Unless you're down to your last dollar, the cheapest travel deal isn't necessarily going to be the best deal for you. It seems that every street corner, and every second website is flogging a travel deal these days. Whilst the abundance of options is wonderful, the job of trying to sort out the best deal from the mountain of offers can be overwhelming.
Firstly, you need to set the budget that you have to work with, and secondly, you need to settle on your "Where, What, When and How". No need for a "Why", I'm guessing you already know why you need a holiday.! Assuming you know how much money you have to spend, you then have to sort out Where you want to go. What you want to do there. When you want to go, and How you plan on getting there. Once you have your budget and the three W's and your H sorted out, you are ninety percent of the way there.
Here are a few suggestions that will help with the last ten percent of the way to the deal that suits you best. Always plan as far ahead as possible - the trend these days is to sell off airfares and packages in stages, with the cheapest going first, so it's "first in, best dressed". Planning well ahead usually means that you can be more flexible with your dates as well. Flexibility is a sure way to save big.
One or two days either side of your preferred dates could mean a huge difference in airfares. If you are planning a straightforward holiday then you may as well book your own travel directly with the airlines, cruise line or accommodation venue, and save the travel agents slice of the action. If on the other hand, you are planning a more complex itinerary then the time a travel agent can save you will be well worth the extra expense. You will usually minimize the agent costs by getting them to arrange all your requirements at once, rather than one task at a time.
Packaged holidays such as fly/drive or fly/cruise deals are worth taking a close look at, as they are often very good value. Provided they include what you had planned on including in your holiday anyway, then you may well get a bit of extra holiday for your dollar. The internet is the travelers' friend. It has never been easier to compare travel costs than it is today.
The internet is a great place to find "last minute" deals. Airlines and hotels are frequently offering last minute deals that represent a 50% or more saving. Be open to slight changes to you original plans. Small changes, like flying with a lesser know airline, traveling a slightly different route, or taking in an extra stopover can often be well worth the effort. Moving you holiday back or forward a week or two can mean you avoid the peak times. You may as well let someone else pay full price for the same holiday you are going to get a week later at 25% off.
The peace of mind you get from having adequate insurance for any unfortunate turn of events on your holiday, is well worth the expense. The costs involved in an uninsured overseas hospital stay, or an accident of some sort, can not only ruin the holiday, but has the potential to ruin your finances for life. Buy the Insurance. Depending on the extent of your travel plans, it may be worth looking into the incentive schemes offered by some of the airlines and accommodation chains.
Whilst the saving won't be anything significant for a single holiday, they can quickly add up if you are a frequent traveler. Remember, it's important to compare all your options since not all cheap travel deals will turn into the holiday you're looking for. It's much better to pay a bit extra and have a great holiday, than to wring every dollar you can out of the budget, and have a miserable time.
David Neehly writes extensively about Travel on his website, where you'll find more interesting articles. Don't forget to subscribe to his FREE newsletter, it's full of expert advice, freebies, and the latest updates from the world of Travel.