As the holidays approach, destinations around the world are gearing up for the busiest time of the year, and prices on everything from flights to accommodation and food are getting ready to soar. It’s all well and good to advise that traveling during off season is the best way to score a cheaper vacation, though many travelers don’t actually have a choice, and especially for families with children, it’s impossible to avoid planning your travel over school holidays or during the Christmas and New Years break.
Though there are still a number of ways you can ensure a fabulous and affordable vacation even when traveling during peak season, and there are always ways to make your holiday dollars go further by thinking outside the box. Best accommodation for the holidays.
When it comes to travel, accommodation can easily make up the majority of your holiday costs, and your accommodation can make or break an entire holiday. It doesn’t matter if you’re planning on staying in a bungalow, a villa, a B&B or even a yurt; it’s important to make good decisions when it comes to planning your stay. To this end, use the following tips when booking holiday accommodation to guarantee a successful break.
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Choose Age Appropriate Accommodation
Before pulling out the credit card, and even before consulting reviews, it’s important to make sure that your shortlist is full of accommodation which is age appropriate, and is going to suit the break you’re after. The cheapest accommodation for instance may not be appropriate for your needs, and your requirements will vary largely on your preferences; for example, the age of your children if traveling with kids. Tips for cheap accommodation.
You might consider a B&B if traveling with an infant, as this can offer a more relaxed atmosphere than a hotel, especially if you can have breakfast served in your room. If your children are a bit older however it may be more manageable to look at booking an apartment or even a holiday house.
Having a kitchen is one of the biggest perks of booking an apartment or holiday home, and sometimes too you’ll find it’s possible to book a whole house for less than the price of a hotel room. Dining out can prove expensive and tiring for even those traveling without kids, so self catering options are always a real bonus when they occur. How to book cheap accommodation.
Resorts are often a great option for those traveling with teenagers, as there are kids clubs and plenty of activities to keep all ages entertained. Resorts generally come with the option for all inclusive packages too, so combining all of your costs into one package deal could save you money on activities and food.
When forming a shortlist for holiday accommodation consider things like if separate bedrooms are ideal, if the hotel will provide extra bedding, if they charge for WiFi, and any other inclusions which suit your holiday needs.
Think Outside the Box
There are many ways you can think outside the box when it comes to securing accommodation during the holidays. Maybe you’ve decided that a conventional hotel isn’t for you. Perhaps you don’t have the means to cover holiday accommodation for a large family group.
Think outside the box and you’ll be surprised by how many options exist where accommodation is either ridiculously dirt cheap or even free.
Hospitality exchanges are one of the best forms of free accommodation, and the most common are via platforms like Couchsurfing where you stay with someone who lives where you’ll be. They put you up in their home and give you a free place to sleep, act as local tour guide and this means that you’re meeting new people and making new friends.
Another brilliant way to organize accommodation for free is via a house-sitting gig or organizing a home exchange. Travelers who already own a home can sign onto platforms like Home Exchange and swap homes with a family from the other side of the world. It’s exactly the scenario from the movie “The Holiday” with Kate Winslet and Cameron Diaz.
Or you can sign onto a site like Trusted Housesitters and apply to stay in someone’s house and watch their pets/plants while they’re away. You get a free place to stay and they know their house is being cared for while they’re away.
Security is one of the primary concerns among those who haven’t experienced a hospitality exchange, though sites that facilitate these programs have stringent security checks and measures of verification. Also, those who participate in these exchanges are like-minded so there’s very rarely any reason to be concerned. Cheap accommodation over Christmas holidays
Failing a hospitality exchange, consider staying in a monastery for accommodation which is a little further off the beaten path – this kind of accommodation is usually pretty basic with just a bed and a desk, and bread and butter for breakfast, though cost wise will start from around $50 per person for private accommodation or around half that for a dorm. Monasteries are very family friendly, and a budget friendly alternative to staying in a hostel is rowdy travelers aren’t your scene. Cheap holiday accommodation
Or alternatively you could consider a farm stay or a volunteer vacation as a unique way to source accommodation overseas. The cost of a farm stay will vary, however many average around $40 per night, and allow you to stay on a working farm with the opportunity to get involved if you wish.
Compare and Combine
Once you have a shortlist of a few different accommodation options which suit your needs, compare the different properties, remembering that price is not the only measurement for choosing a great place to stay.
Make sure that you’ve compared the amenities, any extra costs (like WiFi and parking), and the quality of service offered. And make sure you actually read traveler reviews.
Pull up reviews on sites like TripAdvisor to make better comparisons, though make sure that you’re prioritizing the advice from travelers who have similar interests and needs to you. Give weight to reasons like why they enjoyed their stay, instead of quickly skimming over the webpage to see that there is a 95% 5 star review rate. If you’re an off the beaten path kind of traveler and someone else enjoys all inclusive resorts, they’re going to have a very different perception of the experience to you. So actually read people’s reviews to find out why they enjoyed the property, and see if those reasons apply to you.
Combine as much as you can in terms of holiday packages, as many places include accommodation and tours in one. Consider booking an all inclusive if you’re after all you can eat food. These packages are normally discounted so you save money, though there’s also the convenience of having covered two reservations with one booking.
Book in Advance
It’s overstated, but it really is some of the best advice. Even though prices over the holidays can be higher than other points in the year, you can still get a much better price by booking in advance than you can if you leave it to the last minute. How far in advance to book accommodation
Usually it’s best to make reservations around 30-60 days in advance during peak season if you’re looking to secure the cheapest possible rates.
Booking online will often save you money too – some accommodation providers offer 5-10% discounts for online bookings as this means their reception staff are not swamped with calls while tending to in-house guests. Though online bookings are also fantastic for both convenience and security – they give you an instant confirmation and you haven’t had to hand over your credit card details over the phone.
Check Your Cancellation Policy
Quite a number of hotels will offer advanced discount rates, where the cost of accommodation will be much cheaper if you book 45 days in advance. Though generally with these bookings there is a strict no cancellation clause, so make sure you know the cancellation policies before clicking “Book Now”.
Waiving your right to cancellation is a fantastic way to secure cheaper rates, though it means you forfeit the whole accommodation fee should you have to change your dates.
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