When booking a holiday, tourists might think they have bagged a cheap deal.
But when airlines, hotels and even car hire companies add on their hidden extras, bargains can evaporate.
Thankfully, experts from consumer group Which? have revealed tips on how to save money when booking a holiday – from bagging cheap air fares to avoiding car hire pitfalls – to make sure budgets are never broken.
Experts from consumer group Which? say you should always use price comparison sites when booking hotels and flights
Bag a bargain air fare
The first tip by Which? on how to save money is grabbing a cheap flight thanks to price comparison sites such as Skyscanner, Momondo and Kayak.
The experts reveal that on Skyscanner you can even enter your email address so you can get an alert when the price of the flights you have been looking at drop.
Meanwhile, if you don’t have a specific destination in mind, the same website will find flights matched to your budget.
On Skyscanner for example, Which? found return flights from London to Bordeaux in February for £25.
Hunt down the best hotel price
As with finding cheap flights, Which? suggests using a price comparison site to find a hotel.
HOW YOU CAN SAVE £149 ON A TWO-NIGHT BREAK TO ROME
In its report, Which? showed how it could slash the price of a trip to Rome in April by almost £150.
The cheapest return flights from London to the Eternal City were £109.30 flying on British Airways on Friday, April 20, and returning on Sunday, April 22.
But when using Skyscanner and shifting the dates to leaving on Saturday and returning Monday, the cheapest flights were £51 return flying with Ryanair.
When it came to booking a hotel, Which? used Trivago and found the Victoria Hotel for £148 per night.
But using lastminute.com’s ‘top secret’ option, it found a hotel with a similar description for £114 per night.
As an added extra, the Which? experts then used the cashback website Quidco, which was offering 10 per cent on top secret bookings with lastminute.com, to save an extra £23.
Then for excursions in Rome, entry to the Colossuem is 16 euros while a bus tour of the city is 28 euros.
However buying a 48 hour Rome cuty pass for 28 euros gives entry to one museum or archaeological site as well as unlimited public transport – giving a saving of at least five euros.
But it warns that before booking, go to the hotel’s website directly, just to check it can’t give you a better deal.
Experts also revealed that many hotels drop their prices if rooms are left empty, so it sometimes pays off to wait until you book.
If you don’t want to wait to book, they suggest booking a hotel with a free cancellation policy, then if the price drops, cancel the hotel and then rebook.
Alternatively, if you are happy to stay anywhere, sites such as lastminute.com advertise ‘secret’ hotels for bargain prices – where the name of the hotel isn’t revealed until after you’ve paid.
However, Which? says you can often guess the hotel by googling phrases from their description.
How to get the best deal on travel money
The weaker pound – especially against the Euro – has made travelling abroad a lot more expensive for Brits.
But while holidaymakers can’t change exchange rates, they can make sure they aren’t being hit with hidden charges while using their debit card abroad.
If you do have to use your card, Which? suggests opting for cards with zero fees such as Barclaycard’s Platinum travel card or Halifax’s Clarity card.
Experts say that pre-paid cards are also a good option as many don’t charge fees when using them abroad.
When it comes to buying foreign currency, Which? says websites such as moneysavingexpert can keep you updated on when the exchange rate is favaourable.
However, it says never change your cash in the airport, as they are notorious for having terrible rates.
Make sure you’re covered
Arranging travel insurance might seem like the last thing on your mind when booking an exciting trip abroad.
But experts from Which? say it is essential to arrange a policy as soon as you make your reservation to ensure you are covered.
If you don’t, you could be left thousands of pounds out of pocket if you need to fork out for medical treatment abroad.
When it comes to travel money, Which? says you should never change at the airport as they usually have poor rates
The consumer group says the most cost-effective insurance is usually an annual policy – especially if you are planning on going on more than one trip in a year.
It also warns that people with any medical conditions must declare these to their insurer to make sure they are covered.
Harry Rose, Which? Money editor, said: ‘With the buying power of the pound not what it was, many people will wince at the costs of going away as they look at options for the year ahead.
‘But with a few simple steps, savvy travelers can achieve big savings on flights, hotels, currency and travel insurance.’
OTHER WAYS YOU CAN SAVE MONEY ON YOUR HOLIDAYS
Weigh up all the options – All-inclusive does not always mean cheaper, according to Which?, so check out both options. Experts say that generally all-inclusive tends to be cheaper in the Caribbean with self-catering more cost-effective in southern Europe.
Book with a credit card – The Which? experts say you should always book flights and hotels using a credit card. This is because if anything goes wrong, you will be protected and not lose your money. However, they warn against using your card to buy travel currency.
Claim for delays – If your flight is delayed, Which? advises you should always check if you are entitled to compensation. Under EU rules, a delay of three hours or more may result in you being able to claim compensation of up to 600 euros (£528).
THINGS TO LOOK OUR FOR
Airline extras – When booking flights, Which? says you should always check for additional charges for things such as luggage and check-in. They suggest that wherever possible, pay for checking a bag before getting to the airport and check-in online for free.
Paying in sterling – Many shops and restaurants abroad give Brits the option of paying in sterling if using a card. However, Which? says that doing this always gives a very poor exchange rate so it is always better to pay for goods and services in the local currency.
Car hire catches – Hiring a car means catches galore. Which? suggests trying a car hire broker, drilling into the insurance options (and being wary of the hard sell for extra insurance), checking the fuel policy, booking early, checking age restrictions and avoiding pricey extras such as sat navs.