Savvy shopping will knock 58% off the price of your holiday

January 26, 2011

Holidaymakers could be wasting hundreds of pounds by failing to get the best prices when booking flights, exchanging currency and arranging extras such as hire cars.
The research, conducted by The Co-operative Travel, shows that a typical family of four could save up to £1,430* or 58% of the cost of an average family holiday to Spain (£2,464 or £616 per person), if they maximised their possible savings.
The study reveals that the largest savings are to be found when buying flights, particularly if you can be flexible over the date on which you choose to fly.
Researchers looked at the cheapest available one-way tickets to a selection of leading holiday destinations for every day of 2011.  Within any given month it was found that travellers could make an average saving of £148 by switching from the most expensive day in that month to the cheapest*. 
This saving was even higher in months where prices were increased due to school holidays, rising to average savings of £217 around the Easter half term holidays.
The findings also show that it’s important to book certain items at the right time.  Car hire in particular is much cheaper if booked some months in advance.  Figures show that the price of a hire car for a holiday in August was £150 less if booked in March than if it was left until May**.
Playing the currency market can also pay dividends.  In 2010, savvy shoppers taking advantage of fluctuating exchange rates saved an average of £49.89 for every €500 purchased or £43.92 for every $500***.
Changing money in advance on the high street, rather than leaving it late and using airport exchanges, also saves a significant amount; £47 for €500 and £40 for $500 exchanged****.
Trevor Davis, director of retail distribution at The Co-operative Travel, said: "Doing your research, being flexible and booking well in advance, can save holidaymakers sizable sums of money, sometimes enough to pay for a second holiday.
“However, it’s not always easy to spot the opportunity and can often require people to put in time, effort and to understand how the market for holidays and services operate.
“Travel agents use these tricks every day to get better prices for their customers, for example by showing people how much they could save by making small changes to their travel plans. 
“However, with the growth of online booking, many holidaymakers are missing out on this advice.  Hopefully, this research will be helpful to these people and save them a considerable amount on this summer’s holiday.”
Top Ways To Make Holiday Savings

  1. When purchasing air travel, research costs for a number of possible dates, you might find that the savings are worth altering your plans for. Even if you choose the cheapest available flight, by altering the day you travel you could save hundreds on a single flight.
    Average savings available on flights to:

    -       Lanzarote – average saving £99.25
    -       Sharm El Sheikh – average saving £125.41
    -       Florida – average saving £253
    -       Rhodes – average saving £78.92
  2. Watch the exchange rates.  If you buy at the best rate, you could save almost 10% of the value you exchange, based on the fluctuations experienced in 2010
  3. Book early for extras. Businesses will offer better prices early in the season when they need to attract customers.  As summer gets closer and the availability of products or services reduces, prices will tend to rise.  Three months delay in booking a hire car, for example, could cost an extra £150.
  4. You pay extra for convenience.  Changing your currency and buying items before you travel means you can shop around for the best price.  You will often pay a premium price at airports or in resort.  For example, changing currency on the high street will save you up to 9%.
  5. Finally, if at all possible avoid the school holidays.  Due to the increased demand, all prices go up significantly.  With the extra bank holiday for the royal wedding, the Easter break is looking particularly expensive in 2011.  The average cost of a one-way flight increases by as much as £217.
    * - £1,430 saving consists of: £1,184 on flight prices (4 return flights), £150 on car hire, £49 by choosing the best exchange rate (for €500), £47 by using a high street rather than airport exchange (for €500).
    ** - source: prices based on a basket of single airfares to leading holiday destinations assessed on a daily basis throughout 2011.
    *** - source:
    **** - difference in cost of exchanging at highest and lowest rates during 2010.
    ***** - source: Which?