I can’t say I am a travel blogger, writer etc as there are plenty of amazing people who already do that exceptionally well as their full time job. The travelling I do is usually a holiday, city break or, more often than not, for work. Along the journey of my professional life, I have picked up a tip or two on how to nab the best deals for savvy travel. Before you read my guide, one thing to note. When you are researching a place to visit, as well as how to get there, you need one very special quality. Patience. It takes time to sift through flights, AirBnB reviews and to formulate an itinerary. It’s hard not to lose the plot when you are doing this kind of laptop time. Stick with it, and find your own way of putting together the best holiday possible. But, to help, here are some lessons I’ve learned.
FIND THE RIGHT PLACE TO STAY
When looking for accommodation, AirBnB seems to be the post popular and best value for money. But, don’t rule out looking at apartment companies that sometimes can do a good deal which can include cleaning costs as well. I’ve done this in Porto twice now and felt like the rental was better than what AirBnB was giving me.
Now I’ve stayed in some amazing AirBnBs in Italy, Spain and France all of which were great don’t get me wrong. But if you do a simple price compare and look at what is included in the cost, you can get a better feel for where your money is going. Make sure you read the fine print on cleaning costs, hidden extras and if you need to pay up front. And of course the cancellation policy!
Alerts are your best friend. Start with route alerts on Sky Scanner. You choose your dates, destination etc etc and save it as a search. Sky Scanner will alert you to any price changes so you can see how the route fluctuates. I find routes such as Dublin to Malaga, Paris, London, Boston and Amsterdam tend to stay the same as they are popular. Don’t rule out a stop over if it’s somewhere you really want to go and it will save you some money. Also, set alerts on booking.com for price hikes on hotels. Aer Lingus do offer a “banking” option to pay a deposit to secure your flight price, but if you don’t take it up you lose the deposit which I think is about €20.
THOSE NEWSLETTERS ARE HELPFUL!
I know we all want to keep our inbox clutter free, but some holiday newsletters are well worth the spam. I love Secret Escapes who send a daily update on current deals. At the time of writing they have some deals such as a boutique hotel in Seville for about €90 per night which is good value especially at peak season like August. Some of these deals include flights, but I tend to just look at the accommodation ones as a lot of the flights depart from UK airports, mainly London. I also really like Pigsback for staycation ideas in Ireland; the same goes for Rewarding Times if you fancy a few days away on these shores. I also check Holiday Guru regularly; it’s an aggregation website of the best holidays and breaks around. It has a comprehensive breakdown of each deal so you can see what’s included. And more importantly, what’s not!
OFF PEAK IF YOU CAN
You may have noticed that I travel a lot from March-May and October-December, and one of the reasons is that it’s much cheaper. I avoid holidaying in the summer (I know school holidays mean a break has to happen in June to August), so if you have some flexibility on when you holiday, look at off peak. You can get some incredible stays in premium locations for up to half the price. For example, I went on a press trip to Ibiza last year and stayed in a very luxurious resort called Seven Pines. Super pricey in July and August, but I have been looking at late September/October, and it’s almost €200 per night less than going in the height of the season. The weather will hopefully still be warm but not scorching and I’m ok with that to see that beautiful place again.
THE PACKAGE IS BACK
I used to peruse the Budget Travel brochure when I was a kid. Mum and Dad would pick up brochures just to see if we could afford to do a foreign holiday, but sadly we never could. I used to always look at who had the best pool with the best slide and decide that’s where I wanted to go. I mean, I was six so those were my only requirements. I fondly remember the Timor Sol hotel in Benalmadena being on my annual wish-list. It was a giant hotel block that was about three stars but THE POOL WAS HUGE. I also used to think I would definitely get to meet and play with the exact kids that were in the brochure photos. Fast forward 19 years, and I have a small house about 2km away from the Timor Sol. I run by it on my daily jog at 7am on the mornings of my holidays and I always giggle to myself about how much I wanted to be there. And their pool is still huge. But back to my point, package holidays are super and very much back in vogue. Sunway is my first stop to check out any last minute deals, or if I want to go further afield. They’ve been in the business a long time! I also think if you don’t like the separate booking for flights and hotels, then this is an easy solution.