For most parents and children, the annual family holiday is the time of year they most look forward to, but with disposable income in short supply and job cuts across many industries, it can be a struggle for them to find a trip away that they can afford. However, there are plenty of ways to save money on your family holiday if you know the tricks for finding the best deal – which of course we’re happy to share with you. So without further ado, here are our top five tips on booking a cheap family holiday that will keep you, your kids and your pocket happy!
Get the timing right
Timing really is everything if you’re looking to book a bargain holiday. The two best times to book a holiday are early and late; it’s as simple as that. If you book early – and by early we mean up to nine months in advance – you can find great discounts, as tour agencies use such sales to help them match supply and demand.
On the other hand, if you’re more flexible on dates of travel and where you want to go, the best option is to book late. Ideally you wouldn’t start looking any earlier than around eight to ten weeks before departure, as this is when travel companies start cutting down their prices in order to make sure they fill up empty plane seats and rooms. If you just want anywhere cheap then you could even leave it until a week before departure to get the best bargain, but be aware that you’ll need to be very flexible about where you go if you want to do this.
Location, location, location
Try to ignore any places that are featured in lifestyle magazines and described as being ‘this-year’s hottest destination’. Whilst these destinations will surely be glamorous and beautiful, it’s highly unlikely that they will be cheap. It’s also wise not to venture too far away from home as even if the cost of living is cheap in far-flung countries, the flights to get there certainly won’t be. If you live in Europe and want to go somewhere hot and cheap then you’ll be sure to find the perfect deal in countries like Spain, Italy and Greece.
Do your homework
The great thing about living in the 21st century is that you don’t have to take the word of a travel agent about the options available for a cheap holiday; you can do all your own research on the internet. Visit review sites such as TripAdvisor, which offers free, impartial advice on holiday destinations, as well as reviews on hotels, tourist attractions and destinations. Cheap family holiday provider OnTheBeach.co.uk has also created a brilliant, free tool that allows you to compare the cost of items such as nappies or a meal for four to help you price up your destination, which can be found here.
Buy a package deal
Even if you shop around and try to get the best deal on each aspect of your holiday, it usually still works out cheaper to book a package deal. Package deals often cover flights, transfers, a car and accommodation, so it can also be a great way to take the stress out of planning your holiday! There are also plenty of package holidays tailored to families, where entry to amusement parks included.
Check out ‘anti-truancy’ deals
As part of the government’s Every Lesson Counts campaign to cut down on the number of parents taking their children away during term-time, lots of holiday companies have developed special deals such as free child places and discounts for adults. Ask your child’s school for details or contact travel firms directly – but do still shop around, as even after the discount, the holidays may be cheaper elsewhere.