Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Tips for booking budget holiday accomodation.

Each year once Christmas is over, my thoughts turn to a summer break. There are several reasons for this:
  1. It cheers me up. Planning for summer during one of the gloomiest months of the year reaffirms that winter will come to an end soon.
  2. The best bargains get booked up quickly. Working in education this is doubly important as I can only book during school holidays when prices tend to be at their height.
  3. It gives me plenty of time to budget for the accomodation and travel costs.
  4.  It also gives me time to consider menu planning and to buy any bits and pieces we need gradually week by week.
Now I'm not looking here at booking anything flash or extravagant but we do like to get away for a week each summer, for us this time is important to recharge the batteries so to speak. We tend to only book one week, we do self catering, we don't go abroad.

My first tip is to set a budget and decide who the accommodation is for and when you need it.  This year I set the budget at £300. For this I needed holiday accommodation for 4 (middle daughter and granddaughter are once again coming with us), so a minimum of two bedrooms and somewhere child friendly with a fenced garden area. I need it  for one week during the school summer holidays (so basically either last week in July or in August). 

Secondly decide roughly the area that you want to go - fairly easy for us as we love Scotland, so that narrows it down a bit. This year we decided that we weren't too fussed about where in Scotland and so the choice was largely governed by availability. 

Armed with this basic information search google for "self catering" followed by the name of the area you want to go to.

We prefer our holidays to be somewhere quiet and peaceful so we tend to look for accommodation on farms or in the countryside, but decide what suits your family and look accordingly. For example if you want activities for the children you might consider caravan parks.

When there were only two of us we found this lovely one bedroomed cottage on a pier in the centre of Stromness, Orkney - only £230 for a week in August 2009 (I have checked and this year it's still a reasonable £265)

I did find a real gem on the Isle of Mull, our favourite Scottish isle. A two bedroomed modern caravan with amazing views and only 10 minutes walk from Tobermory. At only £275 for a week in August a real bargain, it went on the shortlist but with the addition of ferry costs around £100, I decided to look for something on the mainland. 

The caravan we booked on the Ardnamurchan peninsula.
 Two years ago I posted about a holiday caravan that we booked on the Ardnamurchan peninsula. So that was a possibility but we really wanted to go somewhere we hadn't been before. We have spent a couple of autumn weekends near Stranraer and have always said we would like to explore that area further, so I did a google search for there. 

After a bit of searching I think we turned up trumps with this delightful cottage.

Front of the cottage.

Once you find your ideal accommodation book immediately. Most require a deposit to secure the booking, usually around about £50. The balance is usually due between 4 & 6 weeks before the holiday commences. You will generally not be sent a reminder, so make sure you mark this date on your calendar and pay by then.

Now is generally a good time to consider transport to and from your holiday accommodation. If you need to book ferries make sure they are booked early as popular sailings can and do get fully booked.

Work out a budget - how many weeks till you need to pay the balance? How much will travel cost? It is easiest to put by a little each payday than have to pull out a lump sum all at once.

Likewise, especially if self catering consider adding one or two items a week to your food shopping so that you have a mini stockpile of things you need to take with you.

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