Six expert tricks for booking an affordable family holiday

Already planning your next family holiday? Read six expert tips to help you reduce the cost, without scrimping on the fun.

However much you plan a budget break, the cost of a holiday can add up quickly, especially when you go away with the whole family. But wallet-friendly breaks are out there. You just need to be savvy, and know the tricks to grabbing a bargain.

So if you’re the kind of person who likes to start planning their next family holiday before the tan has faded on your last one, this should be timely advice.

Neil Latham, the resident holiday expert for shares his top six insider tips for an affordable family getaway.

Six expert tricks for booking an affordable family holiday

Family holidays don’t have to come with jumbo-sized bills. Follow these six tips to book a family break that won’t clear your savings.

1) Be extra flexible with your flights

Often it’s the price of flying that has the biggest impact on the cost of your holiday, particularly if you’re visiting a popular destination like Spain or Majorca.

In these instances, it pays to be as flexible as possible. This means being prepared to wake up at the crack of dawn for an early morning flight, or travelling in the middle of the week.

You can make substantial savings on your airfare if you’re prepared to fly at unsociable times. It’s also worth comparing airports to see which destination is the cheapest to fly from.

London Stansted, Birmingham and Manchester, for example, could be a better option when searching for cheaper flights, as a greater number of flights depart from these airports on a regular basis.

2) Limit your luggage

The airport is usually when you’ll make the biggest savings, especially if you limit the amount of luggage you carry with you.

Most airlines allow for one suitcase per passenger with a maximum weight between 15 to 22kg. Go over this limit and you may be charged the cost of checking in an extra suitcase. Fortunately, most airlines are generous with their hand luggage allowance, meaning you may be able to take a small suitcase or large duffle bag at no extra cost.

Remember though, if you’re carrying liquids or toiletries in your hand luggage, they must be under 100ml and placed into a clear plastic sealable bag.

3) Book in advance and choose a low deposit holiday

There was a time when all you needed to do to secure a low cost holiday was to book last minute, but that’s no longer the case. Nowadays, you’re better off booking your break as early as possible.

The benefit of booking in advance is that you don’t have to pay for the bulk of your holiday upfront. Instead, you can choose to pay a low deposit and the remainder of your trip in instalments.

Most holiday providers even allow you to pay for your trip 14 weeks before you’re due to depart, which gives you more flexibility and plenty of time to save up.

4) Grab a bargain in the January sales

The January sales don’t just apply to department stores. You’ll find some fantastic deals on holidays being advertised during the first few weeks of the New Year.

It’s not uncommon for some companies to advertise their best rates from as early as Boxing Day, so be quick.

If you’re on the hunt for a bargain, it’s worth subscribing to travel agent newsletters and mailing lists to receive exclusive package holiday deals before everyone else.

5) Don’t follow the crowd – visit somewhere unique

Majorca, Spain, Ibiza and Portugal will always be popular with holidaymakers, especially during the summer months.

One of the most effective ways of saving money is to book a less obvious alternative to your usual holiday destination.

There’s more to Europe than the Mediterranean; you could try Bulgaria’s stunning Black Sea coast or sun-soaked Croatia. By taking a step away from well-known resorts like the Costa Blanca and Alcudia, you could slash the cost of your break by a considerable amount.

You could even get the whole family involved when choosing a destination. Draw up a shortlist and put your chosen destination to the vote.

6) Self-catering or all-inclusive?

Don’t just assume a self-catering break is your cheapest option. Sometimes an all-inclusive break can be the most cost-effective route.

It all comes down to personal preference and what you’re most likely to spend your money on while abroad. You should also take in account the exchange rate and your location.

Will you be eating out a lot? Will you be planning lots of activities? Would you rather pay for the majority of your holiday in advance? How much do you usually spend on holiday? These are all questions you should ask yourself before deciding whether to go self-catering or all-inclusive.

If you’ve got time, you could even go as far as checking the web for travel forums and reviews to find out the average cost of eating and drinking out in local restaurants and bars.

Start planning your next holiday now

So if you’re already mourning the end of your last holiday, cheer yourself up by booking your next. With a bit of careful planning, you should be able to save some money on it!