Vacation, I forget everything! My energy bills, the cost of fuel, the cost of my groceries, etc. Good spirit, but you still need to be able to afford it, because these days paying for a trip can be more and more complicated, but not impossible.
“The last minute no longer exists, or at least it is no longer synonymous with good business.”
The refrain is of course familiar: those who do not want to pay full price should definitely avoid the high season. Except that in practice it is not always possible. Besides, “last minute no longer exists or at least is no longer synonymous with bargains (see point 2)”, warns Frank Bosteels, spokesman for the tour operator Connections.
But don’t worry, here are some tips and great plans to take the time to recharge your batteries elsewhere, on a budget equal to or less than previous years.
If you want to be almost sure to have the best prices available (regardless of your destination, mode of transport and type of accommodation), there is no secret: you must do it up to a year in advance. “The pandemic has undermined the habit of booking early, but this rule remains in place,” insists Frank Bosteels. “In addition to reasonable prices, you will benefit from the widest selection“, adds Florence Bruyère, spokesperson for Tui.
Finally, if you go through a tour operator (TO), the earlier you book, the more likely they are to offer you maximum benefits that have a specific price, such as a lift ticket or significant reductions in the transport price.
“Let’s take the example of our holiday offer for next winter”, explains Florence Bruyère. “In April, we launched this offer with great benefits, especially for flights, including a discount that can go up to 450 euros per person.e. Until the end of June, we also offered the Fuel Protection Program (FPP).“
A detail that is very important in connection with the journeys that this TO offers. In fact, FPP is an insurance that fixes the price of fuel. Tourists departing in June with Tui who had not taken out an FPP were subject to a historic surcharge of at least €72/person for flights to Spain or Italy. For more remote destinations (Caribbean), the bill went up to 320 euros/person…
In another genre, if you want to invite yourself – e.g – a short holiday to Paris One of those days, the best time to buy a Thalys ticket is at the time of the sales opening, i.e. battery 4 months before departure. In this case, tickets cost 29 eurosit is 116 euros round trip for two people.
In low seasonprovided you are flexible with regards to travel date and destination, there will always be opportunities to be seized. “To take advantage of it, it may be wise to subscribe to as many newsletters as possible“, recommends Frank Bosteels. An opinion shared by Florence Bruyère de Tui.
“This is preferred communication channel tour operators to fill their unsold“, he explains. “And there it’s a matter of not hesitating and taking the chance when it presents itself, because other travelers are looking.
“More and more often there are special offers to travel in business class at a discounted price.”
Airlines are also fond of so-called “flash” promotions that temporarily offer discounted prices on many destinations. “We thus see more and more special offers, for example traveling in business class at a discounted price. These are really good deals that are really worth it.”
But how can you distinguish the real purchase from the fake offers? “For this it is important to regularly check flight and travel prices or seek advice from a professional travel agency who is familiar with market prices”, answers Frank Bosteels.
3/ Opposite season
The price of a trip is dictated by demand. Logically, prices are higher when demand is higher. But be careful, this increase does not only occur during the school holidays.
“For example, everyone wants to travel to Japan when the cherry blossoms are in bloom, and similarly, autumn is the busiest season for travel to South Africa,” says Frank Bosteels.
“By choosing the opposite seasonspring for South Africa or autumn for Japan, we find identical climatic conditions but much more favorable prices.”
4/ Destinations avoided
Another rule, inspired by the stock market, is to favors unpopular resorts. Destinations temporarily avoided by tourists are often forced to lower prices, unless they are simply very far from the prices inflated by tourism.
“Sometimes you have to know how to be opportunistic and prefer unpopular resorts.”
“Go where no one wants to go, or when no one is going, and you’ll get great prices,” suggests the Connections expert.
“It may therefore be destinations that are still unknown, such as a certain number of countries in Eastern Europe, for example Albaniabut also destinations that are established but have recently suffered negative publicity following an attack or due to political instability. Sometimes you have to know how to be opportunistic.“
5/ Alternative accommodation
To lower the price of a trip without completely depriving yourself, suggests Frank Bosteels combine a number of nights in cheaper accommodation with a few nights in a luxury hotel, including at the same destination. “This allows you to have fun while maintaining the overall budget of the trip.”
Another idea: register on the HomeExchange platform, the world leader in the exchange of homes between individualswhich offers over 450,000 homes and apartments in 159 countries.
To participate, simply pay one annual fee of 149 euros (the second year is offered to you if you have not found an exchange in the first year, editor’s note).
This price especially includes an unlimited number of exchanges with the other members of the platform, support in case of cancellation or non-compliance, protection in case of property damage.
There are two types of possible exchanges. Primarily, the traditional exchange: two people change their domicile on the same dates (simultaneous exchange) or on different dates.
However, it may happen that a member of the platform is not necessarily interested in Belgium or that he does not have the same holiday dates. In this case, you can redeem using GuestPoints (GP).
By default, each home is assigned a GP value based on its specifications. Let’s say yours gets a value of 150 GP and someone comes to stay with you for 4 nights. In this case, you will have a credit of 600 GP to spend elsewhere (for example, for 6 nights of accommodation at 100 GP/night). In short, regardless of the type of exchange, there is never any financial transaction between HomeExchange members.
HomeExchange: the user guide
Romuald G. de Zaventem, member for 10 years, has already used it fifteen times. “It allowed us to travel to places we never thought we could go one day, like Florida, Canada or Ireland. But thanks to the exchange, the vacation budget is completely different.”
“HomeExchange has allowed us to travel to places we never thought we would be able to go, such as Florida, Canada or Ireland.”
For those who would find it difficult to take the step, Romuald states that he has no never had any bad surprises upon his return home. “On the contrary, we have already found the house even cleaner than usual.“
And if you find it difficult to imagine that someone else could come and sleep with you, Romuald recommends that you straighten things out. “When you go to a hotel, you sleep in a bed where thousands of people have passed…and that’s not a problem.”
In addition to this formula making it possible tosave almost 30 to 40% of the holiday budget, it has other strengths. “This allows you to travel differently, to discover places not included in the guides when you receive personal recommendations. Sometimes friendships are made, and finally, when traveling with children, having a main residence allows you to have much more comfort on the spot,” he concludes.