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Personal Finance: Saving Money on Travel

The summer holiday season is only just behind us. That means that it is time to start looking for the best deals for our Christmas and end of year holiday plans.

Anyone that has ever travelled during the holiday season knows that fares and rates go up due to high demand.  However, it is still possible to find excellent savings and deals which will help stretch your travel budget.

Credit Card and Other Reward Programs

Credit cards, which offer mileage or other travel rewards are an easy way to save on travel. One of the drawbacks for the holidays is that many airlines restrict the use of rewards points during the holiday time period.  One way to make the most of these offers is to use the points for other travel and save the cash for use during the holidays.

Sites such as Tesco and Nectar also have loyalty programs where you can earn points redeemable for travel (and other perks) and discounts for making everyday purchases.

Some credit cards and loyalty programs offer cashback and other rebates which can be used for any type of purchase you choose, which makes them ideal for use to help offset the cost of your Christmas holiday.

Airfare

Airlines have little incentive to offer great deals during the Christmas holiday, and as most people are aware, raise their rates during peak travel time.

That does not mean that you cannot find deals, it just takes more work.

Fortunately there are a number of apps and sites which can help take away some of the burden of searching.

For starters take advantage of some of the tricks experienced travellers use.  You are likely to save more money if you purchase a ticket on Tuesday than if you purchase the same ticket on Friday, Saturday or Monday. Thursdays and Mondays tend to be the least expensive days to travel.  Having a certain amount of flexibility can net you some decent savings.  The Hopper app is useful in predicting whether the fare you found is likely to go up or down in price and has proven to be fairly accurate in predicting when the fare is likely to change.

The fare comparison sites are also a must and they routinely find the best deals and the most complete set of options.  SkyScanner, Travel Super Market and Kayak are among the best.

If you put off your travel plans until the last moment, there are a number of apps like Get the Flight Out, which look for last minute travel deals. Airlines will often offer unsold seats at a substantial discount if you are willing and able to travel at a moment’s notice.

Trains

Rail travel is a little more difficult in terms of finding deals, but there are some tricks that come in handy.  Just remember that booking last minute whether on British Rail or Eurostar is likely to be expensive.

You will generally get the best deals on Eurostar if you book 120 days out and avoid weekend travel. If you are have flexible travel plans be sure to check out their deals pages.

Red Spotted Hanky is a nifty app that compares all of the various fares available and helps you find the best deal. If you have a bit of time, the Split Ticketing site can often find excellent deals as long as you are willing to go a bit out of your way instead of directly from Point A to Point B.

 Lodging

Even in non-peak times hotels and resorts are expensive. Much like the airlines, hotels set their rates based on demand.  Fortunately there are a number of alternatives to traditional hotel stays and tools available to lessen the impact of lodging on your travel budget.

The “sharing” movement which has brought about the rise of Uber and other now household names started with the lodging and accommodation sector.

Sites like LoveHomeSwap connect travellers who are interested in trading homes during holidays for free. If the concept of having trading spaces is not your cup of tea sites like OwnersDirect and AirBnb have thousands of apartments, homes and villas ranging from cosy cottages to luxury villas that accommodate large groups at a fraction of the cost of typical hotels.  If cost is a bigger factor than luxury consider a hostel stay or visit Couchsurfing, a site that matches travellers with local hosts.

For those that prefer hotel stays for their holidays Roomer and Cancelon offer great deals on unused reservations. The main drawback to these is that it is virtually impossible to book a room far in advance.

Don’t forget that you can always save money when travelling back home by using TransferGO

2016-09-16

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