Winter is the time for fireside dreaming – and planning your next dream holiday, perhaps to somewhere much warmer and sunnier this time next year. Don’t just leave it to the last minute to see what villas are left in the busiest week of August, or what cheap flight deals may or may not turn up: planning well in advance might mean that your seemingly impossible trip of a lifetime is affordable and manageable after all.
Taking time out
The cost of flights and accommodation invariably rises in the school holidays, so if you don’t have children (or have shipped the kids off to boarding school!) then travel in term-time if you can. Choosing to fly at more anti-social hours and at unpopular times of the week usually brings a saving too, and hotels in city business districts will often offer substantial discounts at the weekend; likewise B&B’s in tourist-oriented places mid-week.
And how long can you get away for? Have you considered asking your boss for some unpaid leave? Taking some extra time off at a quiet time of the year may well be feasible, and just adding an extra unpaid week to your statutory allowance can make the difference between a nice holiday and a serious getaway, even if you can’t quite negotiate a full ‘grown-up gap year’.
Ad hoc adventures
If you’re not the type to stick in one place for too long, then plan your route. Look into ‘open-jaw’ plane tickets (flying into one place and out of another) and the connections between; mix up plane, train, coach or car-hire as necessary. If you don’t have enough time for a relaxed road trip, consider covering longer distances in the quickest way possible but hiring a car at a chosen destination for local exploration; alternatively, rent self-catering accommodation in a desirable spot with good transport links and then take off for long day trips or mini-breaks from that base.
Are you happy to go with the flow and leave some things to chance? If so, build in some slack to your schedule; you may get to a town and wish to move on again quickly, or love it so much you want to stay for weeks. Make sure you have the latest phone apps or guidebooks to aid searching for accommodation, however – you don’t want to end up in the worst motel in town, or paying over the odds to sleep somewhere too expensive because there were no other options that night.
There are many specialist travel agencies which can help you put together a bespoke holiday plan, using their intimate knowledge of a region – this may not work out any dearer than DIY booking, given industry insider access to discounts and the best deals.
Don’t blow your budget
Whether you’re driving coast-to-coast across the USA, backpacking through the Balkans or taking a gourmet tour through Tuscany, set your budget and start saving. Look into perhaps taking on extra freelance work or raising some extra cash; keep an eye on exchange rates, too, as it may be a good idea to buy some of your needed currency well in advance.
Make sure you have the correct visas and vaccinations, if necessary, and don’t forget that you’ll need holiday insurance. While there are ways to get away for less if you do your research, one thing you shouldn’t economise on is travel insurance. Medical bills abroad can be expensive, especially if you fall ill somewhere like the USA. Having appropriate cover can help make sure you receive the treatment you need. If you’re a regular traveller, buying an annual policy could perhaps be a good idea too.
Issued by Sainsbury’s Finance
Sainsbury’s Finance is a trading name of Sainsbury’s Bank plc. All information correct at time of publication, but may be subject to change. Any views or opinions expressed in this article are the responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of any part of the Sainsbury’s Group of companies.