Researching and booking holidays

Usually I book our August holiday to Greece around this time of year because there are always some great offers on during the bank holidays. One year we got £100 off per person which makes a huge difference when there are 5 of you.

We usually book with Olympic Holidays. They are so cheap compared to other travel agents going to Greece as they charter their own flights (with 2 airlines you may not necessarily have heard of!) Its fairly late for a lot of people to be booking now but we first booked using them because I had promised Steffan we definitely weren’t going away in August but then I found such a good deal I couldn’t resist!

It depends what you are looking for in a holiday. If it’s your one big holiday of the year then of course you will want something with more luxury and things included. But we like to keep each holiday as cheap as we can so we can afford more. 

I tried to do it booking hotel and flights separately but I couldn’t do it as cheap as Olympic because it’s been months since he low cost airlines released their flights so the prices are now well high. 

When I book any holiday I spend at least a week researching it. I go on to trip advisor and find the top rated hotel/apartment in the area. I always check how many reviews it has too…sometimes the top one is 5 start but it only has 100 reviews whereas the next one down has 2000 reviews but 4.5 star so obviously that one is a better rating. 

I then google the name of the top 5 or 10 to compare and see what price I can get it for with lots of different companies. You’d think going direct to the hotel would be cheapest but it isn’t always. Travel agents buy the rooms in bulk and so get them at a discount they can pass on to you. When we went to Dubai I found a company called Destinology who could get the rooms much cheaper than I could directly. Finding the hotel at the best price is what takes me the longest. 

I then find flights via skyscanner. I move the days around to find the cheapest inbound and outbound within the few days I can travel. That’s we usually end up going for 10 day holidays. Night flights are cheapest but most people are usually put off with kids but don’t be! Especially with young kids they are tired at that time so go to sleep rather than you spending hours trying to entertain them. Skyscanner finds sites that are selling the flights at a cheaper rate than the airline directly. I always google the company to check the reviews before I book them to check they are legitimate. 

It depends on my cash flow as well as to whether I book with a travel agent or do it separately. At least with an agent you can pay just a deposit. Doing it separately you have to pay upfront and that can be a huge outlay.

I always go onto a cash back website just before I pay to check if I can get anymore off the price. Usually there is another £50 or so to save.

I’ve not booked with them yet but Jet2holidays have started to fly from London Stanstead. This is great news as they have only ever gone from “the north” before. They do really good bargains and discounts and go to Sands Beach which is a hotel in Lanzarote that I highly recommend with kids.

In terms of cutting costs on where you stay, We stay in a small traditional Greek apartment/hotel. It has a bar with a pool table, serves food all day and night and had a pool. That is literally it! No kids club, no entertainment (except Greek night!) no water sports or water slides, no TV….nothing! But we love it and it’s the most relaxing holiday we do!

I did initially worry “will the kids be bored?” “What will we do all day?!” Turns out our kids are entertained by a swimming pool all day everyday and don’t need anything else. We tried to do other activities but all they wanted was to be back at the same pool. We do have all the sinkers and water toys, plus we take bags for them full of toys. 

We are going to Nissaki Seaview apartments in Corfu for 3 weeks and for flights and accommodation for all of us it is costing £2,850. 

I refuse to pay to sit together on the flight, its an extra £68! When I was looking at Florida one company tried to charge £225 to sit together! I have generally found that if you check in early enough they will put you together anyway and if they don’t at least one adult will be sat with the kids so we are in 2 groups. Sometimes it better to have the kids separated so they don’t argue and I don’t feel I need to sit holding hands with Steff for the whole flight so I would rather save money! 

We never pay for inflight meals…the kids aren’t keen anyway. Last time we got a take away from Nando’s at Gatwick and took that on! It was by accident as we were supposed to eat in but we ran out of time. People must have hated us for the smell onboard. And handing out a whole chicken wasn’t easy but the kids thought it was brilliant!

Luggage we can’t fit 5 cases in the car anyway so I only pay for 3 between us. When we go to Greece we don’t need anything other than swimwear really so the third case I fill with food. I take our own cereal and pasta, tuna, biscuits and soup. All of these things are expensive overseas and we will eat out at night but lunch times and breakfast I like to save money. We top it up with local food from the supermarket but the kids don’t want to eat much when it’s hot so they are happy with snacks from home.

At the moment I’m looking at booking for February next year. I’ve looked into skiing, Dubai, Caribbean, Thailand, Mexico and Canaries. I’ve spent 2 weeks already and I’m still researching! I want the best weather for the cheapest price…I’m trying to decide whether to pay more just because it’s places I haven’t been before just for he security of knowing it’s all ok or wondering whether to do it separately and save nearly £1000! Steffan doesn’t get involved much but he’s usually the one telling me to have confidence and we will be fine so that why I brave it and book it separately. Think I’ve got another week or two of researching yet, but I do get to a point where I start to get bored and then just book something totally random.

Thanks for reading!

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