50 ways to save on your holidays

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Cultivate friendships with people who live in places you would like to visit. There are many websites for international friendship. You could have a free place to stay, free touring information, practice a new language and maybe even have a new partner.B Wilkins

25. Book your airport parking in advance

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The mousesavers website maybe for American people but it is definitely worth a read if you want to do Disney for less.Lena

The return rail fare for a family of five from London Paddington to Heathrow airport is more than 130. Using the Underground and the little-known One Day Family Travel card will set you back around 20.Lesley, London area

41. The foreign school holiday trick

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28. Shop around for your European breakdown cover

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Any airline or travel agent worth its reputation has a service that allows you to hear about the deals first. Choose a few of your favourites and sign up. You could access big savings for a few minutes effort.

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Did you know that most credit card providers charge up to 2.75% commission every time you use the card abroad? A similar sting applies if you use your debit card abroad. One exception is Nationwide, which charges no such commission.

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32. Dont fly on Fridays or Saturdays

– despite paying 22 a month for 16 years.

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After years of outrageously high fares, the cross-Channel ferry operators have woken up to the fact that people arent prepared to pay up to 600 to cross a stretch of water so short you can see the other side from our shores – especially as you can fly to Spain for a few quid. As a result, fares have plunged and if you can travel at night, its even cheaper.

A change is good as a rest so why not move into the spare room or swap rooms with your kids for a week or two. Its free and can be great fun especially if you can agree to swap roles so the children do all the cooking.

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Fluctuations in the value of the pound can mean the difference between being able to afford a holiday in the US and not. At current rates, America is around 20% cheaper than a couple of years ago. Also, think about visiting countries with currencies aligned to the dollar such as those in Latin America and the Caribbean.

34. Control your holiday spending without doing a thing

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If youre flying no-frills, you can pay several pounds for an in-flight sandwich and drink or you can take your own. With some of these low-cost deals, the cost of your food can be more expensive than the cost of your flights. Theres a principle at stake here more than just a free lunch.

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As part of the Governments Every Lesson Counts campaign to cut down on truancy, major holiday companies have developed special deals such as free child places and money off for adults. Ask your school for details or contact the travel firms – but bear in mind that many of these offers may still be cheaper elsewhere.

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Here are This is Moneys 50 ways to save money on your holiday.

While the difference a day makes to a childs education is unquantifiable, it can add thousands of pounds to the price of a family holiday. But with this option of saving money virtually outlawed, how do you stick within the rules without breaking the bank?

Kids are happy anywhere on the beach in summer. Theres no need to fly to the Caribbean – they wont appreciate the palm trees. Same with expensive day outs – of course they like the zoo but at a young age they enjoy farms and pet shops.J Gourlay

The rise of the no-frills airlines has spawned a craze in ultra-low-cost holidays. You can buy a camping kit for a family of four including tent, mats and sleeping bags for sometimes less than 100. You book your flights to somewhere preferably with insignificant annual rainfall and then pay a few pounds a night to sleep under the stars. And remember: campsites abroad are often much better equipped than those in Britain.

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According to a This is Money survey, petrol will have to reach 10 a litre before we start leaving our cars at home in any great numbers. Until then public transport is always going to find it hard to compete. But coaches are pretty luxurious these days and at the time of writing, is offering intercity fares throughout the UK from 50p, with 1 fares available during the Christmas holidays.

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It may seem obvious but the holiday industry is like any other business affected by the basic economics of supply and demand. The best time to book, according to travel agent Trailfinders, is 11 months before youre due to travel. The flights have just been released and theres plenty of cheaper seats available.

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39. Check your passport at least a month before you go

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According to the AA, driving at 80mph on the motorways instead of 70mph costs an extra 4p a mile – or an extra litre of petrol every 20 miles. This may not sound much but it will add an extra 80 to a 2,000-mile tour of Europe. For lawbreakers driving at 90 or 100mph the costs are significantly higher and you run the risk of heavy fines.

If you are travelling to London and the South East by train there are some genuine offers for reduced entry to attractions such as Madame Tussauds and the aquarium on the 2for1 website.Peter, Whitley Bay

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If you cant travel in the small hours, taking your family by car to the Continent in the summer can cost a small fortune. So long as you tell the ferry company in advance, most will allow you to take your bikes for free. This is especially viable if youre visiting Holland or the Belgian coast, which are famously rather flat.

When taking a fly-drive holiday in Florida many of the package deals include a compact car. When collecting your car from the hire desk the staff may try to convince you to pay for an upgrade using techniques such as explaining how uncomfortable a family of five will be in a compact car, which is a little bigger than a Ford Escort. However, you may find you get the upgrade without parting with any money. Americans tend not to hire compacts so the hire companies dont have many in stock. Reject any requests for additional costs, take the keys and go to the car lot, where hopefully you will find a much larger car, which hasnt cost you a cent more.I Boyle

27. Find a low-cost insurance policy online

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For free guide books pop in to your local library. You can ask for an extended borrowing period if you are worried about not getting the books back on time, or renew them online.Pauline

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You dont have to slum it. If you plan ahead and save your money like people did in the olden days, you can have the holiday you want, where you want and when you want – even in the school holidays.

47. Young children dont need expensive holidays

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The rules of supply and demand also apply in last few days before the departure date. If there are unsold seats and hotel rooms, you can bag a bargain with a few clicks of the mouse, or a phone call or two.

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Travel agents and internet users can reserve flights and holidays for several days without purchasing them. So if at first you find a deal is unavailable at the price you want to pay, you have a choice: pay the higher price or wait a few days to see if the places become available again.

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The rules on passport photos are now so strict that if you use a photo booth it may take three or four attempts, around 14, before you get two pictures that obey all the rules on size, reflection, smile and head size. So forget the booths and go to a photographer who specialises in passport photos. You can refuse to pay if the pictures are no good.David.

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Since the railways were privatised, unearthing cheap train tickets can seem impossible. But its really quite simple. There are basically three types of ticket. The cheapo, available if you book 28 days or more in advance; the just-about-affordable if booked 14 days or more in advance; and the forget-it, which is what youll pay in the last week before you travel. Best is to check individual websites for details. Tip: For peak periods at Christmas and Easter the cheapo tickets go on sale about eight or nine weeks before the respective festive period and by cheapo we mean around 25 return to cross most of the country rising to three or four times the price if you leave it to the last minute.

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When travelling abroad, check out the timings of the school holidays in the country you are visiting. In France, the school summer holidays end before they do in the UK. If you can wait a few weeks longer than normal before going away you will find that rates in holiday accommodation drop dramatically since you are no longer in their peak period. You will need to book direct with the French operator and make sure you have the school uniform laid out ready for school the morning after you return.Frances Ives

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If youre travelling from central London to Gatwick airport or vice versa you have a choice or rail operators. The non-stop Gatwick Express, which charges around 24 one way for an adult, and the two-stop Southern service, which takes FIVE minutes longer but costs a mere 9. Note: For the Heathrow and Stansted Express services its less clear cut as the alternatives, though cheaper, can be overcrowded and therefore less reliable.

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Sounds obvious but take Greece – once a cheap option for a family holiday. Rampant inflation on the back of its entry to the euro and its new-found upmarket view of itself as Olympic host and European football champions, it has become relatively expensive. Italy on the other hand is still delightfully reasonable.

Getting to and from the airport can end up being a significant additional expenditure. In the UK minicabs are a sensible option but you must book in advance. If you dont, and you want a taxi, the only option are the official on-site ranks, which can cost a fortune.

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8. Check out the special anti-truancy deals

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There are hundreds more tips for families to cut the cost of their holidays. Send us yours and, if theyre appropriate well add them to the list. Theres a prize for the best one.

Again, not just for gap-year students. There are many European and country-specific rail schemes to enjoy. If youre really savvy you can travel on the overnight trains with your own cabin to avoid booking a hotel.

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13. Save up for the holiday you really want

You may think you live in a horrid, torrid suburban time warp – but to an American visitor your home could well the quaint historic corner of Britain that theyve been yearning for. Likewise, their small tumble-down hovel will probably feel like a mansion. Give it at try.

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In Venice, in general, the closer a restaurant is to St Marks Square the more touristy and expensive it is. Remember, wherever you go local people eat out too. Avoid the tourist traps and youll be better fed and richer.Mike

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Turn up on the day and youll very likely feel sick at the price youll have to pay just to park your car for a week or two. So do your research, check your insurance or AA membership for special tie-in offers, check hotels that offer one-night, pre-flight stays that include long-term parking, look for off-site parking offers, or, best of all, get someone to run you there and back.

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Your travel agent – online or High Street – will try to flog you insurance. Just say no. Go online or talk to a broker and youll find single-trip European policies for less than 10 per person. If youre going away more than once in the year, consider an annual policy. Just make sure you understand what you need and read the small print. Tip: single-trip policies cover you for cancellation as soon as you take out the policy even if your travel dates are months ahead. This is not the case for annual policies, which start from the day you take out the policy, not the date of your first trip.

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You dont have to pay a fortune or spend years trawling the globe for the hidden gems. Just log on one or more of the travel websites and read the views of previous guests. Remember: cheap doesnt have to mean nasty.

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One tip we like is to find accommodation recommended in guide books and on the travel websites – then email them directly to check for availability. Wait a few weeks and check again. If its still available youre in a strong position to haggle for a deal. Email is particularly useful for people who hate haggling face to face or by phone.

Its one of the things the internet does best. Compare flights, create your own holidays and book online – or use it for research then phone around the High Street chains and haggle.

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British public transport maybe unreliable, dirty, out-dated and expensive but its not the case everywhere. In Tenerife,says Lesley, the buses are cheap, punctual, air-conditioned and clean – theres no need to hire a car or queue for a taxi.

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A holiday home that sleeps 12 people isnt usually six times more expensive than one that sleeps two. So if you can bear to share with friends or family you could save a packet.

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Many newspapers have a travel club or offer travel discounts that involve collecting tokens. Some of them offer a fantastic opportunity to save money on your holiday. Others dont, so always read the small print.

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In Britain, theres Travelodge and Holiday Inn Express among others. In France there are tons of them dotted all over the country with rooms for three people from less than 20 a night. Theyre close enough to all the major tourist areas to make it a real viable option for the cost-conscious francophile.

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Useless advice if you want to get away for a week at half-term but during the summer or Easter if you can fly on weekdays you can save a lot of money. BA.com has a useful fare search tool that allows you to select the cheapest day to fly.

– despite paying 22 a month for 16 years

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If you leave this to the last minute and you have lost your passport, you wont be going away at all. If it has expired you will need to pay way over the odds for a rush application. Dont get caught out.David.

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Schools are clamping down on parents who take their children on holiday during term time. At many, to get permission for even one extra day off at either end of a holiday requires a degree of form filling and letter writing that wouldnt be out of place in a Soviet police station. Even then, the final decision rests on the whim of the chairman of governors.

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The internet has been a godsend for people who wish to bypass the travel agent and arrange their own trips. But heres a little-known tip: if you are booking a flight and a car, or flight and accommodation, by packaging the two deals together, an agent can often offer a much better deal than if you were to book separately, even online. Call it creative accounting if you will, but it can save hundreds of pounds on a long-haul trip.

Do you know how much it will cost you to make and receive mobile phone calls abroad? Check your contract – at up to 1.49 a minute you may want to leave the phone at home.Marie-Claude, London

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