Looking for a great value break? Whatever the holiday, we’ve got some ideas to help you save money...
There's nothing better than going on holiday... except knowing you got a great deal into the bargain. Tour operators and travel agents often have last minute deals on offer, but what if you can't drop everything at a moment's notice? Well, it's quite possible to grab yourself a bit of a bargain at any time of year - if you do a little homework and follow a few golden rules.
Book on-line and book early
Many operators offer steep discounts if you book on-line - particularly if you book well in advance. Luxury Italy holidays specialist Citalia sells its holidays through travel agents, but you can book them on-line too at www.citalia.com/ at a considerable saving. Citalia's Rome hotels for example offer great value for money. Book the 5* Hotel Majestic in Rome before March 2009 and you’ll get a 10% early booking discount. There are also complimentary room upgrades for certain periods. This is just one example of a whole range of offers available on many of the hotels bookable on-line at www.citalia.com/ which also include complimentary nights and dining upgrades.
Keep your eyes on travel trends
Dubai holidays offer great value at the moment. Why? One reason is that airfares to the Middle East are low compared to other longer haul destinations. These routes are hugely competitive and the Middle Eastern airlines are more insulated from the soaring cost of fuel because their home nations pump most of the world's oil. Abu Dhabi, Doha in Qatar and Dubai are all dashing to outdo each other as luxury holiday destinations and the competition is fierce on the top-notch accommodation front too. If you just want sun, sea and superb service, the Middle East is very hard to beat right now. (Though do ask about what building work is going on near your chosen resort as some areas still look like building sites in places.)
Sign up for discounts
Many operators would love to have your on their mailing lists - both for emails and brochures. Sign up for them and you'll often get advance notice of the best deals. Luxury holiday specialist Hayes and Jarvis offers breaks to all corners of the globe. Sign up for emails at www.hayesandjarvis.co.uk/request/email and great deals will drop into your in-box each week: Maldives holidays in the sun, Egypt holidays exploring the ancient treasures, family safaris, romantic breaks... there's plenty to choose from. Most operators offer these deals: Villa holiday specialist Meon Villas is one other. Submit your email at www.meonvillas.co.uk/request/email and not only do you get the latest offers emailed to you, you're entered into a prize draw to win a free break too! For the latest Italy offers sign up to Citalia’s newsletter www.citalia.com/request/email
Go self catering
You'll obviously have far more control over the total cost of your holiday if you don't eat out the whole time. Villa holidays are a great way to enjoy high standards of accommodation without forking out 5 star prices for extras you might not need like 24 hour reception, porters, and the like. Meon Villas has some great deals on self-catering villas all around the Med: villas in Cyprus, villas in the Algarve, villas in Corfu and many other Greek islands, and villas in Spain are just some of the options on offer. Self catering is a particularly good option if you have kids too. Meon Villas has a range of villa holidays specifically for families, with gated pools and single storey villas for young children and annexes and entertainment (such as snooker tables, Playstations and in-door gymnasiums) for older children or teenagers.
One word of warning if you're hunting for great deals on-line. It's tempting to book flights and accommodation separately. This might seem cheaper, but there are often hidden costs that you forget to include - transfers in particular. If you know what you want, booking a package with a fully bonded tour operator often works out as cheap once you add-in these extras. And, importantly, if you book with an ATOL or ABTA-bonded operator, you know your holiday is safe even if the airline goes bust. Nice to have a little peace of mind.