With the age of the internet making us all our own travel agents, the world is our oyster and the online world is our tool in terms of making sure that we can get the best deal possible. Despite this, the fact remains that many of us still miss out on the best deals out there due to a lack of awareness regarding some of the little hints and tips that can save you cold hard cash. Here, we take a look at a few money-saving travel tips I learned whilst working in the travel industry.
Book your flights early
If you’re going on a long haul trip (e.g. to Australia or even to the USA), you will need to book flights early as the major airlines (including the budget long haul ones like Norwegian Air) work on the basis that the later you book, the more money you’ll pay. It might seem daft, but for the same seat in economy you might have paid a net fare of £20, and the person next to you might have paid £200, all depending on when you booked.
The only time when booking later might (and this is a might, not a guarantee) be cheaper is when you are looking at booking a flight in January because, much like every other industry, airlines look to offer their promotional fares in January itself. However, you still need to bear in mind that, if you are looking to go on a busy route where there are not a lot of options (e.g. Manchester to New York), you need to be careful to get flights booked to ensure you can actually travel when you want.
Check whether booking a car hire or hotel package will save you money on your flight
On some occasions, booking a hire car can actually save you money on the price of your flight. Whilst you may think that it’s only your Florida or other USA fly drives where this tip works, short haul European flights (especially if you are travelling with BA) can produce even bigger savings.
Of course, the likes of Expedia will try to convince you to book a hotel for the whole journey (there is more margin in it for them than with flights) but in reality you really only find big savings with this when you actually have a hotel in mind. Don’t book the hotel as a spur of the moment decision just to save £2 on your flight!
Book your flight direct with the airline
If you need to change your flight for any reason (which normally you can only do with a travel agent before you travel if you booked it with them), the travel agency is likely to come up with a pretty hefty charge. Regardless of that, the chances are that, in the first place, the best deals will come direct from the airline. Always remember that travel agents are likely to impose big fees on any cancellation or changes to your booking. These fees are a commission hunting ground for most travel agents.
Points and loyalty can save you a fortune
While it might seem a better idea to move between airlines to get that new experience, or perhaps just to save a bit of money, loyalty can pay. For example, if you are near an airport where flying with BA is an option and you are looking to reduce the price of your flights, or are trying to earn a freebie, then you can really maximise this by doing the following if you set yourself up with a free BA executive account:
a) Get a BA Amex Credit Card. This allows you to collect Avios points which you can use to reduce flight costs or get an upgrade (or, if you have enough, you can even pay for the whole flight with them). As well as this, if you reach spending ‘targets’ you could get a companion fare. This is a free ticket available if you buy another one. What it doesn’t stop you doing is using your points to pay for the first ticket and you can then use your companion ticket to pay for the second one.
b) Look out for ‘bonus’ offers e.g. with Tesco Clubcards, look out for hotel deals where you can claim points with your chosen airline.
c) Just flying with the same airline often enough should see you increase your status in their loyalty programme, which should leave you more likely to get an upgrade (e.g. if you are a gold member compared to a new blue member with BA).
Don’t get caught out without insurance or a visa (when it’s needed)!
I can hear a few of you scratching your heads wondering why this is a money saving tip but I can promise you that having booked people who have declined insurance (‘we’ve got an EHIC so we’re fine’…) or have been very smug that they could sort out their visa on their own, only to end up not being able to find a state hospital to use their EHIC card in or having to cancel their trip unexpectedly, or turning up in the country they were travelling to without a visa and getting sent straight back by the immigration workers, it’s worth making sure all bases are covered!
Sure, insurance is an annoying cost and isn’t something that we always end up using, but if we need it and don’t have it then we really know about it.
As well as this, you must always be careful to make sure you fully disclose all of your medical conditions, however trivial you may find them. Also, make sure that your cover is adequate and is not just a token gesture.
With regards to the visas, do make sure you check out the FCO advice and make sure you give yourself the time to get it sorted. If you can’t do this, then see if you can find a company that can help you rush it through so you have a way of making sure you are not liable for any mess ups! It is of course worth noting that in the case of a traveller having no visa you will not get a refund on your ticket, so don’t lose all of that holiday money you have worked so hard for by failing to take precautions!
I hope you welcome our tips, but please feel free to comment below with your best money saving tips.
Categories: Travel Tips