The Association of British Travel Agents predicted more than 13 million Britons would head abroad during July and August, motivated by the dismal early summer weather. However, the continued impact of the recession means those holidaying abroad have significantly changed their habits so they don't break their budgets. This trend for 'recessionary travel' has become the norm, and there are a number of ways that Brits can ensure they keep costs low in the run-up to their holiday.
When air travel first became accessible to general consumers in the 1950s and '60s it was very much a luxury enjoyed by few and was perceived as a glamorous and exciting opportunity. Programmes from this era currently enjoying popularity, such as Mad Men and Pan Am, remind us of the exclusivity and sophistication of flying during this time. Back then, overseas air travel was particularly reserved for the wealthy, and regular people had little opportunity to see the rest of the world. However, the situation has changed significantly over the past few decades - increases in social mobility and disposable income, a rise in the number of carriers, the introduction of 'no frills' airlines and a growth in the number of the airports in the UK mean flying internationally has become the norm. Indeed, according to the Civil Aviation Authority, leisure travellers increased 185% between 1990 and 2007 to 180 million.
Despite this vast growth, the recent economic crisis has meant that many Brits have had to rein in their overseas travel and ensure that each element of their trip is as cost effective as possible. Having enjoyed air travel for years, many Brits are reluctant to forgo their annual holiday, mini-break or trip to visit to friends overseas, and are instead adopting a number of 'recessionary travel' habits, a trend that is likely to linger as the recession continues to bite. There are a number of tips I recommend to tourists to make their money go as far as possible when preparing their holiday.
Firstly, timing is vital. Parents of school-age children have no choice but to travel during the most expensive times of the year. However, if you don't have these restrictions there are some great bargains that can be snapped up during June and September, with temperatures in Europe still high. Planning far ahead is also recommended. Flight prices are always lower if you book in advance. Also, pick your destination carefully. Many places go in and out of popularity, so it is worth spending time researching which areas are more expensive than others. And if you are choosing a fashionable, pricey area, saving money on the flight can help to balance out the cost.
The most significant financial outlays for a holiday are likely to be accommodation and flight costs - the latter being considerably more expensive for families. However, this is where savings can be made simply and easily, without having to compromise on your flight experience. Many consumers will know about flight comparison sites, but many are unaware that none of these single metasearch engines are able to check every individual source for flights, and that the accuracy of results vary from site to site on any given route. I advise Brits to use a meta-meta-search engine that trawls all these comparison sites and offers every possible option available, therefore making it easy to find cheap flights and identify the very best deal for your requirements. It's also worthwhile to find out what other additional costs the carrier will sneak on. The flight itself may seem affordable, but when you add on the price of putting luggage in the hold, a fee for booking a seat and payment for refreshments, it may be a false economy so do your research in advance.
When travelling to the airport, and on arrival, make sure you maximise your budget. Catching public transport to the airport may seem like a cheaper method, but for a family, it may be more cost-effective to drive, and booking parking in advance keeps costs down. It is also worth weighing up the cost of a taxi to and from the airport - or do you have a friendly neighbour who may be happy to help and just cover the cost of petrol?
Plan ahead for your needs on-board. Unfortunately, due to security restrictions, it is not possible to bring your own refreshments, but make sure you buy any water or snacks in the departure lounge, as carriers may put a significant mark up on these items during the flight.
Holidays are meant to be fun, and not stressful, and particularly if you only have one a year, you want to make sure you make the most of it. Whilst watching the pennies can take some of the fun out of it, it is futile to waste money on certain aspects such as the flight, when the cost can vary considerably for the same journey. The savings made by undertaking a meta-metasearch will ensure there is more money left over for ice-creams, an al fresco meal or that well-deserved drink.
Shahab Siddiqui is the founder of CheapFlightsFinder.com, the world's first website to compare up to 16 metasearch engines for cheap flights. Having been involved in the travel and technology sectors in the UK for over a decade, he launched the concept of meta-meta flight search in 2008. Whether it's multi-city flights or one-way short haul, CheapFlightsFinder.com offers a flight finder service that helps consumers find the best deal that is most convenient for them and with a provider they trust.