Pól Ó Conghaile: One sure-fire way to save money on your holidays
Travelling off-season, in creative ways, can save you a fortune on holidays our Travel Editor says
How can I save money on holidays?
It's the question I'm asked most often, and there's one simple answer.
Looking beyond school holidays and busy seasons not only offers cheaper rates, it brings fewer crowds, shorter queues, and finds locals in a friendlier frame of mind.
On a micro level, you'll find less competition among colleagues for annual leave dates; on a macro one you'll help offset the growing problem of overtourism by spreading the 'seasonality' of visits.
Yes, there are sacrifices. You may find less sunshine, fewer direct flights and of course, school is an issue if you have kids of that age.
But thinking creatively about your hols - and not just in seven-day-package-sized chunks - can open up a whole new world of travel options.
1. Cruise in winter
The price of Mediterranean cruises plummets in winter months, due to cooler weather. While you mightn't catch as many rays on the top decks, you will assuredly catch a bargain. MSC (msccruises.ie) is a particularly good line at this time; you can also book it through travel agents like Cassidy Travel or clickandgo.com.
2. Five-star savers
Hotel prices sky-rocket in peak season. But you can score the same luxury for less by staying midweek or in quieter months.
Adare Manor, for example, has B&B in a classic king from €340 in November. In August, the same room starts at €650. Make sure to call hotels for best rates before booking (sites like booking.com charge a commission they will often offer to beat on the phone).
3. Winter resorts in summer
There's more to the Alps than snow, you know. What about a walking or mountain break in summer or shoulder season?
The peaks of Austria, France, Italy and Switzerland, not to mention places like Lapland, offer more variety than beach holidays, and are keen to fill beds and spread the tourism love outside of ski seasons.
Spas, hiking and mountain biking are just the start.
4. Big Apple bargains
January and February are not only the cheapest months to visit New York, they also see Restaurant Week and Broadway Week bring discounts aimed at driving tourism in slow season (nycgo.com).
Tour America (touramerica.ie) has flights plus four nights from €513pp next January, for example. And that's not even starting on the January sales.
5. Think small
Confined to school holidays? Think outside the box.
Barcelona is super busy, but what about Girona? Instead of the Algarve, would a week in Alentejo work?
As well as lower prices, you'll find fewer crowds... and have a different holiday story to share back home.
Read more:25 family travel tips: How to get the most out of your hard-earned holiday