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How to travel on a budget after COVID-19 lockdown

Suitcase with medical mask and boarding pass

One of the great things about getting a little older is that you have more time for travel. But after the COVID-19 pandemic, travel is a new minefield to get our heads around.

Travel often comes with looking for the best bargains. But will holidays be more expensive after the coronavirus pandemic? Here’s our tips on how to travel on a budget after COVID-19 lockdown.

Where can I travel to?

The FCDO have listed which countries are exempt from their travel advice against all but essential travel.

It’s vital that you avoid travelling to any country not listed on the FCDO’s exempt list, as it’s unsafe to go to at this time.

If you choose to travel against FCDO advice, your travel insurance will be made invalid and you won’t be covered.

Before you set off, make sure you check with the FCDO’s travel advice and local government advice that your destination is safe to visit.

Will travel be cheaper after COVID-19?

It’s been reported that travel companies have lost billions of pounds to the COVID-19 pandemic and are offering record low prices to make up for this. Package holiday prices for some destinations have been slashed by 40-60%. So, if you’re looking for a bargain trip, booking around this time could save you some cash.

Popular holiday destinations like Spain have become available for as little as £200 per person, when they usually cost at least £100 more.

While these deals may feel too good to miss, it’s important you check that the holiday deal you’ve eyed up is all it claims to be.

Avoid being disappointed

According to the Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA), fraudsters stole more than £7m from travellers in 2018. It’s important that you make sure the deal you’ve found is legitimate. This means doing your research…

Buying a package holiday can give you added protection from ATOL (Air Travel Organiser’s Licence), rather than booking your trip independently. ATOL can protect you if your holiday company goes bust and your trip can’t go ahead. With ATOL protection, you’ll be entitled to a refund if you haven’t yet travelled, as well as hotel costs and flights home if you’re stuck abroad.

If you buy ATOL protected travel, you’ll receive an ATOL Certificate from your travel company when you pay for your holiday.

It’s always worth checking your trip’s cancellation policy to see if you can change your travel dates just in case you can’t travel, otherwise you might lose your deposit money.

If a deal looks too good to be true, it usually is. Spotted a holiday to Greece, all inclusive, that’s priced a few hundred pounds cheaper than other sites? Check that the website is trusted as some scam sites can mimic the real deal. It may end up more cost effective in the long run for you to spend that bit extra on a holiday that you’ll remember for the right reasons.

Time of year

Visiting countries outside of the holiday season has always been a key way to save.

Visiting countries such as Spain and Portugal in the main holiday season from May to September is more expensive than visiting them in the early spring or autumn.

Avoiding peak season for travel could get you a great holiday deal to suit your bank balance.

Wherever you’re interested in visiting, compare in and out of season prices. It may even be more advantageous to go out of season, as it is often not as hot and there are fewer fellow tourists around.

Flights and travel

Flying in the week is usually cheaper than at weekends, and often cheaper still if you’re prepared to take early morning or late evening flights. This price difference is usually obvious in package holiday prices with different flight options to choose from. Different airlines charge cheaper prices too, so it’s worth doing your research if you’re putting together your itinerary yourself.

Be flexible

The usual advice is to either book your holiday very early or leave it to the last minute. This is a bit of an over-simplification. Yes, flights and rail travel are often less expensive when booked in advance, but if you’re prepared to be flexible you can save.

If you have a list of places you want to visit, perhaps consider two or three you’d be prepared to go to depending on the deal and holiday you can find. See what the best option is for the time you’d like to travel either online or through a high street travel agent.

Free and reduced admission prices

Bear in mind you may qualify for free or reduced admission to many sights if you’re an older traveler. Thinking of a trip to Italy to take in Rome, Venice and Florence? Then you can save significantly on entry costs to famous places such as the Colosseum, the Uffizi and the Doge’s Palace.

Some attractions are half-priced and others are free for older visitors. This applies in several other European countries, including Greece and Spain. With COVID-19, you may need to pre-book attractions beforehand.

Hidden costs

Don’t make a great saving on your holiday only to then waste money on ‘hidden’ costs. High airport parking fees can be more expensive than you think…

Check airport websites to see the different levels of parking they offer – sometimes there are offers and deals. For example, they might offer mid-stay parking for the same price as long-term parking.

Be careful if you take your mobile phone with you. Keep an eye on your data roaming as this could rack up without you realising, giving you a shock on your next phone bill, if it’s not included in your package. If you don’t need your phone or to access the internet while you’re on holiday, switch data roaming off.

Save and go

Remember, if you can reduce the cost of your holiday, you’ll get more value for money. Holidays are likely to be more expensive once tourism picks up again, so saving cash where possible can help you enjoy a well deserved break.

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