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Money saving tips for planning and booking a UK holiday or summer staycation



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With a taste of warmer weather and the school holidays edging ever closer, bookings for UK holidays continue to rise.

Debit card figures from Lloyds Bank customers show there’s recently been a jump in spending on holidays while cashback website TopCashback.co.uk recently reported a 60% increase in browsing for holidays on its website.

But as coronavirus cases also continue to circulate and uncertainty remains over future pandemic restrictions, while making plans for getaways is exciting there are perhaps few guarantees about exactly what could happen in the months ahead.

Are you hoping to get away this summer?
Are you hoping to get away this summer?

Even as restrictions are gradually lifted, it’s vital to understand what will happen to money you’ve paid if something doesn’t go to plan, while prices for some destinations could be more expensive this year than you expected after more than a year of lockdowns.

So if you are considering booking a UK break this year, here are some money-saving tips...

1. Don't dismiss a location swap

There are many reasons why travellers flock to the most popular destinations but if you're looking to keep costs down, researching some alternative options rather than defaulting to the more in-demand - and therefore more-expensive - locations, would be worth your efforts. The UK is full of glorious spots for a break away, don't be too quick to dismiss choosing somewhere less well-known.

If you are set on your favourite city or seaside spot however, finding accommodation further from the centre could lead to a lower price and better value for you. And remember - you don't need to necessarily travel far away from home to guarantee a nice break. A change of scene closer to where you live could be just as beneficial and you'd save on travelling and petrols costs too.

Paying by credit card can give you an added layer of protection
Paying by credit card can give you an added layer of protection

2. Pay with a credit card

Buying your holiday using a credit card, even if you've got cash at the ready, often gives you the benefit of protection under section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act says comparison website Go Compare.

If anything were to go wrong, such as a cancellation or your tour operator going bust, your credit card provider will be as liable as the retailer for refunding you. You’ll qualify for this protection if what you’re buying costs between £100 and £30,000. Protection also applies even if you've only made a part-payment on the credit card, such as the depost. It won't apply, however, if you pay by debit card.

When you travel can sometimes alter the price significantly
When you travel can sometimes alter the price significantly

3. Are there cheap days to travel?

Research shows the cheapest days to book online can be between Thursday and Sunday and accommodation check-in and check-out is best on Sundays through to weekdays.

If you don't have children, aren't tied to school holidays or have an element of flexibility, starting and finishing your holiday on unusual days may in turn save you a pound or two!

Taking out insurance and investigating cancellation policies are both worthwhile before confirming a booking
Taking out insurance and investigating cancellation policies are both worthwhile before confirming a booking

4. Ensure you insure

Even if you are looking to stay on UK soil, with so much uncertainty still surrounding the lifting of restrictions, it doesn’t mean your plans could be exempt from being cancelled or affected in some way.

TopCashback’s Elle McAtamney said it remains important for people to investigate holiday insurance options, checking what policies will or will not cover, as well as going over the small print of cancellation policies. Many policies, she says, have added coronavirus exclusions since last year and it would pay to be familiar with them.

Also establishing whether your holiday provider has a flexible policy and will offer full cash refunds, or the ability to re-book for a later date without incurring extra fees, is important.

Be sure to shop around, even in school holidays, on the lookout for the best deals available
Be sure to shop around, even in school holidays, on the lookout for the best deals available

5. Shop around

Finding the best deal may require patience. Using comparison websites can be beneficial in trying to find the best rates but it's also worth making inquiries direct with your choice of accommodation to see if they are cheaper by phone or through their own site or alternatively are throwing in any added extras, such as the inclusion of breakfast or a parking pass, if you book direct.

Be aware also of flexible rates as comparison websites won't reimburse non-refundable rooms. Keep an eye out for special offers too - for example Premier Inn has been offering £29 rooms even during this year's school summer holiday.

Watch out for hidden extras, such as the cost of car parking, when budgeting for your trip
Watch out for hidden extras, such as the cost of car parking, when budgeting for your trip

6. Watch out for hidden extras

Holiday costs can quickly mount up so it's advisable to explore every avenue of your holiday before committing.

Additions like off-site car parking or the cost of breakfast on top of a hotel's room rate can unexpectedly push up the cost of a break - and quickly see you bust your budget - if you're staying for a few days or have the whole family in tow. Be sure to know the exact cost of everything to be sure you can afford it.

Booking activities in advance can help you plan your time away and save money
Booking activities in advance can help you plan your time away and save money

7. Plan activities in advance

If some Covid restrictions remain in place there could still be limits on visitor numbers at attractions this summer, making it advisable to book in advance to avoid any disappointment.

Planning what you'd like to do ahead of time may also help you make some decent savings too.

For example - if you're thinking of doing more than one UK break this year, or are planning a series of days out - purchasing something like a National Trust or English Heritage membership for the year could be more economical in the long run as they give unlimited access to their sites across the country. Booking through websites such as TopCashback could also mean you may get some money back on bookings.

With restrictions still in place, and some uncertainty over getaways, ensure your money is protected, say financial experts
With restrictions still in place, and some uncertainty over getaways, ensure your money is protected, say financial experts

8. Watch out for scams

Action Fraud is warning people making holiday bookings this year to watch out for scams and to think twice before handing over money or personal information.

Holiday fraud can vary from fake accommodation listings advertising hotels and self-catering properties that don’t exist, to ‘too good to be true’ offers, particularly involving flights. Households should be aware that criminals can approach their victims over the phone, via text, email and social media, offering temptingly cheap deals to encourage people into booking with them.



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