Summer holiday 2023: 5 ways to save money when booking a holiday according to Which? money expert
If you’re looking to book a holiday this summer but are put off by the high prices there are a few simple ways you can slash the costs. Whether you’re looking for an affordable break in the UK, or you’re looking to go further afield Which? has five tips to save holiday makers money this summer.
Simple ways to cut costs include changing the location of your trip to somewhere more affordable, and planning ahead to get discounted rates. Ele Clark, Which? Money Expert, said: “With all the travel chaos we witnessed last summer plus the recent ferry port issues, it’s no surprise that many of us are looking for a holiday in the UK this year. Although the cost of living is adding pressure to household budgets, there are ways to save money on a staycation.
“Looking even just a few miles beyond your preferred location can result in significant savings. You might also get a lower price or free extras by booking your hotel directly, while the opposite is true for car hire, where using a trusted broker could be much cheaper than going direct.”
Be flexible on location
Choosing the right destination can have a big impact on holiday budgets and accommodation prices. Which? found that it’s possible to save more than £900 on a one-week UK holiday – just by swapping a well-known location for a similar destination a short distance away.
For example, the average cost of a hotel room in Dartmouth, Devon, which scored an impressive 83 per cent in Which?’s survey of the UK’s best seaside towns, was £136 per night. Just 40 minutes down the road in Salcombe (71%), the average was almost double the price at £265 per night.
Compare prices before booking
When booking hotel accommodation, it is worth shopping around for the best prices. Browse online comparison sites for longer stays in hotels, as the cumulative savings can be substantial.
In 2022, Which? investigated the best and worst comparison sites and found that consumers could make substantial savings on lengthier bookings by using certain sites.
Try booking directly with the hotel
Using comparison sites to check prices and locations is a good place to start, but it’s also worth contacting the hotel or B&B directly. Which? found that holidaymakers can often get even better rates or perks – like free breakfasts or champagne on arrival – by cutting out the middleman. This is often due to rate disparity clauses, meaning that hotels aren’t allowed to advertise cheaper rates on their own websites if they’re in a contract with a booking or comparison site, but doesn’t cover quotes they give by phone or email.
Which? looked on Hotels.com and found a superior double room at The George Hotel on Loch Fyne in Argyll and Bute, for £215. By calling the hotel, Which? was offered the same room on the same night for £25 less.
Book car hire early and consider brokers
Car hire prices are continuing to soar, meaning the earlier you book, the better. Which? found you will usually get a better price when booking via a broker rather than going direct. Some brokers also throw in extras for free.
For instance, book with Which? Recommended Provider Zest Car Rental and you’ll get excess reimbursement insurance and, often, a second driver free of charge. Which? looked at prices for a week’s hire in June, picking up a car in Bristol, and Zest quoted £735 with car rental company Dollar – and the price included an additional driver. However, when booking with Dollar direct, the same car cost £744 for the same week and it was an additional £10 per day for an extra driver. That’s £79 more.
Search for set menus
If you’re planning to eat out while on holiday, check whether nearby restaurants offer a set menu deal, which might just be available at lunchtime or on particular days of the week, and enjoy the same cuisine and service for a fraction of the price.
For example, at The Witchery by the Castle in Edinburgh a main meal on the fine dining menu can cost around £40 per person, but they also offer a two-course candlelit lunch, available from 12pm to 4.30pm, which would cost a couple just under £60.
Chain restaurants also offer great deals – even in otherwise pricey locations. Eat between 12pm and 7pm in Côte in Covent Garden, and you’ll get a three-course set menu for £20.95.