Don't rent a car
Pricewatch editor CONOR POPEsuggets 10 ways to save money on holidays
1. Don’t leave it late
Booking a flight late can lead to great bargains but more frequently you pay through the nose for tardiness. Airlines use discount cycles which mean prices increase incrementally as departure comes closer. Some specialist sites claim the best time to book is between midnight and 1am on a Wednesday morning, in the time zone of the airline’s home city as this is when computer systems dump reserved, but unbooked, cheap seats. The worst times are 1pm-2pm and 6pm-8pm. Industry sources are, however, sceptical this forensic attention to timing will help you save money.
2. Never fly on Saturday
There are ways of tweaking time which will definitely cut costs. Tuesdays and Wednesdays are the cheapest days to fly. Weekend breaks are over and most business travellers depart for their destinations on a Mondays.
By Thursday people are starting to take long weekends while actual weekends are a no-no for the canny flier. According to British consumer group Which? you can save nearly €1,000 on the cost of a fortnight in the sun for a family of four just by moving the day of departure from a Saturday to a Thursday.
3. Drive a better bargain
Renting a car for two weeks adds about €1,000 to the cost of a holiday. It is better for your wallet to choose destinations where car hire is unnecessary and then rely on public transport – it is efficient, comfortable and cheap – and your smart phone can be used to find the right stops at the right times. If you do hire a car never buy car insurance from car rental firms. It is much cheaper to find your own insurance. Sites such as insurance4carhire and worldwideinsure are much better value.
4. A cheaper alternative
Couchsurfing is old hat and crashing for nothing in a random person’s spare room or on their couch just to save money might not be everyone’s thing. There are more promising alternatives which are a lot cheaper than staying in a hotel. Airbnb.comallows you rent rooms – and sometimes whole apartments – in central Madrid, for example, for as little as €30 a night. Or how about a loft in New York’s Soho for €100 a night? Then there is Vacation Rentals by Owner – vrbo.ie– which offers 190,000 houses and apartments in cities all over the world.
5. Deal with it
More than 60 per cent of Irish adults use online coupon services such as Living Social and Groupon, but most of us only use them to find bargains close to home. Spread the net wider. If you are travelling overseas, sign up to every deal site in your destination to keep an eye on restaurant and activity discounts. If you see a bargain, buy, stow it away and redeem it while on holiday. You could knock up to 70 per cent off the cost of your break. When we looked on Groupon last week we could have got a seafood tasting menu including wine for two in a harbour-side restaurant in Barcelona for €26.90, while a massage and spa session in a Hilton Hotel in central London was just €50.