#best travel deals
Book a summer travel bargain: The best websites for. finding holiday deals
By Fred Mawer 16:06 30 Apr 2013, updated 16:07 30 Apr 2013
Type “best travel deals” into Google, and you’re offered over 1.3 billion results. Not exactly helpful. So what are the best shortcuts for finding discounted packages, hotel stays and days out?
Below, I’ve picked seven websites that are definitely worth turning to. Some, like lastminute.com and Teletext Holidays, promote thousands of cut-price offers. Others, like Groupon, advertise a much smaller selection of deals that have to be snapped up that day or week.
Either way, however enticing the deals, and discounts, might seem, do be sceptical about promised savings and shop around. Prices in the world of travel are not fixed in stone.
Grab a bargain: Being savvy could save you hundreds of pounds on a summer getaway
With 26 million subscribers worldwide, Travelzoo is a major player in the sphere of travel deals. Its best feature is its Top 20 deals section – the 20 best deals its researchers can find, carefully checked out for accuracy and availability, and emailled out each week to subscribers. These deals cover city breaks, resort packages, cruises and hotel stays, and each is written up in impressive detail, with the saving, the dates of travel and why Travelzoo thinks the deal is so good clearly spelt out. Also worth perusing, and registering for, are “Local Deals”: heavily discounted and persuasively described hotel breaks and activity and spa sessions in regional parts of the UK, for which you purchase redeemable vouchers.
The iconic, dot-com boom website is still very much alive and kicking. You can find deals on pretty much any travel-related booking (not just last-minute ones). The website is particularly good for discounted sun-and-sand packages and for hotel stays. Big savings can be had by booking one of its many Top Secret Hotels deals, for which you need to be willing to take the risk of not knowing the name of the property until you’ve paid, Also good for theatre deals.
Teletext shines. but more information on why deals are singled out as ‘staff favourites’ would be good
Another household name, and part of the same company as the Daily Mail, Teletext Holidays is a good bet if you want a massive choice of often bargain, mainstream packages. The website has good search options – you can bring up deals to a specific resort in, say, Majorca. More information on why certain holiday deals are singled out as staff favourites would be useful.
The best known of the so-called “daily deals” websites. It comes in two parts. There are deals on offer – usually just for a day or two – for meals, activities and spa and beauty treatments oriented to some 60 UK cities and regions. (Some of these deals can be excellent: I recently purchased steak and chips for four, plus a bottle of house wine, for just £29 at a good local restaurant.) Then there are the Groupon Getaways deals, offering a small but enticing selection of UK breaks, city and sun trips, and “experiences” – anything from a stay in the Lake District to a week in Sardinia and a Himalayan trek. Each deal is carefully described, and the promised saving
A word of caution: Summer bargains exist but it pays to remain sceptical, says Fred
This is one of the best “flash sale” travel websites. It covers stays at four- or five-star hotels in the UK and abroad, and upper-end packages with flights. The deals can be real bargains, with savings sometimes over 50 per off the best rates offered direct from the hotel or from online agents. (I’ve just done the calculations for last-minute stays at a couple of London hotels offered in the Secret Escapes’ Impulse section). The detail on each deal is impressive. How the advertised percentage discount is calculated is clearly spelt out; you’re encouraged to compare the offer against another provider (a link to their website is provided); and the hotel or holiday is written up in useful detail, with a summary of plus points in a “we like” box. Most deals are available to book for five to seven days. Though Secret Escapes sets itself out as members only, there’s no joining fee and subscription is very quick. A pity about the additional booking fee: up to £20 on transactions over £99.
This members-only, flash sale, luxury travel website is very like Secret Escapes. However, its deals are different (and often very enticing), so it’s well worth having a good look around, and registering for regular email alerts. Again, a pity about the additional booking fee – of £15 on the dummy bookings I made.
Bownty hunter: This website pulls in deals from several other travel sites
A useful daily deals “aggregator” – that is, it pulls together offers from various other daily deals websites such as Travelzoo, Groupon, Secret Escapes and LivingSocial. Filters let you focus just on travel-related deals (either domestic or abroad) and those relevant to a particular city. However, for the city-related deals, as well as selecting the city, confusingly you also need to tick the “local deals” box, otherwise nationwide deals are displayed.
And the winner is.
The flash sales websites have a lot to commend them. However, Travelzoo gets my vote for its Top 20 deals feature, which is excellent at separating the wheat from the chaff when it comes to deals.