These essential travel hacks will help you get a cheap holiday
We've pulled together some creative ways to help you save money while booking that all important break - whether it's for a weekend or a longer holiday. So whether you're about to book a trip or are jetting off tomorrow morning, these top travel tips might help you beat the system.
1. Buy flights first thing in the morning
Flight systems are loaded first thing every morning so flights which were on hold overnight (usually from business customers) will be released. This happens at around 1am, so you can often get better prices the earlier you book.
2. Pay for airport lounge access
Some airlines grant access to their lounges for a fee to enjoy the beautiful surroundings, unlimited food and drink (including wine), free magazines and newspapers, free wifi, plus some even offer free massages to relax you ahead of your flight.
3. Start your long haul holiday from another European city
By starting your trip in somewhere like Sofia or Oslo, you only need to add a low cost flight from your home to this city. For example you can get a return flight from Sofia, Bulgaria to Dubai for under £150.
4. Sunday nights are usually the cheapest night of the week to stay in a city hotel
This is the end of the week when weekend travellers have left and before corporate guests arrive so a great day to surprise your other half with a night away. You’re also more likely to get an upgrade to a suite when the hotel is quieter on a Sunday.
5. Hotel costs are often lowest in December and January
And if the hotel is a corporate hotel then the last two weeks in December (excluding New Year’s Eve) and first two weeks in January are usually the quietest.
6. Take off early
Morning flights are often cheaper, especially those at quite unsociable hours. Also, earlier flights are less likely to encounter delays (although this is never a guarantee) because you won't have a back log of flights.
7. Ask the hotel concierge
Don’t be intimidated to ask for things from the concierge – they are the secret heroes of hotels. They can often get you a table at the best restaurant that claims to be fully booked when you call, or advise on local hotspots, get you better deals on an experience, hand out free city guides and get fast passes or early access to sights. If you don't ask, you'll never know.
8. Stay in the business district
Many cities which are popular for business travellers such as London, Brussels and Zurich, have fantastic room rates at the weekend once the ‘suits’ have left. You can sometimes find 5 star hotels for under £100 per night.
9. Fly Tuesday to Thursday
You avoid the Monday morning rush of business travellers and also the weekend escapers. These days often have better availability too and that means lower fares.
10. Keep an eye on Black Friday and airline sales
The major airlines all have seat sales over the Christmas period. During Black Friday (at the end of November) and over Christmas lastminute.com offers access to these big sales of the airlines.
11. Night at the museum
Many European cities have set days during the year where they open up their top museums at night and offer free access. The European Night of Museums in France, Germany and the UK is in May, Budapest and Prague offer the same thing in June.
12. Travel with man’s best friend
Sometimes pet-friendly hotels allocate the biggest rooms to those travelling with pets so they have more space and are more comfortable.
13. Use Top Secret® Hotels
Save up to 35% on hotels in cities around the world with lastminute.com’s Top Secret® Hotels. You get to see lots of information about the hotel during the booking process and have an idea of its rough location but the name of the hotel isn’t revealed until after you book. It’s worth the fun as you can bag a 4 star London hotel for under 100 quid.
14. Book a Flight + Hotel Combo
Book your flight and hotel together as a package, rather than individually, to save money and to get the best discounts - often more than 15% off.
15. Check in as late as possible
If you check in late, the chances are that the hotel might have run out of standard rooms and will therefore give you a higher room category.
16. The cheapest time of year for a city break is January
You can often get deals for flight + hotel for two nights for under £100 to places like Berlin, Dublin, Prague and Copenhagen. Or if you fancy going somewhere a bit warmer, see our guide to where's hot in January.
17. Keep currency exchange local
For a better exchange rate, change your pounds in a bank in the country you are visiting. Also consider using your debit card to pay for things abroad because you’ll get the exact currency rates of the day (not a rate that has fees and commission on top). Just check any fees your bank might charge for this though to check it’s cost effective.
18. See the city on public transport
Don’t bother paying for bus tours or taxis. Public transport with city cards is more cost effective to get around, plus if you just grab a map and use the public transport, the public buses are a great way to see more of a city destination, especially in London.
Share your best hacks
Have you got any top tips for maximising your holiday spend? We'd love to hear your hacks for travelling - let us know by leaving a comment below.