Package holidays take the effort and stress out of booking a holiday and can be good value for money as well as being convenient, particularly for large groups and families. Flights, accommodation and often additional extras such as car hire and children’s clubs are bundled together and a single price is paid to an operator. So, with just the finer details to sort out, you can look forward to your holiday – safe in the knowledge that much of your trip has been taken care of.
The other big bonus is that package holidays have an Air Travel Organisers’ Licence (ATOL) and membership with an approved body such as ABTA (always check when you book) which means that if anything goes wrong, you can get your money back. Get more information on the Foreign & Commonwealth Office website.
- Explore your online options
- Buy your holiday from a cashback site
- Get discount vouchers
- Sign up for special offers by email
- Always look for family deals
- Haggle the high street
Explore your online options
The internet is by far the easiest way to find bargain package holidays, as prices tend to be live – so you are only a click away from the most up-to-date offers.
Thomson have a massive £300 off per couple on winter breaks, Crystal Holidays offer a wide range of summer and skiing packages and Blue Sea Holidays always feature amazing deals on European holidays.
If you find your holiday on high-profile online search engines such as Expedia, a cashback site will let you book it through them and take your share of the affiliate marketing revenue. The cashback can be quite low; only about 2.5% of the price of the holiday, but some providers will give you as much as 10% cashback, which effectively means you get a 10% discount on your holiday.
These are some of the main cashback sites; it’s worth having a look at all of them as they have partnerships with different companies. If you don’t know how cashback sites work, have a look at our cashback sites article.
- Top Cashback
- Free Fivers
- Give or Take
- Moneyback Madness
Online voucher and promotional code sites are not the most reliable, but they do sometimes have functional codes that can get you money off your flights, hotel or even holiday package. The big names are:
- Voucher Codes
Find the best voucher sites (and the ones to avoid) in our guide to voucher codes.
In exchange for your details and the chance to send advertising emails to you every now and then, lots of companies will send you promotional offers and let you know first about any sales events.
Take advantage of this without clogging up your normal inbox by signing up for a free email account to use for newsletters. Travelocity has a newsletter that you can sign up for, as do Travelbag, Trailfinders, Expedia and lots of others. It’s also worth signing up for hotel chains’ newsletters as you could get special deals on hotel rooms. Accor Hotels has one, as does Holiday Inn.
Loads of tour operators run offers that incentivize family holidays. If you’re booking with a travel agent they’ll probably point you towards these deals straight away, but if you’re booking online you should always look out for them. This applies for hotels and transport too as many will do family deals and sell tickets where child places are free or only a little extra.
First Choice let you take your first child for free, Disneyland Paris is letting children under seven stay and play for free and children under 15 enter free at Legoland Windsor.
The web really is a brilliant place to get the very best and cheapest holiday deals, but don’t write off the high street travel agent completely. The personal interaction you have with these people, both face to face and over the phone, can be really valuable if you want to negotiate better deals on packages and add-ons.
You’ve got to remember that you have the power. The travel agent wants to sell their holidays and needs your custom to do so. This means you’re in a great position to haggle and get a better price. Here’s what to do:
- Firstly, call up a travel company that deals with several tour operators and has telephone salespeople (Teletext Holidays is probably the best example). It is essential to phone as you can’t haggle on the internet. Get their best deal on the holiday you want and make sure you know exactly what the package includes. They may have to go off and see if they can get you a better price, but they will phone you back.
- Next, take the price you’ve just been given and search on the internet and call other agencies to see if you can get a lower price. You can use your first quote as a bargaining tool to ask other agencies to match or beat it.
- Once you’ve spoken to as many companies as possible and got the best price you can, take this back to the original company you spoke to and ask them to better it. If they can’t, you’ve already got the cheaper quote from the other company and if they can, you can expect to make good savings.
- Remember to negotiate a price per person rather than per package, as it makes the discount seem less to the agent. You can also speed up the process by shaving some money off the quotes you’ve got when speaking to other travel agents. Don’t go too far, but if you’ve got a quote for, say, £300, cut it down to £290 and you should get a bit extra off any new price.
- Don’t expect enormous savings – you can probably get around 15% off at most. But 15% off an already reduced holiday should get you a pretty good price.