First, ask yourself whether an all-inclusive package is the best choice for your destination. If you’re going to the Caribbean – with its remote, luxury resorts – the cost of dining out will soon add up.
But if you’re holidaying in southern Europe, it can be savvier to take advantage of cheap local eateries. A Which? Travel investigation found that holidaymakers could save up to £700 per person by choosing all-inclusive for a week’s holiday in Barbados.
In comparison, a seven-night break in the Algarve was £300 per person cheaper if you organised everything yourself – this DIY package included the average price of flights and a hotel (three stars or higher), plus food and drink from local restaurants and bars.
It goes without saying that it’s best to avoid school and bank holidays if possible, while Tuesday is the cheapest day to fly out, according to our latest research.
September is your best bet for a cheaper summer holiday – the weather should still be good and you can escape the crowds.
If you’re restricted to peak times, book early, as demand always outstrips supply. Alternatively, if you can hold your nerve until the last minute, prices tend to drop within two to 12 weeks of travel, as agents rush to fill empty spaces.
All-inclusive takes the stress out of budgeting for your holiday, particularly when exchange rates are uncertain. But when you pay for everything up front, it’s essential you get the best price to begin with.
That’s where comparison sites come in. TravelSupermarket and Ice Lolly cover most big tour operators and will let you compare prices for your dates.
Meanwhile, sites such as Holiday Pirates, Travelzoo and Secret Escapes let you pounce on even better bargains – if you’re quick.
It may sound like a trick best suited to the souks of Morocco, but a bit of bargaining can go a long way.
Once you’ve found your dream trip, use comparison site prices as a benchmark. Then ring a few agents to see if they can beat the best quote. It helps if the flights are identical, as many companies will price match if you find the same break cheaper elsewhere.
When you’ve snagged the lowest offer, you may want to give the first broker the chance to match it and regain your custom. Even if they can’t go any lower, they may throw in a room upgrade or a free transfer.
Before you travel, check the details of your package to make sure you know what’s included, and budget for what isn’t. This will help you avoid any nasty surprises later on.
For instance, are transfers included or will you have to shell out for airport taxis? Is it extra for water sports or equipment hire?
Don’t forget about drinks. If you’re limited to local beer or wine, but prefer cocktails or expensive international brands, your bar bill is likely to rocket.
Your kitty will also dwindle if you snub the buffet in favour of the à la carte restaurant, or decide to eat out.
Sometimes there’s even an extra charge for bottled water.
In March 2018, we found a week’s all-inclusive holiday in Majorca in August. The price was £1,619 for two people with Travel Republic. But by following these three steps, we saved 45%, bringing the price of the holiday down to £886
Total saving £733