How to save £1,200 on the cost of your holiday

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However, you can significantly reduce this price by making the decision to travel during the Easter holidays instead. For the same bank holiday starting April 2 – the first Saturday after most schools close – the price is £2,652. That’s a saving of £2,039 on the peak summer rate.

Of course, weather-wise, Mallorca in April is not the same as Mallorca in July. You will find average daily highs of around 18C instead of 28C. But there’s still plenty of sunshine – seven hours a day – and the lower temperatures might actually be a relief if you have younger children. Active families, who don’t limit themselves to the beach, will also find that the milder temperatures are ideal for getting out and exploring the island on foot or by bike.

Point: If you want to travel during the summer school holidays, prices are usually lower towards the end of August than they are when the schools first close at the end of July. Saving £1,200 will be tough, but you might be able to cut the bill down a few hundred.

The how

The most important element of most vacations is the cost of accommodation. Clear that out and you’ll easily save your £1,200, probably even in a single week in the summer. And for that, there is no need to trade a hotel or a lodge for a tent in a field. You just have to exchange your own house. Several agencies offer websites allowing you to match with like-minded landlords in other countries. There’s always a fee – around £80 to £120 a year – for introductions. You’ll need to be flexible in matching dates and destinations – and that works best, of course, if you own a nice house in a desirable neighborhood.

Home swapping is not for everyone. You may not want to leave your home to strangers, and you may not want to stay in a private home (as opposed to a purpose-built vacation home). But if you find something that works, it’s a very good value option. Be sure to use a reputable agency and talk to your home insurer before you take the plunge.

Sites to try include Home Exchange (homeexchange.com), Homebase (homebase-hols.com), HomeLink (homelink.org.uk) and Intervac (gb.intervac-homeexchange.com).

Point: You can save even more by agreeing – insurance permitting – to trade in your car during the trade-in.


More subtle savings: 20 more ways to reduce your vacation expenses

Booking advised

1. Choose times and dates

When booking flights, be sure to think about times as well as dates. Those that go at less sociable times can be much cheaper and may be fine for you. Take easyJet fares from Gatwick to Malaga on Saturday July 23. Depart at 11.20am and you’ll pay £214 one way. Leave at 7.05pm and the fare is £129. For a family of four, that’s a saving of £340 on a single flight.

To safeguard: £100

2. Forget the pool

Private pools add hundreds of pounds to the cost of a villa. Book one within walking distance of the beach – the Greek islands and northern Spain are great places to find them – and while you might lack privacy, you’ll have the sea on your doorstep.

To safeguard: £100

3. Think laterally

Costs can be deceiving. For example, chalet rentals in the north of France are generally much cheaper than in Cornwall or Devon. And they are also cheaper than a mobile home in a French campsite. In peak season, one large enough for a family of four is likely to cost at least £1,200 for a week at a large Vendée site. A two-bedroom cottage in Normandy can cost as little as £500 – both prices including the cost of the ferry.

To safeguard: £100

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