Thankfully, In today’s day and age, building a DIY holiday couldn’t be easier, and is actually becoming more of the norm than the package or travel agent options. There’s plenty of bargains to be had if you shop around, and technology is making the process so much faster than ever before.
We’re the self-proclaimed Kings and Queens of DIY travelling, using our knowledge and resources to bag ourselves the best deals for Europe, America and further beyond.
We’d like to state for the record, that nothing in this post is sponsored content or advertisement. This is all advice taken from our experience and any resources listed are genuinely our go-to resources for saving money on DIY travel.
Book Flights at the Right Time
There are a lot of theories about the right time to book a flight, but we like real data and numbers (proof!) and so we stick to the advice given by Opodo.
Using 12 months of bookings data, Opodo crunched the numbers and identified that January is the best time to book an international trip. Of course, there are a huge number of variables at play here – flight duration, popularity of the destination and demand, amongst many others. Because of this, the Opodo study focuses on averages.
Booking a flight in January costs an average of £241, whereas the same flights in July can be as high as £288. This is likely due to the number of New Year sales, as well as less people booking flights after an expensive Christmas.
Getting even more Granular, the Opodo study also identifies that the best day of the week to book a flight is Sunday, with mid-week bookings seeing increases as much as 20%. This makes a Sunday in January the ‘optimum’ time to book a flight, according to the numbers collected.
How Far in Advance Should I Book Flights?
It’s easy to believe that the further you book in advance, the cheaper a flight is, but this isn’t the case, and actually sometimes it can be more expensive. Sticking with the same study from Opodo, this is how far in advance you should book flights depending on the location:
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Use Comparison Sites, They Work
Imagine a time when you had to scroll through the individual websites of each airline and hotel company to try and find the best price. Can’t picture it? Neither can we. We’ve been spoiled with the rapid increase in comparison sites and their popularity.
Select your destination and dates and within the click of a finger you will be given all of your available options, starting with the cheapest. Just like when you’re looking for your next car insurer, but much more exciting. You’ll be surprised by some of the fluctuations in price across operators for what is essentially the same thing.
You can use hotel comparisons, flight comparisons, and there are also complete package holiday comparisons. Okay so, this isn’t strictly DIY but the option is there if you want to use it.
There are a huge amount of online comparison sites, but we can only vouch for some of the ones that we have used in the past and are happy to recommend. Some of these include:
- Sky Scanner (Flights)
- Trivago (Hotels)
- Kayak (Flights & Hotels)
- Trip Advisor (Flights, Hotels & Attractions)
Leave The Heavy Baggage Behind
We learned the hard way that you probably never need as much stuff as you pack. Have you ever found yourself not wearing the 30 pair of shorts or dresses you packed for your week holiday? We’ve all done that a few times.
There’s a real saving to be had on not taking large suitcases with you on holiday, and there’s really not much sacrifice to be made. This post isn’t about travelling on a budget, more so about being savvy, and hand-luggage only is a great way to travel. Most airlines have no weight limit, as it all comes down to size.
Our preference is a backpack. You can get more than you can ever imagine in there, and it’s free to take onboard, making a decent saving on luggage costs, especially if there’s a few people on the trip.
If you don’t think one bag is enough, a majority of airlines have a ‘priority’ service which allows you to take 2 for a small fee, averaging about £10. It’s double the hand luggage and still much cheaper than taking a case. Winner.
Other Ways to Travel For Less
If it’s more about the travelling than it is about the where and when, flexibility is probably the number one key to bagging a real bargain. It’s a luxury that not everybody will have, but if you can narrow it down to a particular month of the year with no specific destination in mind, you will be very very surprised at the places you could end up and the price you will pay.
This method works particularly well for city breaks, and we’ve been to many European cities that we hadn’t even considered until we booked a cheap flight. It’s a lot of fun, and we’d recommend it to anybody who is opened for a bit of spontaneity.
Do the maths and consider whether all inclusive really is cheaper than self catering, and think about the facilities you pay for at a more expensive hotel that you might never use. A prime example of this is spa hotels, usually dearer, do you actually use the spa?
Check out our entire money-saving post category for more tips on travelling for less.