Saturday 23 November 2019

No longer staycationing? Five ways to save on foreign holidays

The Irish are back holidaying abroad again. Some travel agents have seen bookings for sun holidays jump by about a fifth over the last year (Katie Collins/PA Wire)
The Irish are back holidaying abroad again. Some travel agents have seen bookings for sun holidays jump by about a fifth over the last year (Katie Collins/PA Wire)
Louise McBride

Louise McBride

The Irish are back holidaying abroad again. Some travel agents have seen bookings for sun holidays jump by about a fifth over the last year. Demand for all-inclusive trips is on the rise. Sunway, for example, says it has seen bookings for its Club Med all-inclusive holidays jump by almost 50pc over the last year.

But what works out cheaper - a package holiday or a DIY one? And how else can you save on this year's holiday?

Here are five rules of thumb which should save you a few bob on your foreign trip.

1. Go package for family holidays

Package holidays usually work out cheaper for families than the DIY route. This is because packages include flights, accommodation, airport transfers, and - if it's an all-inclusive holiday - a certain amount of meals and drinks too. Unless you are an incredibly skilled and lucky bargain hunter, the cost of all of these things will add up if you are arranging them yourself.

Last week, for example, Sunway offered an all-inclusive deal to Izmir, Turkey, for €2,229 for a family of two adults and one child. That deal included direct flights from Dublin (flying out on June 28), seven nights in the four-star Palmin Hotel in Kusadasi, meals, airport transfers and a baggage allowance of 20kg per person.

Earlier this week, this paper checked how much it would have cost that same family to arrange a similar holiday to Izmir themselves. Were the family to book return flights to Izmir through Aer Lingus, the flights would have cost €1,714, including a baggage allowance of 20kg for each person. (The Aer Lingus prices were based on the family flying out on June 30 and home on July 7 as these were the nearest available dates to the ones in the Sunway offer). Were the family then to book a standard room in the Palmin Hotel directly through the hotel's website, they would have paid €693 for seven nights' accommodation for those dates, according to a quote received by this paper. This brought the cost of the DIY holiday to €2,407 - already almost €200 more than the Sunway deal and the family still has to pay for meals as well as airport transport to and from the hotel.

2. Go DIY if single and heading off the beaten track

Package holidays usually work out cheaper for one- or two-week stays to traditional holiday destinations. DIY generally is better if you're single, going away for a different trip length, and to a less visited spot.

The Spanish Camino has become so popular in recent years that it can probably no longer be described as off the beaten track. However, you could pay twice the price for a trip to the Camino if you go through a travel agent than if you go it alone.

A week's walking holiday to the Camino this September could easily cost you €800 if you go through a travel agent. That price includes return flights from Dublin, airport transfers, hotel accommodation and local guides.

However, you could keep the cost of your trip to below €350 if you arrange your own holiday to the Camino and are prepared to rough it a bit.

To do the last 100km of the Camino, for example, you can fly to Santiago de Compostela airport. Early last week, you could have snapped up return flights with Aer Lingus to Santiago de Compostela in early September for about €230. Public albergues (government-sponsored and run hostels) cost about €6 a night; other hostels cost about €10 a night. So a week's Camino accommodation could easily be kept below the €70 mark. You can get cheap enough local buses from Santiago airport to different points on the trail.

3. Book early

"The earlier you book, the greater the choice you have - and the greater your chance of saving money," said Jeff Collins, managing director of travel company,

The idea that you can get a good deal by booking last minute is a bit of a myth, according to Mr Collins.

"You're only getting a good deal out of the holidays that no-one else wants," said Mr Collins. "Book a sun holiday last minute and you won't be in the right location or hotel, and you'll be a 20-minute drive from the beach - so you'll be paying for taxis to the beach and back all the time."

Booking early will also make it easier for you to snap up cheap flights, a well-priced family hotel room, or a 'no single supplement' offer (if travelling alone).

4. Try a new destination

"You can get good deals on new destinations like Rhodes - or on destinations that are trying to encourage people to visit them again, such as Crete," said Mr Collins.

Recent civil unrest in Greece has discouraged some tourists from visiting popular Greek tourist spots. So you could snap up a holiday to the Greek islands for a lot cheaper today than you would have before the austerity protests started.

5. Travel off-peak

Families can save a lot of money by travelling before the school summer holidays. A family break in May or early June will easily save you hundreds - maybe even thousands - on a holiday in July or August.

Those going the DIY route can save hundreds by flying midweek rather than over the weekend. "Tuesday is the cheapest day of the week to fly," said Paul Hackett, CEO of the online travel company, "To get the best deal for a weekend city break, fly out on a Saturday and come home on a Tuesday."

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