Affordable Post-Christmas Holidays

Sure you’re jolly now, but soon enough, the lights will come down, the trees will go to the curb, and you’ll be facing endless weeks of winter in the UK. Can you say depressing? It would be such a great time to get away, but you’ve just spent a small fortune on Christmas gifts, and your inner accountant is saying no. And yet, this is the season to nab some of the best travel deals of the year. With a little planning, say our travel experts, you can have your holiday without breaking the bank.

Determine a Destination
"Between January 3 and February 19 you are likely to find some excellent pricing on a wide range of destinations from Spain to Turkey," says Rob Kenton, owner and Managing Director of Triangle Travel based in Mortimer, Berkshire. Of course, Southern Europe in the winter can be a little, well, chilly. "I would recommend heading further south to somewhere like the Canary Islands," Kenton adds. But that’s him. If you don’t mind a little nip in the air, there are huge bargains to be had in places like the Costas and the Algarve.

If you’re feeling a bit more adventurous, take a look at Morocco for a destination that’s a little out of the ordinary and good value for money. "Both the bustling city of Marrakesh and the beaches of Agadir offer resorts with money saving all-inclusive packages," says Denise Wiles, a 20-year veteran of the travel business and a senior travel consultant at Gates Travel in Kendal, Cumbria. "And many of the hotels in both areas are newer properties, so your accommodations will probably be a step up from those you might find in other locations in the same price range."

Wiles does caution that most holiday spots are going to be very quiet right after Christmas. If you want to go somewhere that’s still inexpensive and has all the activity you’re used to during the summer season, she suggests checking out Ayia Napa in Cyprus. "Cyprus isn’t like Turkey or Greece that shut down from October to May," she says. "It’s always a great destination for the younger crowd."

Star Savings
Even if you head to warmer climes, there are still ways to grab a bargain. According to Kenton, one of the first places you can cut costs is accommodation. Choosing a 2-star hotel instead of a 3-star will definitely lead to savings, but can also lead to crappy accommodations—which kinds of begs the question, what’s the point? A better idea is to take advantage of packages with added value offered by many quality hotels at this time of year. "Hotels don’t like to undermine their pricing structure," Kenton points out. "But you might find a property that was priced at £100 a night for bed and breakfast that is now offering full board for the same money, or a hotel where you’ll be able to stay for seven nights and pay for five."

Prepare for Hidden Airfare
When it comes to budget travel (really, any kind of travel), preparation is the key, so make certain you do your homework. According to Wiles, you can start saving money before you even get on the plane. "Most low-cost airlines now charge extra for checked baggage and in-flight meals," she explains. "Pack only the things you absolutely need and have something to eat before you leave."

That said, no travel expert recommends skimping on insurance, as even the best-laid schemes can go wrong. So if you don’t want to see all your savings evaporate when you’re faced with unexpected bills, take out adequate travel insurance to cover both trip interruption and medical emergencies. Now, your homework done and tickets purchased, you can relax: pack your trunks and the SPF 30, and let your inner accountant send you off with a smile and a pat on the back.