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An expert’s guide on how to save for a bucket list holiday

Evening Standard logo Evening Standard 17-03-2019 Laura Hampson

What’s on your bucket list?

While everyone’s ultimate destination will be different, last year Russia’s Moscow was the most-Googled travel destination by Brits (probably due to the World Cup 2018), followed by Kiev in the Ukraine (again, probably because of the Champions League final) and Spain’s Tenerife, Gran Canaria and Seville.

Your bucket list destination may be somewhere further afield, like visiting the Rainbow Mountains in Peru or swimming with jellyfish in Palau’s Jellyfish Lake – whatever it is, the only hurdle between you and getting there is time and money.

For millennials, saving for travel is often seen as a priority over saving to buy a house , for a wedding and saving for retirement – but the latter three are important to save for, which means we need to be smarter with our savings.

Jessica Exton, a behavioural scientist at ING, told the Standard: “Everything is always a compromise, it’s very connected. Everything you decide to spend money on will directly impact your savings and some of the time we need to make decisions about what is best for us to be spending the money on.

“Thinking about what we have and allocating it in the best way to maximise what we want. We need to think about what’s most important to us, given our short and long-term goals and deciding if the actions that we’re taking are aligning with these goals is a good thing to think about before jumping in and making that purchase.”

If you have decided you want to take the leap and go on that big trip, below we speak to Founder and CEO of Upgrade Pack Craig Unsworth and Jack’s Flight Club founder Jack Sheldon on the best way to save on flights, hotels and luxury holidays.

Related: 16 Cheap Destinations to Visit This Spring (Cheapism)

How can you save money on flights?

Sheldon recommends being flexible and booking flights at least two months in advance as ‘the dates you pick are one of the biggest factors when it comes to price’.

He continued: “Booking at the right time is the best way to save money. Airlines adjust fares based on what they think demand will be and it fluctuates throughout the year based on how quickly flights are selling out – Jack Flight’s Club takes all the work out of monitoring this for you and our flight hackers know when flights are at their lowest fares. We then let our members know when these fares go really cheap.”

Unsworth added: “Comparison websites are a default for millions and can be great value, especially if you’re flexible with your travel itinerary, to secure the lowest rates on standard fares. Seasonal discounts, online seat ‘auctions’ and transferring earned loyalty points or air miles are other established ways to save, or make the most of your money on many types of flights.”

Another way to find cheap flights is to set up an alert on travel comparison sites like Skyscanner and Kayak, who can notify you when prices drop for certain flights.

How about saving money when you book a hotel?

While hotel comparison sites can give you an idea of how much it will cost to book a hotel, more often than not booking directly on the hotel’s website will result in a cheaper fare.

Unsworth also recommends using loyalty points if you want to score an upgrade: “Miles and hotel loyalty points, if you have enough, can usually be turned in for upgrades. Of course, you can always take your chances and ask your hotel on arrival - although this is never guaranteed and may still be at a cost.”

Otherwise, Sheldon recommends looking at Airbnb: “Airbnb is ideal for saving money on accommodation. You can haggle with hosts if you're staying for longer and even on short stays you can often negotiate on price.”

Is it possible to have a luxe holiday on a budget?

Unsworth recommends booking early if you want a luxurious holiday on a budget, as that’s when the best prices will be available. While Sheldon says saving money on flight fares can help you budget to spend the extra money you’ve saved on a luxe holiday when you reach the destination.

Otherwise, check out new hotel openings in the area you’re looking to travel as these generally have opening sales, sometimes with up to 25 per cent off rooms and restaurant prices, an excellent way to nab yourself a bargain and experience a brand-new hotel as well.

Watch: 5 lessons from people who travel full time (Sports Media Group)

What to watch next

What are mistake fares and how can we use them to our advantage?

Sheldon explained: “A mistake fare is when an error is made somewhere within the complex systems that determine fare pricing for hundreds of airlines. They can include:

  • OTA Glitch fare – occurs when the price listed by an Online Travel Agency (OTA) vastly differs from the price being offered directly by an airline.
  • Currency Conversion error – occurs when the price of a fare in one currency is substantially lower than its price in other currencies.
  • Human Pricing error – self-explanatory, and is the most common type of error fare. Airline employees are human and do sometimes make errors when manually entering data.
  • Fare class error – these occur when an OTA or airline allows you to book a higher class fare at the price of a lower one.

“If you think you’ve found a mistake fare, the risks are very minimal when it comes to booking it. Based on our numbers, around 70 per cent of error fares are honoured by the airlines. The ones that won't will always be refunded back to you. One thing you should not do is book non-refundable accommodation though, give it a few weeks until you’re sure your fare has been honoured.”

What is the best way to handle your money when you travel?

Unsworth explained: “Ultimately it depends on how frequently you travel. If you’re only travelling once a year on a family holiday then new age cards like Monzo that help avoid overseas transaction charges are a great idea.

“For those that travel slightly more frequently have air miles and points that can be obtained from a travel-specific credit card and are often well worth the fees you might pay. Whether that means saving you money or just getting more for what you spend, we would always recommend keeping an eye on the benefits available and seeing what you can take advantage of.”

Sheldon recommends debit cards that you can link to your smartphone: “Revolut, We Swap, Curve or any of these modern pre-loaded smartphone app debit cards are the best because you can carry exactly as much as you want, block them if you lose them without having to call your bank and some don't charge foreign exchange fees. You should always keep a bit of cash in local currency for emergencies.”

You can find out more about Upgrade Pack here and Jack’s Flight Club here.

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