before!)
Whilst the next options aren’t quite as cheap, they’re much closer to London and they also tick the ‘couples break’ box really well as they both feature on Mr and Mrs Smith – a hotel site that compiles chic stays for romantic getaways.
Aviator Farnborough – 1 hour 30 mins drive from London Views across their private airfield £105 a night
And finally, I’m adding in this one because you can get there via the overground from London meaning you’ll cut down significantly on your travel costs.
The Crown Hotel Amersham – Zone 6 on Metropolitan Line (peak – £7 / off peak = £4.10) This was the inn from Four Weddings and a Funeral! £122 a night
I’ve stayed at this place before and it just serves up so many country pub vibes. I loved it!
Not quite as close for Roushan but still worth sharing are:
Sean’s off to Seville with his mates and has already bagged himself some cheap flights. So what does he need?
Accommodation for 4 people
5 nights between 4th – 9th Sep
3 beds – no sofa beds
This was actually a lot harder than I thought it would be, but here are some great value options that I rustled up:
City Centre Sevilla ARCO MACARENA £543 total – £135.75 each
This apartment currently doesn’t have many reviews so maybe it’s worth enquiring and asking if they have any more reviews (they may have this listed elsewhere!) before booking. However, what they lack in reviews they make up for in PRICE!
Airbnb £565 total – £141.65 each (you can get £25 off here if you haven’t used Airbnb before!)
And whilst the next one would cost £314 each, I couldn’t resist click on this place 😍😍😍
Luxury loft with pool in Seville centre £1259 total – £314.75 each
And because I couldn’t resist, I did two quick ones on insta as well:
And the great news is that unlike Ryanair and Wizzair, TAP still allows 8kg for hand luggage (55x40x20), as well as an additional small personal item- such as a handbag – up to 2kg.
Accommodation wise, Amy was looking for somewhere lux for her and her girls (and didn’t mind paying for the pleasure) so I recommend getting on trivago, whacking in 5 stars and seeing what she can find in budget. I’m also a big fan on the Telegraph’s best hotel lists.
But if their own places is what they’re after, these options are pretty nice too!
Designer Penthouse Apartment 4 bedrooms – 5 bathrooms £665 a night – £332.50 total each
I initially found this as one of Airbnb’s ‘plus’ range (‘hand picked high quality homes known for great reviews) yet I actually found it on tripadvisor for £400 cheaper across 3 days! (Always shop around!!)
Stylish apartment with terrace 5 bedrooms – 3 bathrooms £527 a night – £263.50 total each
Lastly, Abi asked about car insurance and my tips are always:
Check if local firms are cheaper (you may need to use Google Translate for this!)
When chosen, opt for the basic insurance package
Buy additional excess insurance from moneymaxim separately – you will save a FORTUNE and it’s fully endorsed by Martin Lewis and his crew
We saved £54 by doing this on a recent 4 day car hire in Croatia!
THAT’S A WRAP!
Again, so sorry if I didn’t get around to your request but I hope the above may have given you some tips or offered some general holiday inspo that you may be able to use in the future.
Make sure to give me a follow on Instagram if you want to be involved in the next one – and let me know if you end up booking any of these!
Let’s end with a photo of me drunk, sat in a basket from my holiday in Croatia last week.
I have used affiliate links throughout this article. They don’t charge you more, but if you book through them you’ll be helping me to continue my cheap travel booking hobbies. For full transparency, I earn about 10p if you book a flight through a link 🤣
One time it may be a 10 minute job, the next you may spend hours going round in circles, feeling like you’re the main character in a heist movie.
This post is a little epic (Homer eat your heart out) as I wanted to compile all the information in one place so I definitely recommend saving for when you’re about to book and then clicking on the scenario that’s most relevant for you:
This post does include some affiliate links. They won’t boost the price for you, but they will help me to continue running this site!
Before we get cracking, here’s a few things to bear in mind off the bat:
Always do your searches in private or incognito mode so that sites don’t inflate prices that you’ve searched repeatedly. This isn’t always needed, but it doesn’t hurt to use it as standard.
If you’re spending more than £100 per ticket, always book on a credit card as you’ll have payment protection if the seller goes bust, or the product isn’t as described
WHEN YOU’RE FLEXIBLE ON DATES AND DESTINATION
Head toSkyscanner, type in your departure airport, click on ‘whole month’ and then select ‘cheapest month’ for your dates
You can also type in just your city, e.g. ‘London’ or country, e.g. ‘United Kingdom’, and tick ‘add nearby airports’ for even more options
If you’re overwhelmed by results, try selecting whole months instead
Good to know: Skyscanner vets all of the travel agents they use and monitor them closely.
Similar to Skyscanner, you can useKayak’s flight page to search ‘Anywhere’, however more fun is their ‘explore‘ function which can be accessed by clicking on ‘explore’ in the homepage’s menu (this may be hidden in ‘more’) and pop in your date range and duration
Here you’ll gain a map view of potential destinations which is a great visual tool!
(Skyscanner actually has amap view too but… I prefer Kayak!)
Head toRyanair’s Fare Finder – yes, you can only search their flights but the search options are AMAZING. If only all sites had this functionality!
First things first, get past the initial page as you can really tailor your search on the next page
What I love is that not only can you search ‘anywhere’ and ‘anytime’, but you can also look at the next 3 months and, my favourite, date ranges!
Before booking, check your chosen flights onmomondo – sometimes they’ll find cheaper prices, though this tends to be for long haul flights
momondo seem a bit more relaxed on the travel agents they use (hence, the greater range of prices!) so if you’re feeling nervous, check their rating ontrustpilot
WHEN YOU’RE FLEXIBLE ON DATES BUT KNOW THE DESTINATION
Head toGoogle Flights, type in your destination and click ‘reset’ on the dates to reveal a calendar that clearly shows you the best prices
Don’t worry if you don’t know your trip duration, the calendar shows all options so just ignore this at the bottom
What is fantastic about Google Flights is that once you’ve selected your dates, you can also add in a range of filters including bags, stops and times that really help when you need to be specific.
It also suggest tips, such as the fact you can fly the same route Premium for £753.
Google Flights is amazing for spotting patterns of when cheap flights land however, they often do not show the cheapest prices so once you have your dates, remember to check against Skyscanner and momondo
Head to Skyscanner, type in your intended destination, click on ‘whole month’ and then select ‘cheapest month’, or, if you know what month you’d like to travel, select that instead
Similarly, you can try Kayak’s flight page which allows you some flexibility on your dates but personally, I prefer Skyscanner’s offering
However, there is a weekend option which is good for finding those annual leave friendly flights
Also, I really like the explore option that allows you to search a map
The explore function also has a ‘holidays’ option that lets you search school holiday dates
Once more, before you book, do check your chosen flights on momondo as you may be able to get a cheaper deal here
WHEN YOU’RE FLEXIBLE ON DESTINATION BUT KNOW YOUR DATES
Head to Skyscanner, type in ‘everywhere’, and then pop in your dates
Head to Kayak and peruse their explore function to visualise where you could go on a map!
Again, remember to whack in your chosen details into momondo as you may save a few bob using this site
WHEN YOU KNOW YOUR DATES AND THE DESTINATION
Head to Google Flights, fill in what you want and use their clever filters to navigate the best price once you’ve added all your preferences – check in bags, departure times, stops, etc.
This is handy as other search engines may only allow you to search these extras once you’ve selected a flight and so if a particular airline has a cheap fare but an astronomical price for luggage, you’ll be able to spot that using Google easier
Once you have this knowledge, or if you simply want the cheapest of the cheap, head on over to Skyscanner and momondo to double and triple check the costs
As flight prices can go up and down, it can be sometimes difficult to gauge if you’re getting it for the cheapest price possible. Whilst there’s a lot of theories about when is the best time to book, on a Sunday for example, but it often comes down to market demand – which can be very hard to plot!
However, a more scientific way to gauge this is using apps and the Hopper app uses stats to tell you whether to pounce or wait it out
I’ve used the app for over a year now and I will admit that I have totally ignored it’s warnings, and gone on to find cheaper flights, HOWEVER, what it is very good for is flagging when you’ve found a KILLER deal – particularly on long haul
I’ve also picked up that in general, the closer you get to the date of departure, the more expensive it’s going to get. Just because a flight isn’t sold out, doesn’t mean they’re going to flog the seats for cheap. I once paid £355 (okay fine, work paid) for a last minute flight to Luxembourg and when I got on board, there were only 10 other people on it!
You still with me? Good. Because now is the time to reveal all those little tricks I’ve picked up over the years that can save you hundreds of pounds.
They won’t all work for your specific trip, but what I hope they’ll do is help you develop alternative methods that will not only help you save money, but make you feel like a TOTAL TRAVEL GURU!
Here we go.
THE ULTIMATE CHEAP FLIGHT CHECKLIST
Find your accommodation first
Well. This isn’t what you expected, was it? But before we get down to the nitty gritty, I wanted to just pop my head up and go ‘yes cheap flights are brilliant and all that but…’ – do not let a cheap flight distract you from the fact that accommodation tends to be the biggest cost when going away.
SO. Do have a look at that first because if it means paying an extra £50 for your flight, it will be well worth it if your accommodation is £300 cheaper for that period
Top tip: It can be hard to find when hotels are cheap so why not look at Airbnb instead? Whilst there’s lots of choose from, I recommend their ‘Plus‘ range (the creme de la creme of Airbnbs) or try googling ‘best Airbnbs in New York‘ (replace with city of choice, obvs). These places do get booked up quicker but you can use their availability calendar as a starter for dates, and have the peace of mind that you’re staying somewhere lush
Oh go on have another tip: the Airbnb app displays the prices in a calendar format but the website doesn’t so definitely get that bad boy downloaded for the easiest way to see prices
Sometimes ticking ‘search for nearby airports’ isn’t enough – you need to manually search for alternative airports
For example, did you know that you can reach Birmingham International airport for as little as £7 and it’s only 1 hour and 10 minutes away from London?
I used this trip when I needed to find a cheap flight from New York to Miami. Everything was so expensive, but then I discovered that I could fly from Long Island (just over an hour’s train away from NYC) for just £30! I saved myself so much money.
Book a multi-city trip to fly from/return to a different airport
Travel jargon alert – when you fly from and back from different airports, this is called an open jaw flight
If your flight is coming up pricey, it may be that one of your legs is much more expensive than the other. Therefore, why not look to see if you could swap the pricey one to/from a different location?
I did this when flying to a wedding in Perugia. The flight out was £30 – SOUND AS A POUND LAD – but the flight back was £270. WITH RYANAIR. I was horrified. So instead, I looked at other Italian airports within a two hour radius and not only did I find a flight back from Rome for less than half the price, it was also BUSINESS CLASS 💁♀️💁♀️💁♀️ (could literally not be more smug).
What’s more, the train from Perugia to Rome was a chilled two hour £10 trundle through the Italian countryside with a bottle of prosecco. As I said. Smug AF.
Turn your connection into another destination with multi-city
Does your long haul flight have a stop? Then why not turn that stop into another destination?
Using the multi-city function, enter the flight details that you’ve been presented with flight by flight but instead of a measly 3 hour stopover, change the date so that you can spend some time in that destination instead.
So often this will cost the same, or even, if you’re lucky, even cheaper!!
Flying to an International hub? Super serve your holiday by adding another destination!
If your destination also happens to be one of the world’s largest airports – think Atlanta, Beijing, Dubai and Los Angeles – there could be a chance you could add on another destination for not much more
I wrote a blog post about how you can super serve a trip to Dubai by adding in Sri Lanka, Hong Kong and Vietnam for less than £100
If flying to multiple destinations, try flying with the same airline
You can get a cracking deal by flying multi-city, but often only if you’re flying with the same airline
Why not check out where else the airline you’re flying with goes to and try adding that in a multi-city search?
If flying with multiple airlines, try booking your flights individually
Got a connection and then continuing with another airline? Try popping the flights into multi-city and also individually as one way trips, just to check you’re getting the best possible deal
Flying one way? Try searching for a return
Yep – sometimes it’s cheaper to purchase a return flight than just one way. Madness.
Searching for two people? Try searching individually
There may be one ticket left at the cheapest price, so check how much it would cost if you selected the tickets individually in case it adds up to less
You could also try booking the cheap rate simultaneously – but most websites won’t be fooled that easily!
Not travelling on your own? Make sure you’ve changed your search to reflect it
It can be easy to search for prices on the preset of ‘1 adult’, but strangely, you can sometimes get cheaper rates when you’re booking more than one ticket so give that a go too
Go on a holiday someone else can no longer make
Transfer travel is a site that lets you book unwanted holidays and the great news is that the price you see INCLUDES the name change fees
There’s flights, hotels, package deals and even bus and train fares on here!
I also really like that some people tell you why they can no longer go – one fella lamented that it was intended as a romantic getaway but they’d unfortunately broken up… 🙈😬🤣
I haven’t used this site yet, so can’t vouch for it, but I am SO INTRIGUED
Go for a dump
I mean a FUEL DUMP obviously (I’m 29 and in desperate need of a better sense of humour)
As well as referring to when a plane needs to dispose of fuel, the secret meaning is when you have a connecting flight, but you sack off the last flight and leave halfway through
For example, you may find a cracking deal from Inverness (oddly, Inverness often gets airfares cheaper than the rest of the country!!) but you could do with jumping out at London Heathrow on the way back
Well, you could technically do this as long as you didn’t check in any luggage
Now, this is FROWNED UPON but it’s very unlikely that an airline would take action about you not turning up for your final flight (though some have!) since people miss them all the time, but definitely read up on it before you do this
Skipplagged is site that exploits this, though they’re pretty US centric
It’s definitely worth saying that you cannot join a flight midway through – you can only ‘dump’ the final leg!
Check the departures and arrivals board of your wanted destination
If you know exactly where you want to go, it’s definitely worth checking to see what flights are coming in and out. This is because new airlines, or new routes, can sometimes take a while to filter through
I saw this recently when looking for flights for a friend travelling to Shenzhen in China. Neither Skyscanner or momondo showed me that a new route served by Shenzhen Airlines was a whopping £300 cheaper than the direct options they were giving me (they are finally coming up in the search results now!)
Try foreign search engines
Search engines local to the destinations you’re heading may be able to offer you a better a deal – but remember to book with a card that doesn’t charge you a foreign transaction fee
When travelling around Vietnam, I came across Baolau‘s search engine and not only did it offer train fares, it consistently offered plane fares for less money than the likes of Skyscanner – and having just checked, it still does!
Baolau also works if you’re travelling around China, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Myanmar, Malaysia, Philippines or Indonesia
Try booking in a currency that’s seen a sudden dip in value
This is quite a new tip I’ve heard about but I like it in theory! The thought is that if a currency dips, you could try to book a flight in said currency and save a lot due to the conversion rates
It’s likely that airlines will be across this, but if you’re quick, you might just catch them out!
Of course, remember that when booking in a currency different from your own, you may incur a foreign transaction fee so check what rates you have on the card you’re purchasing with!
Check business class
Now this sounds WILD I know, but sometimes, just sometimes, someone makes a blunder and you might find a better class of seat for the same or less money – it’s happened to me ONCE where it was £25 cheaper to fly business than economy with British Airways. Absolute insanity mate.
Double check how much it would cost you to upgrade
Often, you can only select different classes for a return journey if you’re booking direct with the airline (which often costs you more that third party travel agents) however, do double check as I once missed a £100 upgrade to Premium Economy when booking with TravelUp (booked via Skyscanner) for a 12 HOUR FLIGHT from Mexico City which I wasn’t allowed to add on after purchase
When I got to the check in desk, they said it would cost me £800 to upgrade. I was FEWMIN’
Check vouchers and promo codes
Now, money off and promo codes aren’t the norm when it comes to booking flights but some third parties, such as opodo, do often flaunt these from time to time so it can be worth a quick google
Book an error fare
An error fare is exactly that – when someone makes a f*ck up and you reap the benefits
You can technically find these yourself but it will take a lot of man hours without the certainty of finding a deal so instead, take a look at the sites listed next who will flag error fares as and when they arise
Also, the search options on their website is pretty helpful
Sign up for Jack’s Flight Club
Jack’s Flight Club also compiles the best deals out there. There’s a free option that will get you one or two deals a week, but as a paid member (which I’ve been for three years running – it costs £35 a year), you’ll get sent ALL the deals and lists of weekend friendly flights
What I will say is that I will rarely see a deal via Jack’s Flight Club that I haven’t then seen for free on Secret Flying, HOWEVER, they do send you an email as and when the deal is found and since you have to react quite quickly to them, I do find this really convenient
I’m not a paying member of this one so alas, I cannot comment further!
Check Airfare Watchdog
Airfare Watchdog is yet another option, but if you’re searching for that particular flight, it may be worth checking in with what offers they’ve got there as well – JUST IN CASE
In general, I find that once one group reports a cheap deal or error fare, they all start circulating it so don’t be overwhelmed by the choices. Perhaps choose just two and check those more often
Seen a great deal but it doesn’t fit your dates?
All these cheap flight groups are amazing but they may not list all available dates or, if they do, they may have missed one
Head to Google Flights and add in the locations and dates that have been given as an example
Do not worry if Google Flights aren’t showing the same cheap price – this is normal, as you tend to get the best prices by checking with other websites
However, what Google Flights is amazing for is spotting the patterns. So, if the example dates are showing up as say, £400, you can then hit ‘reset’ on the dates, scroll through the calendar and look for other £400 dates
Then, whack those newly found dates into Skyscanner and momondo and hopefully they’ll also show the same bargainous price!
In general, I find that once one group reports a cheap deal or error fare, they all start circulating it so don’t be overwhelmed by the choices. Perhaps choose just two and check those more often
Need a specific fare? Set price alerts
If you’ve already download the Hopper (the app that uses stats to give you hints on when to book) and have decided to wait it out, it’s worth setting price alerts on the routes you’re after
On Skycanner, you can find this to the right labelled as ‘Get Price Alerts’ after you’ve made your initial search
They’ll then email you when prices change – be that up, or down
Need bags? Know the airlines that offer them for free/cheap
With more and more airlines (we’re looking at you, Virgin and BA) offering fares without bags, if you need to add in some luggage, that cheap rate may not be so cheap after all
Otherwise, keep scrolling through your results on the lookout for an airline that offers bags as standard.
A few to look out for are Cathay Pacific, Emirates and Etihad
Whilst on the face of it, Ryanair has one of the worst baggage policies since they only allow you a small personal item on board HOWEVER, you can make it work for you since you can add a 10kg piece of checked luggage from £10 each way (used to be just £8 – the scoundrels!)
Ignore the ‘upgrade to plus’ nonsense, select a basic/standard fare and on the next page, you’ll be give further bag options
This means that from just £20 return, you can go wild on 100ml+ products and even pack a bottle of voddy (no?? Just me???)
easyJet also offer a ‘Hands Free’ service where you pay £6 (or £14 for a group of 3 to 6 people) to drop your cabin bag at an easyJet Bag Drop before security – where you’ll receive a tote bag for the items you’ll need on the flight
The idea behind this is that you don’t have to drag a case around with you but the total winner is that since it’s BEFORE security, you can have liquids over 100ml in there
What’s more, your bags will be tagged as ‘priority’ so will be out first
If you have a Pay Monthly deal with Three, you can currently get this service for free but only for the flight departing the UK
Bag Drop is not available on all flights so check and book ahead!
Lastly, if you’re flying from London, it may be worth checking British Airway’s Holiday Finder as they offer a free checked bag for all flight + hotel deals (they also have a really fun search engine that lets you search destinations by temperature!)
A few times I have found the price of the entire deal to be cheaper than the flight alone – winner – however, do always check the costs individually because on the flip side, you could end up paying more
As well, you can pay just a deposit on bookings over £300 from £75 per person
Check package deals
Now, I love making life hard for myself so I’m not always a huge package deal fan BUT, after my mate managed to blag flights and a five night stay in a 4 star New York hotel for just £600, I realised that I was probably missing out on a cracking deal or two
Genuinely thought these only existed in 50’s fiction but no, they are indeed a real thing!
Skyscanner have done an impressive job of summarising here and have given these following reasons for why you should book one of these rather than doing it yourself via multi-city:
Your trip is less than a year
You’re not bothered about flying with budget airlines (like Ryanair or AirAsia)
You have a set travel plan
You’re buying tickets on behalf of a group or family
You’re part of a frequent flier programme and collect miles and perks
Get a free upgrade – sign up for frequent flyer programmes
Now, I wish I could tell you how to nail this but alas, the last time I got a free upgrade was 13 years ago – BLIMEY!
However, one thing you must do is sign up for the frequent flyer programmes. Not only will you collect points (that one day may equal prizes in the form of free flights), but you’re just giving yourself that boost up for being selected for a free upgrade
Obviously, you’ll be up against all the frequent flyers but HEY, this is a very free way to get your foot on the ladder!
Fly for free with points
Now, I’m not the best person to talk about collecting miles as I’m a total floozy and will cast aside all brand loyalty to save money
However, there are credit cards out there that will reward you with free miles but first things first – DO NOT GET ONE UNLESS YOU ARE WILLING TO PAY IT BACK MONTHLY
As someone who’s not so good with money, I was wary of this so ended up signing up for the American Express Gold card (I’m not gonna link to these as I do not want to encourage anyone to get into debt!) because it is in fact a charge card rather than a credit card meaning that I HAD to pay it off every single month
I got 10,000 points by spending (and paying off) £1k in 3 months and with my spending throughout the rest of the year, I earned another 15,000 points which I transferred out to Virgin miles
So yes, it can work, but be wary and check additional fees
Top tip: Shop with Tesco? You can turn your clubcard points into points too!
Is there another form of transport cheaper?
Don’t forget to check trains, ferries, car hire and even car shares if you’re struggling to find a flight within your budget
One of my FAVOURITE money saving tips is to do a relocation. This is when a hire company has rented a car or campervan for one way hire, and instead of spending a lot of time and money getting it back, they let you hire it for as little as £1 to chug it back to them