Money saving tips for planning your holiday

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Written by Tim Barnes-Clay

Holidays offer an ideal opportunity for you and your family to escape the pressures of everyday life and enjoy some special time exploring and relaxing in a new, exciting environment. However, with the rising costs of travelling abroad, especially with little ones in tow,

However, with the rising costs of travelling abroad, especially with little ones in tow, it is important to plan carefully to avoid paying more than is necessary when going away. If you’ve spent time searching for holiday deals, then why not take time looking into other ways you can save the pennies? To help you plan a great family trip that doesn’t break the bank, here are five top tips to help you save money on your holiday.

The eight-week rule
Many travel companies offer fantastic early-bird deals and great last minute offers, so it’s worth keeping an eye out for any special discounts on destinations.

According to recent studies by the Economic Journal, the best time to book your flight is exactly eight weeks before departure. If you book too early there is a likelihood that unforeseen events may prevent you from making your trip – therefore losing you money and lining the pockets of the travel companies. Leave it too late and prices may have hiked even higher or the deals completely sold out!

The same study also noted that ticket prices are cheaper when purchased in the afternoon rather than in the morning. The assumption is that business travellers will book their tickets at work in the morning, whereas leisure travellers are more likely to book from home in the afternoon, so travel operators change their prices accordingly.

Pre-book airport parking
When you’re travelling with a family the easiest way to reach the airport is by car, but airports charge a fortune for using their long-stay car parks. If you’re travelling a long way from home then public transport can be costly and inconvenient. External airport parking companies tend to offer cheaper rates for their park and ride options, with guaranteed parking spaces for advance bookings and free transport to your terminal. Having your own car nearby is particularly useful when departing or arriving early in the morning when trains aren’t running.

Parking companies often have special offers for online booking – for example, Purple Parking regularly has great deals on Heathrow Parking, saving you a few extra pounds on your trip.

Research your travel insurance
You’re likely to get the best rates for travel insurance by buying online, so search for cover on the Internet. Make sure to compare prices of various travel insurance companies rather than settling for the package offered by your tour operator, as these basic packages will often be no-frills and can be more expensive.

Even if you’re only going on holiday for a week or two, get quotes for a year’s insurance, especially if you’re planning more than one holiday within 12 months. Surprisingly, sometimes the cost of one year is almost the same as a week or two. Insurance is also cheaper if you buy in numbers so enquire about what savings you make for covering your whole family at the same time.

If your home insurance covers personal possessions then your travel insurer may discount your overall cost by around ten per cent, so make sure you’re not doubling up. Don’t let insurance companies sting you with excess charges though – sometimes these can be as high as £200, so confirm the claiming process before you buy.

Think about what type of package to book
Have you thought about booking an all-inclusive holiday? They may look expensive, but in reality, once you take all the spending money that goes on feeding your whole family into account, these may work out cheaper. However, ensure you have a variety of options for eating and drinking at your resort, as you may be tempted to pay extra for restaurant food if you get bored of what your hotel has to offer.

Alternatively, self-catering accommodation allows you the freedom of cooking for yourself and your little ones and you can visit food markets and stores to stock up without spending too much. It also means that you can cook for fussy eaters and give them the food they’re used to at home. You also have the independence to eat at restaurants a couple of times if you want, without feeling like you’re blowing your budget.

Have a set budget per day
Try to predefine your budget before you leave, based on the total amount that you want your family to spend each day. It’s fine to roll money over and enjoy some more extravagant days towards the end of your holiday, but try to never over-spend on any given day. Budgeting can be tough when holidaying with children, but it should allow you to plan ahead for holiday costs and save you coming home with an empty-bank account.