How to find the cheapest holidays | Resources and Tips
Oh hey Explorersaur! We could talk (and often do!) for hours about all the ways you can find the cheapest holidays and mini breaks. There are so many different resources and tips we can go through, and we’re going to make a solid start at that now! This is ever-changing as new platforms pop up and the industry evolves, so we will keep this page updated with all the new ways we discover. Bookmark or favourite this page to refer back to when you’re booking, and let’s get going!
There are generally different patterns to follow when looking for a holiday to fit a budget, or to find the flat out cheapest. Whilst this page will include upgrade options and ways to add more luxury into your holiday, the main focus is going to be finding all the best deals for the teeniest amount of cashola.
We actually do this research hundreds of times over every month ourselves, so to see all the cheapest holidays we’ve found – all in one place – head over to our deals tab.
A note consider when finding the cheapest possible holidays, is you will have to be flexible. This include travelling at off-peak times, ungodly hours of the morning and night! You can always upgrade flights and hotels to suit your needs, at usually an inflated rate, you do you, we’re here to give you all the ammo to make those decisions for yourself.
Start with flights
The first thing to look at is going to be flights. Whilst we can usually find different accommodation deals across a huge amount of websites, flights have less room for movement. It’s all very well finding a gorgeously discounted hotel in Dubai, but if it’s still going to cost £1000+ to fly there and back, it could write the possibility off for a lot of us and just be waste of searching time.
There are a whole bunch of comparison websites on the ole interwebs, but one we have used time and time again to travel is Skyscanner. I’ve added in a screenshot to make it as simple as possible, but Skyscanner is essentially a flight comparison website. If you have an event; a wedding in Italy for example, you can add your dates, the airport you’ll need to arrive to and find the cheapest airline to save the most money on that specific fare.
What I really love about this website, is you can search everywhere to see all the cheapest flights across the world. If you know you want a summer holiday you can add in your preferred dates, or leave it up to a whole month so you can really start to build a picture of the cheapest times to travel. One of the very coolest things you can do here, is search everywhere, and choose in the dates section, “cheapest month” – you will then find the literal cheapest flights on the whole database. I just had a little run of this now and have found £10 flights from London to Ireland, Austria, Denmark, Germany, Spain, and a huge amount more. On this search I also saw Thailand for £250 – bargain bucket my gals and pals.
These flights will often be during off-peak times, so if you have certain months you only want to travel on you can search more specifically. Some budget airlines choose not to show on Skycanner, but we’ve still found this tool to be a great round-up of the current market prices. You can visit Skycanner here.
Now you should have a few countries in mind and an idea of dates. From here we suggest looking at the different accommodation options to see the best deals. You’ll usually save money booking the flights and hotel in combination, but some exceptions apply – like where airbnb’s offer much better prices than hotels. It’s a good idea to do all your research before booking anything, so you get to weigh everything up before committing. We don’t recommend hotel comparison websites (yet atleast,) as so far all the ones we have researched and used tend to have outdated prices, and not include sales and special offers on booking sites that can make all the difference. We will update this if we discover one that does what it promises!
We’re never fully loyal to any specific website, as there’s never one singular platform with all the best deals. They’re out, about and everywhere! With that being said, a lot of holiday sites offer loyalty points, member sales and clubcard points – such as Expedia’s partnership with Nectar. If you do happen to see deals continuously in one place, it makes a lot of sense to book there and start raking in the points. As above, we have used Expedia on lots of different holidays as we often find the cheaper offers here, and doing so has enabled us a free UK hotel stay, and lots of extra Nectar points.
I would always recommend looking at Air Bnb, Expedia, and (more occasionally) hotels.com as first ports of call. Spend ten minutes or so across the sites, searching your dates and location(s) into the search bars. (Note – Expedia’s search for flights and hotels combined is called packages. You will not be able to search package deals with AirBnb, but it gives you a good idea if renting accommodation will be cheaper than hotel rates in your destination.) There are a good few other home rental options worth their weight, but always check reviews on independent review websites to see if they’re legit.
We’ve never booked the absolute cheapest hotels as generally, they tend to be in hostels, have shared bathrooms or be too far out of the city centre than we are willing to be when on holiday. Always check the maps to see you’re staying in a good area and have easy routes of transport, and always have a quick look at the reviews. It’s worth reading through reviews too as sometimes people leave reviews for the silliest of reasons that wouldn’t impact your stay at all. (Whilst other times they can give you warning signs to book elsewhere.) It all sounds like a lot of research, but we’ve found you can happily do this extensively within half an hour or less.
Exchange rates and Economies
Flights and accommodation are always going to be the biggest travel spends as most other aspects are optional and/or flexible. When on a tight budget, we have to consider how much we’ll be spending on the holiday itself. There are some notoriously cheap destinations such as Bucharest, where you can happily get breakfast for a few pounds and a beer for about £1.50, and Bali – although expensive to get to has some fab prices on food, shopping and attractions. Other countries are on the other spectrum and will set you back a much bigger amount of money – for example most Scandinavian countries. If you’re torn between two countries from your searches, have a look at how expensive food/attractions are in each place and you can build a picture of what is overall the best value.
With this being said, we are firm believers that you shouldn’t be put off a dream destination because of an expensive reputation. (I like the way that sentence sounds!) Even in some of the most expensive places we have found some fantastic options to save money – often being delicious street food, making/bringing some of our own food, and finding fun free things to do along with excursions. Beaches, waterfalls, national parks and city wanders should never set you back any money and can be some of the best sights. We love to use Tripadvisor to find the best and cheapest foods abroad. (Although there are some meals most definitely worth a splurge – like our meal in the sky in Vegas!)
Sometimes it’s better value to withdraw cash in your chosen destination, or just pay on a credit card than to bring a large amount from a currency exchange in the UK. This is very country specific so have a look at our country guides and have a Google! (We recommend sticking to credit cards as much as possible when using cards abroad as you can more easily dispute transactions if anything were to go wrong.)
There are so many other things you might add in to your holiday across destinations. Tours, excursions, hiring a car, experiences and more. However you want do your holiday, you can never do enough research! If you’re anything like me, you will love the premise of seeing all the different things available and choosing things to do. If you’d rather have everything laid out for you, blogs exist for a very good reason! Look up pre-made destination guides and Pinterest a pin board – whilst you’re there, follow us here @explorersaur!
Do save this post as it’ll be edited and updated along the way – and let me know if there’s anything else you would add. Take a look at our money saving posts through the Travel section and we will see you really soon!