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Best holiday booking websites
30th September, 2021 |
As Covid-19 restrictions start to lift, it’s time to dust off that suitcase, grab your bathing suit and start making some holiday plans! But how can you get a good deal on your next trip abroad?
Well, travel firms want to provide some incentives to get people travelling again. So, the good news is that there are still plenty of offers to be found, you’ve just got to make sure you’re looking in the right places. And thanks to your handy smartphone, you’ve got all the best deals at your fingertips!
To help you on your way, we’ve compiled a list of the best holiday booking websites to bookmark for those money-saving offers.
However, you could still find yourself returning from holiday out of pocket. If you were to damage, lose or have your mobile phone stolen while you’re abroad, it would cost a pretty penny to repair or replace it. Having comprehensive smart phone cover is, therefore, a crucial purchase prior to boarding that plane!
Gadget Cover’s mobile phone insurance policies come with worldwide cover, which means you will be protected when using your smartphone anywhere in the world, up to 180 days in any one year.
So, if your gadget was to come into any harm whilst you're away, your holiday wouldn’t be ruined knowing that Gadget Cover will repair or replace it on your return.
With that sensible bit out the way, let’s ignite some wanderlust!
Best for… staycations
Staycations have been the only viable way of holidaying for many of us during these difficult times. A survey conducted by Travelodge at the start of the summer suggested that more than four in five Brits were in the market for a UK-based holiday this year, as holidaymakers took a cautious approach to getting away.
Cornwall was found to be the UK’s favourite staycation destination, according to a survey from thetouristtrail.org. Devon, Dorset, Cumbria and Norfolk made up the rest of the top five.
Lastminute.com has something for everyone from city escapes to beach getaways. The ‘Our Top Deals to…’ changes daily allowing you to get the best price for an appealing place to ‘stay-cay’ this summer.
As well as offering good deals on popular locations like London and Edinburgh, the website also offers destinations with something a bit different with their Luxury Staycation Ideas section throwing up places to stay with hot tubs, beauty treatments and more!
Best for… luxury stays
If you’re not on a budget, or you just want to treat yourself after a tough year, you might have your heart set on lapping up a bit of luxury.
Secret Escapes offers 70% off luxury stays, all you have to do to access the deal is register for a free membership. They also offer trips with flights included – these are available for a limited time only so you do need to book quickly!
A key feature of the website is helping travellers identify whether a destination is on the green or amber list, and they have refund promises for those that need that peace of mind that they’re not going to end up with an unwelcome quarantine situation on their hands.
If you are not quite ready for international travel yet, they have plenty of staycations deals available, too. Make sure you scroll down the homepage, rather than just searching by destination, as you might just find a great deal on a location you’ve not considered before.
Best for… surprise getaways
Not sure where you want to go and want someone to choose for you? Well, Srprs.me is a website that can do just that. In three easy steps, you can customise your holiday preferences, number of passengers, budget (trips start from £145pp for three nights) and then srprs.me will take it from there!
Depending on how much control you want, you can pick from one of seven options which include the Bucket List – where they pick a destination from a list you give them – and Rocket Trip – which gives them complete control!
Straight after booking, you can download their app where you’ll find a personal timeline keeping you up to date on your journey. It won’t be until about two hours before your departure time that your destination is revealed via a countdown in the app. This kind of surprise sounds like a lot of fun to us, but isn’t for everyone.
Best for… all-inclusive packages
Icelolly.com allows you to compare the best deals on holidays from most of the top UK holiday providers including TUI, Jet2holidays, First Choice and On the Beach. They pride themselves on being ATOL-protected and budget friendly.
The website allows you to search for sun, ski, city and cruise holidays in both the UK and abroad. Their last-minute deals are updated daily so be sure to book straight away as there are some super-cheap offers to be found, starting from just £44pp.
Best for… road trips
Most of you would know Skyscanner.net as a flight search engine, allowing you to search for flights ‘Anywhere’ and in the ‘Cheapest Month’. However, they also have excellent inspiration for finding adventure on the road.
It is here that you can start to plan your journey. You start by selecting where you want to begin, how long you want to be on the road, and your departure date. From this, you’re given a suggested route on an interactive map, given the option to hire a car, plus hotels and activity recommendations for each day.
Best for… bargain breaks
Although Groupon may not be the first place you may look for a holiday, it has a lot to offer. They have limited-time deals to a range of destinations in the UK and abroad with over 50% off selected breaks.
Options to choose from include ‘Spa Breaks’, ‘City Breaks’ and ‘The Best of Getaways’; however, if it’s a bargain you’re after, head to the ‘Holidays under £99’ section where you can browse over 300 deals that won’t break the bank.
Best for… cheap flights
Jack’s Flight Club promises some of the “cheapest flights on the web”, and that you’ll never have to pay the full fare again if you stick your name down on their list of email subscribers. However, you can’t be slow off the mark with this one as these deals are few and far between.
The offers are often only available due to a glitch in the system somewhere, which throws up hidden offers and error fares, leading to flights at prices that sometimes sound too good to be true. But with plenty of solid testimonials on their site, claiming to have saved subscribers hundreds of pounds, don’t let your suspicions get in the way of picking up an amazing deal!
Best for… dog-friendly stays
Dogs are part of the family so why shouldn’t they come on holiday, too? Holidaycottages.co.uk understands that leaving your dog behind and booking a kennel can be stressful, so they have a whole range of properties perfect for your pooch.
With over 4,000 dog-friendly holiday cottages all over the UK, from the shores in the south up to the highlands in Scotland, you are spoilt for choice. Not only that, they have advice on where to go and what to do including dog-friendly beaches, activities and pubs in the area to help make your trip even more perfect. Even if you aren’t booking a cottage with them, this section is definitely worth a read to help you plan a day trip out with your pup.
Remember if your beloved handset gets damaged while you’re out exploring with your four-legged friend, your mobile phone insurance from Gadget Cover will kick in!
Best for… quirky stays
Coolstays is the place to go if you want to stay somewhere a little bit different. They offer lots of inspiration if you are unsure just how quirky you want to go.
Why not stay in a luxury cave in rural Worcestershire? Or an eco-hideout in a wild Scottish landscape? Or a floating lake cabin in Essex? It seems that you can stay anywhere, in anything!
Keep an eye on the ‘New!’ tab at the top of the homepage where you’ll find their newest additions – who knows, you might even be the first person to try out a new quirky location!
As there are so many amazing stays, their heart button in the top right of each stay is a handy tool – clicking this will add your best finds to a list for you to choose from at the end. With so many options, read the reviews to help you whittle down your must-visit list.
How to avoid holiday booking scams
For many people, booking a holiday online still brings an element of fear that they’re going to be scammed out of their hard-earned cash.
A staggering 5,000 UK holidaymakers fall victim to fraudsters every year. On average, victims lose up to £1,380 each after purchasing counterfeit airline tickets, accommodation or organised tours, according to research by the Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA).
“Fraudsters are using increasingly sophisticated methods to target destinations and times of year when demand is high and availability limited, as they know people will be looking for good deals,” says ABTA chief executive Mark Tanzer. “As victims often find out just before they travel or even in-resort that they have been defrauded, it can then be difficult and expensive to obtain a legitimate replacement booking.”
Therefore, it pays to be wise to the tricks used by fraudsters. Here are some tips for avoiding holiday booking scams as you search for a good deal this year:
- Know the signs of a fake website
The fraudsters are getting better and better at making their scams look like the real deal. However, there are still a few giveaways that a website isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, such as a domain name with ‘http://’ rather than the more secure ‘https://’. Fuzzy or low-resolution pictures and logos are also a major giveaway of a dodgy website.
- Be wary of redirections
If a website wants to take you to a separate payment platform or website during checkout, the alarm bells should be ringing. They might try to tempt you with the promises of a better deal or extra discounts elsewhere, when in fact all you’re doing is paying directly into their account.
- Read plenty of reviews
Reviews are still a pretty good indicator of authenticity. Although scammers have written reviews on their own behalf, independent websites like Trustpilot will usually tell the true story. Be aware of any websites which only have a handful of reviews.
- Stick to validated websites
If a company claims to be a member of a professional body such as ABTA or ATOL, confirm this by checking for yourself on the respective websites.
As Action Fraud notes, falling victim to holiday fraud not only brings a financial hit but can take a mental toll, too.
"There is a startling emotional impact of falling victim to holiday fraud bringing the feeling of embarrassment and disappointment to those we love, so we want to ensure that people feel better able to protect themselves," said Pauline Smith, head of Action Fraud.
Don’t take any risks!
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Policy benefits, features and discounts offered may very between insurance schemes or cover selected and are subject to underwriting criteria. Information contained within this article is accurate at the time of publishing but may be subject to change.