Yes, it’s mid-April 2018 already. Can you believe it? Although the weather might not feel like Spring yet, it means there’s only two months left till Summer begins. Depending on how you like to live life, you have either organised your Summer holidays back in 2017, or waiting for last-minute deals before deciding what to do or where to go. In this post, I’ll be looking at planning for a holiday abroad.
At the time of writing, Cara has two Summer holidays booked, one week in June and one long weekend in August. These were booked late last year. However, with school term breaking up for 2 months, there’s more time to fill up. So, where to start?
* I’ll be looking at organising and booking family holidays only in this post. Another post on holiday activity ideas to follow prior to Summer.
DIY Summer Holidays
It doesn’t feel like the Summer holidays unless you’re splashing in a pool at an all-inclusive with a kids’ club. And what better place to experience it then outside of the UK? With so many options to choose from, it can be overwhelming to narrow it down. So, here are some websites I use to help:
Skyscanner.net – become a travel agent by searching for your own flights. This comparison site saves you time searching the various operators (e.g. Ryanair, Easyject) by providing you with flight carriers, times and prices. It allows you to add stopovers, choose direct or indirect flights. Once you have identified a suitable flight, it will re-direct you to the relevant site to proceed with the booking. If the prices shown are not in line with your budget, then you can create price alerts in the event there’s a price reduction. You can also switch the view to ‘show whole month’ so you can compare the cheapest departure and return dates.
Booking.com – once you have locked in a destination and flight, then it’s time to book somewhere to stay. Although there are other sites that provide a similar service (e.g. Trivago, Kayak), I’ve found Booking.com to be the most user-friendly and competitive. It also has a good amount of user reviews, allowing you to read the feedback and compare hotels. Another accommodation site is Hotels.com, which is quite similar to Booking.com, but also offers a ‘stay 10 nights, get 1 free night’ rewards system. It also usually offers a higher cashback on Quidco.com as well, but sometimes the room rates per night are higher than Booking.com, so it balances out. Another option, especially for larger families, is AirBnb. It can offer unique places to stay and may be more affordable with a single dwelling rather than multiple rooms.
Ready Made Summer Holidays
If you prefer a hands-off approach to organising your Summer holidays, then there’s the usual suspects. Located on some High Streets and online, there’s Thomas Cook, TUI, Jet2holidays and FirstChoice. These companies provide a one-stop shop service, offering flights, transfers and accommodation in your desired location. This takes the hassle out of organising things yourself, as there are usually reps waiting to greet you on arrival at the airport or hotel. There are various options of board (half, full, all-inclusive). To make your holiday go smoothly, you can also look out for those with a kid’s club to help keep them entertained while you sip on some cold drinks.
Another ‘ready-made’ option to planning your holiday is Expedia. The site allows you to book flights, hotels and car hire. Although I don’t find it as user-friendly as the other sites, it still provides a comprehensive selection. Be sure to compare with other sites as I have found Expedia can be priced slightly higher. However, in addition to cashback, you can enter your Nectar card details in to collect Nectar points.
- Inspiration: If you’re stuck for ideas for the Summer holidays, visit or call a local travel agent and ask them for recommendations. You can even ask for a free quote, and compare the price if you were to organise it yourself using the above sites.
- Deal or No Deal: No luck with travel agents or other recommendations? Why not peruse some deals on HotUKDeals and see if anything pops out? The community posts travel deals and other users then rate it as hot or cold. Generally, the last minute deals tend to be the cheaper ones, and therefore rated hotter.
- Cashback: Before booking, be sure to utilise cashback sites as most offer between 3-12%. The ‘savings’ could then be used to fund a family meal, some shopping or a visit to a local attraction. I personally use Quidco.com and have accumulated over £2,000 in cashback from various purchases, with the majority coming from holiday bookings.
- Protection: I don’t mean the Durex kind, because it’s too late for that if you’re planning a family holiday. This is to do with protecting your funds and holiday after paying for it. By booking your holiday through an ATOL protected company, you’re protected in case the travel company ceases to trade. In addition to ATOL protection, if you can pay by credit card, you will also have extra protection through Section 75 (subject to minimum and maximum amounts)
- Stay alert: An off-shoot to the above, please stay alert when paying for your Summer holidays. It’s an opportune time for crooks to try and take your money. There have been stories of families paying thousands for accommodation they have found on Facebook or Gumtree, only to discover there’s no such room or booking upon arrival. If it’s a private arrangement, be sure to conduct your own due diligence and as they say, if the deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
Do you have any holiday planning and booking tips? Let me know by sharing them in the comments section below.