Are you one of the growing numbers of Irish holidaymakers who are jetting off to the sun? The summer holidays market alone is heading towards the one million mark and winter holidays are also taking off. In fact, many Irish families are now going on not two, but even three holidays a year. However, while we may have more money than we used to, we still have the same amount of holiday time and nobody can afford to have precious days off ruined due to poor planning.
Splashing out in the sun can also be expensive if you do not look into the best options. Changing currencies can prove pricey if you go to the wrong outlet or choose the wrong option. You've also got to choose a good travel insurance policy. There is a wide range of financial choices.
Package holidays offer tremendous value thanks to the bulk buying muscle of the big tour operators. The flight alone could cost that much if you were going it alone and you would probably pay more just to stay in a hotel for 2 weeks in Ireland. Add on the price of eating out in Ireland, it can cost up to twice as much here, a point that has not escaped the growing legions of holidaymakers who fly out every year in search of the sun.
However, money is not everything. Our annual holidays are the only chance we have to get away from it all, so do not get too hung up on price. Look at the detail behind the cut-price deal. Most package holidays are OK. Yet too often, holidaymakers do not check them out thoroughly. Ask about departure and arrival times and "luxury" features such as air conditioning, which are essential in some places in summer. You may be told you have to either fly out or fly back at an ungodly hour.
If you really want to rough it in search of the cheapest deal, you can go on standby, but it is not recommended for families and you could be stuck in an airport for a whole day, or worse if you get it wrong. However, it could prove very handy if you have embraced the spirit of adventure and chosen the right airport on the right day or have missed your flight and are stuck somewhere abroad.
Choose a busy UK airport with a lot of flights to where you want to go, but if possible be flexible about your destination. Manchester is excellent with dozens of flights leaving every day for the most popular holiday resorts Saturday is particularly fruitful. It's also handily placed for Ireland with a return trip by ferry costing around Eur 50.
Arrive in the airport as early as possible and go to the ticket desks of the main tour operators telling them you want to go on standby. You must pay there and then, it's usually Eur 65 - Eur 90 one way and wait until someone fails to show up. If your destination is one of the popular spots, Malaga, Alicante or Mallorca in Spain, for example, normally there are flights every 20 minutes and you will not have long to wait. It is even easier getting flights from Spain to the UK and often Dublin because it is much more common for badly hungover holidaymakers to miss their flight home!
If you are stuck for a last minute holiday package or simply fancy going somewhere a bit different, the Internet is a useful resource. There are several specialist websites, which sometimes offer very cheap deals to exotic locations that are outside the normal sphere of travel agents and package holidays. These include Travelocity.com (view this site through our External Links section), which offers a discounted booking system for hotels around the world. It will find the cheapest flights and e-mail you when a suitable one becomes available. It also provides maps, weather data and other useful information.
Another handy address is Cheapflights.co.uk (view this site through our External Links section), which provides links to agents selling tickets to anywhere in the world. But it generally offers flights only and not accommodation, which means that you could face a lot of hassle and extra expense compared to a normal package holiday. But if you want to get away from the Costas, it could be worth it.
A big disadvantage of using these UK-based sites, however, is that you must pay in sterling and travel through Britain. So a good idea would be to look at similar Irish sites such as, *Directski.com and Gohop.com (view these sites through our External Links section).
The information provided in this guide does not constitute tax, legal, investment or any other advice. Any figures quoted are correct as of publish date shown above and are subject to change.
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