Before you book your holiday, it's sensible to weigh up your options. However, the huge number of travel-related websites has provided us with an overload of information, which can make researching a holiday online difficult.
Too much choice can become overwhelming: it can force us into making the wrong decision, or perhaps worse, it can force us into not making a decision at all. To prevent you from falling into that trap, we've created these top ten tips, which will help you to narrow your research, focus your choice and ultimately make the right holiday decisions.
Think About What You Want From A Holiday First
Before you even start researching, ask yourself what you want from a holiday. For some, sun will be top of the list. Others might crave the frosty freshness of an alpine retreat. Perhaps you want to go on a relaxing break for just you and a partner? Or maybe you desire an action packed holiday for the family? Making these decisions before you start will help to narrow your research.
Double Check The Headline Price Advertised By Comparison Sites
Using price comparison websites is an easy way to check the prices across different airlines. However, the headline prices on such sites can be misleading. Price comparison sites aren't always up to date and they don't account for extra costs that can differ from person to person – such as baggage, insurance and booking fees.
For this reason, you should consider picking two or three flights from the results page of a price comparison site, before double checking the price on the airline's website too. This way, you'll be able to compare all the potential variance in extra costs as well.
Phone The Hotel And Ask For A Better Price
In a similar way to booking a flight, using price comparison websites can help you to find the cheapest hotels. However, as hotels have to pay commission to price comparison websites for every booking, it may be worth ringing directly to see if you can get a better deal. You'd be amazed how often this works, plus you can ask for specific rooms or views which you can't do when booking online.
Price Shouldn’t Be The Only Measure Of Value
When choosing your hotel, remember that a low price isn't the only way to judge value. For every hotel that you consider booking, ask yourself:
- How far is the hotel from the airport?
- What public transport links are available?
- How close is the hotel from all the activities I have planned?
- Does the hotel have all the facilities my family will need?
- Can I cancel or change the booking easily?
Some hotels keep their headline price low by creating a non-cancellation policy – so you should always look out for this. You may initially save yourself money by picking the cheapest hotel, but if you don’t take other factors into consideration, you could end up out of pocket in the long run.
Mid-week and during unsociable hours is the cheapest time to book flights for your holiday. Use the filters on price comparison sites to search for flights within these 'undesirable times'.
In addition, booking your flights and accommodation during school holidays can drive up the price significantly. School term times and holiday dates vary by region, so if you're planning on avoiding these peak times, use this government site for your research.
Don't Take The Weather With You
All destinations are subject to seasonal fluctuations in weather, however slight they may be. As such, you should research the average weather conditions for where you want to travel, when you want to travel.
Rainfall and humidity levels can become factors that make or break a holiday, so consider researching these too. It's also important to note that exotic locations can experience more extreme variations in weather, such as monsoons or hurricanes.
Holiday-weather.com is a great site where you can research all these weather-based factors and more, for every destination in the world.
Lean On Us For Destination Inspiration
If you still can't decide where to go, we have created a road trip resource to help provide you with some inspiration. Within this resource you will find road trip suggestions for some of the best drives in Europe and the UK, as well as some of the best things to see and do along each route.
The travel sections of national newspapers such as the Guardian and the Independent also offer a host of reviews on a huge number of holiday destinations throughout the globe. In addition, this website is a great source for finding major events and attractions that coincide with your visit to a location.
Learn To 'Read Between The Lines' Of Online Reviews
Review sites such as Tripadvisor have become increasingly popular to people researching holidays because they offer word-of-mouth style opinion on a huge scale. However, reading reviews online to create an accurate perception of what somewhere is like can be deceiving.
For one, online reviews are opinions, which can vary significantly from person to person. But more importantly, because of the growing value of online reviews, some companies have been caught uploading fake reviews to sites like Tripadvsior in a bid to show themselves in a positive light.
Yes, online reviews can be a fantastic source for information, but you will need to 'read between the lines' when using them for researching your next holiday.
Use Forums To Ask Location Specific Questions
Searching forums is a great way to seek very specific advice on a holiday-based query. You can search forums to see if your query has been answered by someone else already, or you can post a question yourself. On average, questions that are posted in forums are answered within a day or two.
The Tripadvisor forum is great for general holiday queries. Or, if you're looking for advice on how to save money on your holiday, you could try the MoneySavingExpert.com forums. The Apparelyzed forum also has a dedicated thread discussing how accessible various holiday destinations are for people in wheel chairs.
Read Our Guide To Booking Cheap Car Hire
Hiring a car while on holiday can provide you with the flexibility to enjoy your stay at your own pace. However, if you're not careful, hiring a car can send the costs of your holiday spiralling out of control. This is because many rental companies lower their headline price to appear at the top of price comparison sites, before selling expensive extras such as car hire excess insurance to increase their profits.
To help, we've created 'The Savvy Traveller’s Guide to Cheap Holiday Car Hire'. Within this guide you will find eight easy to follow steps for finding the best and cheapest hire car deals around – including how you can save a fortune by buying car hire insurance before you travel.