Secrets to saving money when booking your holiday

When you completed our survey last month, 70% of you said that you would visit Europe more often if it were less expensive. Keen to help, we asked people in the know for their top tips to get the cost of your holiday down. Their view: the secret is to get prepared before you travel.
  1. All-inclusive can be cheaper than self-catering. All-inclusive deals are getting more popular, and tour operators are offering them in an increasing number of places. They are especially good if you or the children often want drinks, ice creams or snacks.
  2. Book transfers to your resort in advance. If you can book transfers to and from the resort with your flight, or through a cheap online deal, you can save a considerable amount of cash.
  3. Book car hire somewhere other than the airport. Airport prices for car hire can often be high. To save money on car hire, either book online before you leave the UK or ask your hotel to recommend a good value car hire company once you are in the resort.
  4. Make a list of what you’ll need to take. This sounds simple, but if you make a list of essential items and buy them in the UK you will avoid having to use local shops which can often charge a high price on items you can’t do without. Don’t forget travel plug adaptors, shaving equipment, sun cream and after-sun lotion.
  5. Book excursions before you leave. You can get coupons, money-off vouchers and good deals online for trips that you want to take while you are abroad. Your tour operator may not always be the cheapest for these trips, but make sure the web site you book with is reputable.
  6. Exchange cash before you leave. You’ll often get a better exchange rate in the UK than overseas, and by taking enough cash you can avoid paying costly fees to use your credit card or debit card. If you have money left over you can either exchange it when you return or, since you’ll most likely be using Euros which you will use again at some point, keep the cash until your next holiday and save on exchange fees for converting it back again.

Ibiza: Not just for the party people!

Ibiza: the party capital of the world, surely no place for a couple seeking a relaxing and peaceful break? Well, in actual fact you would be mistaken! If you have been disregarding Ibiza as a holiday destination for fear of your summer getaway being gatecrashed by rowdy party-goers and drunken teens it’s time to take a fresh look. Sure, if you head for San Antonio during the notorious clubbing season (mid May to late September) you will almost certainly be outnumbered by youngsters ‘painting the town red’, but being the third largest Balearic island, Ibiza has plenty of space for everyone.

San Antonio is on the west of the island, so avoid the west coast if you want a nice relaxing time. Two quieter resorts that you will enjoy are Santa Eulalia on the east coast and Portinatx up on the northern coast. Both resorts are blessed with beautiful beaches of white sand and crystal clear waters, and are perfect for couples or families seeking a more peaceful holiday on the island.

Santa Eulalia is famous for its palm-lined promenade that stretches the length of its beautiful sandy beach, and for its yacht marina which is perfect for people-watching! Whether you fancy some retail therapy, browsing an art gallery or dining out at some of the island’s most popular restaurants, you will find it all here.

Portinatx is perhaps the most peaceful resort in Ibiza and is recognized as one of the island’s best known beauty spots, having arguably the best beaches (it has three to choose from). Although there are not as many restaurants here as there are at many of the other resorts on the island, there is still plenty to make it a firm favourite for many couples wanting a relaxing holiday.

Nestling to the east of mid-Spain, and parallel with southern Italy, you can expect the weather to be warm but not too hot, with little chance of rain. Slightly warmer and sunnier than Barcelona, daily average temperatures are 22C – 25C (71F – 77F) in June and July, with highs of 26C – 29C (79F – 84F).

So ignore any preconceived notions and enjoy a beautiful and peaceful holiday in Ibiza.1

Barcelona: A city with something for everyone, including a beach!

With the F1 Grand Prix in Barcelona having just finished we thought we’d take a closer look at this great Spanish destination, since we’ve heard so many people recently telling us how nice it is. If you like a mixture of culture, sight-seeing and relaxing on the beach, this could be the perfect holiday for you!

Barcelona is a city on the coast of north east Spain, just to the south of France. As you’d expect from its location, in June and July it’s likely to be pleasantly warm and sunny with little chance of rain: average temperatures of 20C – 23C (38F – 73F) with average highs of 24C – 27C (75F – 81F).

The Barri Gòtic (“Gothic Quarter”) is the centre of the old city, and many of the buildings date from medieval times, some from as far back as Roman times.
There are several World Heritage Sites in Barcelona including Park Güell, a garden complex designed by Antoni Gaudí with many spectacular architectural features; the breath-taking Sagrada Família church; and the Palau de la Música Catalana concert hall.

There are many museums that between them cover a wide range of subjects including art, archaeology, maritime history, Egyptology, and there is also Cosmocaixa, a science museum that received the European Museum of the Year Award in 2006.

To relax, you can visit one of the 68 parks in Barcelona, which includes 12 historic parks and 5 botanical parks.

Since Barcelona is on the coast you can also visit the beach! Barcelona was rated number one in a list of the top ten beach cities in the world compiled by Discovery Channel and National Geographic. Barceloneta Beach, given a new lease of life in the huge waterfront makeover for the 1992 Olympics, is among the most popular.

So no matter what you’re into, Barcelona should definitely be on your holiday shortlist this year.