A lot of you often ask how I book my holidays, where do I search for cheap flights & affordable hotels hence I decided to put this post together and answer the most repetitive questions.
Where do I find cheap flights?
I use SkyScanner to search for reasonably priced flights, I personally think Skyscanner is amazing as it allows you to search for the cheapest flights on selected month & week or day. Skyscanner compares the prices of all airlines – so it technically works just like Expedia – it’s just much better as it compares more airlines than other, similar websites and it’s completely free.
If you don’t where you’d like to go, just search ”Everywhere” and SkyScanner will show you all available options for selected dates! (This option makes my life so much easier, I just pick the cheapest flights and voila!)
Of course you have to bear in mind that flights to European countries are usually much cheaper than flights to Asia for instance, so if you’re planning to travel on budget just to discover places you have never been to before, choose Europe. Please, don’t be too hard on yourself, remember that you don’t have to travel far to find the most incredible places. The truth is we all dream of Maldives, Bahamas, and pink flamingos on Aruba’s beach, but if you can’t afford it, don’t put yourself down, there’s still plenty of options!
Jack’s Flight Club
Basically all you need to do is register for free, or register with ”premium” account (which in theory means you’ll get more notifications with offers, but I think free subscription is good enough) and Jack (who calls himself a flight hacking ninja) will send you emails with the cheapest flights to random countries, just like this:
DIY vs Travel agency – which one is cheaper?
Booking your holidays via travel agency is usually much easier than organising it all by yourself, you just decide where and when you’d like to go, pay the monies and here you go, job done, you can rest assured that everything is sorted for you and you are legally protected too, as tour operators selling package holidays are required to adhere to the PTR by law.
I have never personally booked any holidays through local (physical) agency, but used lastminute.com to book our flights & hotel in Marrakesh and onthebeach.com to book our flights, transfers and hotel in Spain (Palma and Lanzarote) and Portugal.
It’s difficult to compare DIY with Travel agency as it’s a personal preference and I’d say it really depends on when and where you’d like to go.
You can find some hot deals on websites such as onthebeach.com etc. during off-peak season so it’s definitely worth having a look. Also, Travel agencies have some sort of agreements with airlines & hotels, and the discounts they provide will not always be available for those booking directly via hotel’s & airline’s websites.
Is it cheaper to book holidays independently than through Travel agency? Let’s check it out!
I’ll now compare a random deal from Onthebeach.com vs DIY so we can can see the difference.
I’ve found an offer with flights from Birmingham to Alicante (operated by Ryanair and Jet2) & 4 nights at Sol Pelicanos Ocas, no transfers included.
£335 (per person).
Independent booking from official websites cost:
£247,36 + £47,43 + £14,99 = £309,78 (per person).
By booking independently you save £25,22
In this case, booking exactly the same holiday independently is cheaper than booking via travel website.
By doing my own little research I found out, that booking holidays by yourself is usually cheaper and I find it much more enjoyable, plus I’d rather do whatever I want, whenever I want than follow the path. But as mentioned before – it’s a personal choice.
What’s the best time & day to book your flights? Are last minute flights the cheapest?
I have read tones of posts on how to find the best deal when booking flights, tried most of them and not all of them are actually true. So here’s what I think based on my own experience:
When you see cheap flights, book them, DO NOT WAIT till last minute. I’ve learnt my lesson last year. I found cheap flights but was busy at work and decided to book them another time. Then, couple of days later, I was all ready to book our flights but the price increased by £40 – Of course I booked the flights anyways, but when you find reasonably cheap flights, book them ASAP. You can risk it all and wait till the very last day and find it cheaper, however you may miss a good bargain and the prices will increase OR even worse – the tickets may no longer be available.
Early flights are the cheapest – and that’s not the only reason you should book early flights, if you choose to fly as early as 6am, you’ll have more time for exploring!
If possible, fly on weekdays (ideally from Tuesdays to Thursdays). These days often have better availability and lower fares.
I had to book my flights to Poland twice this year to see my doctor, and managed to buy flights from Birmingham to Warsaw *return* for as little as £30, departing on Tuesday, returning on Thursday via Ryanair – that’s cheaper than train tickets from Birmingham to London though!
Avoid booking during peak season (May-Sep). Although it’s the best season for those seeking sun, tan and parties, the prices are much higher than during autumn & winter.
I personally love travelling between October – April, most places (such as restaurants, museums, shops etc.) are open throughout the year so we never miss on anything!
Most people are concerned about the weather during off-peak season. We’ve been to Greece, Spain and Portugal several times during April & October, and it only rained once in Palma and once in Portugal – it didn’t affect our holiday in any way as it only rained for an hour or so.
How I find & book the accommodation.
I always book my flights first, then ”worry” about the accommodation
Worst case scenario: We’ll end up sleeping at the airport.
Just kidding. I LOVE to search for accommodations, it’s like a therapy for me!
I read blogs, articles and reviews and seek inspiration from my travel guru’s on instagram when I need to, but most of the time I just scroll through booking.com where I find most of my hotels.
I always compare the prices on booking.com with the prices on hotel’s official website just to make sure I book the cheaper one.
When booking in advance with unlimited budget, I just use google, by simply typing what exactly I’m looking for. That’s how I booked our Villa in Mykonos. I’ve used phrases such as ”luxury hotels in Mykonos” or ”Hotels with private pool Mykonos” and just read through articles and recommendations.
The Telegraph is very useful and easy to use as it show you the list of hotels with photos and prices.
And last but not least – Airbnb – my top choice for finding accommodations. Airbnb is a marketplace for travelers to rent apartments and other accommodations from individuals — usually at rates much lower than a hotel. We’ve rented an affordable apartment in Milan (hotel prices were just enormous) with the most amazing views on the main street of Corso Buenos Aires, rented from a fantastic and caring host. And that’s another great fact about Airbnb, that you can check host’s rating and read past renter’s reviews. Airbnb has all you need to book your ideal apartment, you’ll find a Google street view of the property’s street, so you can get a better feeling for the neighborhood. Your personal details and the payment are processed via Airbnb so you don’t have to worry about being scammed.
I hope you enjoyed this article, please remember that travelling is all about having great time – wherever you go, just make the most out of it and have fun!