AFTER two hellish summers of Covid restrictions, a much-needed holiday is one expense hardworking families do not want to jettison – if they can possibly avoid it.
In the second of our Squeeze Team specials, we have tips for spending less on flights, hotels and car hire, plus advice on how to avoid the most common rip-offs when it comes to travel money and more.
We also bring you a host of ideas for cheaper days out right here in this country.
And we hear from one savvy traveller who saved a bundle on his long-haul hol.
GO LAST WEEK OF AUGUST: Choose the right week to travel and you could save a fortune.
Flight comparison site Skyscanner checks millions of prices daily and its boffins have crunched the numbers to reveal the best time to fly.
The first two weeks of the school holidays are the most popular time
Delaying a trip until the final week could save you up to 44 per cent.
Prices across all destinations for the first week of the summer holidays average at £429 – but tumble to £241 in the final week.
FLY MIDWEEK: You can also save a fortune by being flexible.
Jetting off on a Saturday is always the most expensive option.
By flying to the US on a Tuesday during the summer holidays instead of a Saturday, a family of four will save on average £380.
Or save an average of £244 by flying to Greece on a Thursday instead of a Saturday.
For those willing to be spontaneous, Skyscanner has an “everywhere” option on its drop-down search list that will reveal the cheapest destinations for your chosen travel dates
CHANGE AIRPORT: It is also worth checking airports you would not normally consider flying from.
Families in the North of England should look at Scottish airports this summer to make the most of the different school holidays.
INCLUDE BAGGAGE COST: Low-cost airlines may have the lowest prices at first glance but if you are travelling as a family and need to add on luggage, costs can skyrocket.
Compare prices with luggage included.
PICK UP THE PHONE: Research by Which? found holidaymakers get a better deal four in five times when they call the hotel direct.
First, do your research by looking on comparison sites such as Kayak and Tripadvisor.
Then call the hotel to see if it will beat that price.
BOOK HOSTELS OR VILLAS FOR LARGER GROUPS: If you are travelling in a group or have a larger family, consider hostels and apartments as well as hotels.
Hostels are often located very centrally.
You can book an entire dorm to yourself for six or more people so you will not have to share with strangers.
Apartments or even villas booked via Airbnb or Vrbo also offer cheaper ways of travelling with a crowd.
JOIN LOYALTY SCHEMES FOR DISCOUNTS: Many hotel chains have loyalty programmes than are free to join, such as Hilton Honors, InterContinental Hotels’ IHG Rewards Club, Marriott Bonvoy and Best Western Rewards.
Members of these loyalty schemes are more likely to get offered an upgrade upon check-in – or even discounts calling to book.
SHOP AND SAVE ON HOTELS: Tesco Clubcard points can be used to buy rewards vouchers at hotel chains such as Hilton and Mercure, plus Butlins and via hotels.com.
For example, £5 in Clubcard vouchers gets you £15 in hotels.com vouchers.
TRY STUDENT DIGS: For bargain city stays this summer, consider university accommodation. Universityrooms.com has places in more than 30 cities .
With many single rooms, it is good for solo travellers.
CHECK CARD CHARGES: Some banks charge up to £1.50 every time you use debit cards abroad.
Some of the worst offenders include TSB, Lloyds, Halifax and the Bank of Scotland.
GET A FEE-FREE CARD: You could make major savings by using a debit or credit card that offers fee-free spending.
According to moneysavingexpert.com, the best credit cards to use include Halifax’s Clarity card (with Mastercard) and Barclaycard Rewards card (Visa).
The Barclaycard also offers 0.25 per cent cash back on most spending.
The best debit card for travel, says moneysavingexpert.com, is from the new Chase app-only account.
Its Chase Mastercard offers fee-free spending and cash withdrawals worldwide, plus one per cent cashback for 12 months.
NEVER PAY IN POUNDS: Many hotels, shops and cash machines abroad will ask if you would like to pay in pounds sterling or the local currency.
NEVER choose to pay in pounds.
That allows the retailer to do the currency conversion, often giving you a much worse rate than if your bank back home did the conversion.
ORDER TRAVEL MONEY IN ADVANCE: For travel money, never use airport bureaux de change.
With their captive market, the rates are always terrible.
The best deals can normally be found by ordering money in advance, often online.
TravelMoneyMax is a tool from moneysavingexpert.com that will show you the best places to get cash based on your destination, date of travel and amount you want to exchange.
VISIT FREE MUSEUMS: There are loads of fun things to do and places to visit that will not cost you money, from parks for sunny days to museums and art galleries when the rain comes.
There are free museums all over the country from the Science Museum and Natural History Museum in South London to the National Railway Museum in York and People’s History Museum in Manchester.
For ideas, see kidsdaysout.co.uk
GET OUTDOORS FOR NOTHING: Kids can let of steam for less by heading to the great outdoors.
The National Trust has free online maps and details of great walks all over the country.
Our forests are a great way to entertain the children without spending a penny.
Play Poohsticks at Ashdown Forest in East Sussex or discover creepy crawlies on the Superworm activity trail at Cannock Chase Forest, West Midlands.
Find your nearest at forestryengland.uk.
TAKE THE TRAIN AND SAVE: Let the train take the strain and you could bag two-for-one entry to a host of top attractions.
Book through National Rail’s daysoutguide.co.uk and you can enjoy discounts on hundreds of attractions.
WEB DEALS AND SHOP SAVINGS: For premium attractions, check out our very own Sun offers or look for deals on websites such as Groupon and Wowcher.
If you have a Tesco Clubcard or collect Nectar points at Sainsbury’s, these can often be converted into tickets for zoos, theme parks and restaurants.
‘Tickets £2K less’
BUSINESS owner Kyle Frank, 26, from London, saved £2,000 on flights for a memorable trip to Bali.
He says: “I saw one-way tickets with stopovers were much cheaper than returns because most people want to fly direct.
“I booked a one-way flight to Bali with a two-day stopover in Qatar. I saw a promotion offering big discounts in a room at a local hotel so I spent two nights there.
“I spent a week in Bali but it was so close to Australia and flights so cheap, I thought it would be silly not to go. I saved money there by staying in hostels and cooking for myself.
“After that, I got a one-way flight back to the UK with a day stopover in Madrid. So I got to spend a day there too.
“Normally flights to those places would add up to well over £3,000 but I got away with paying just £965.
“I’ve travelled this way a number of times since.”