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1. If you can, shop last minute
Some of the best deals on holidays are last-minute packages. In order to fill empty rooms, individual hotel websites offer last minute holiday deals. Sometimes you can ring up and haggle, too.
For example, Hilton’s Summer Sale is currently offering travellers up to 30% off on selected stays at more than 300 hotels across Europe, the Middle East and Africa.
Hotel loyalty programmes give great benefits too – for instance, Hilton HHonors™ members receive an extra 5% off and complimentary wifi at selected hotels when booking direct.
2. Pack wisely
Last-minute packing is the bane of holidays. Overpacking means you might get whacked with baggage charges at the airport, while not packing enough leaves you buying clothes, toiletries and yet another adaptor plug at the airport at much higher prices.
You should plan things in advance. Figure out how many days you’ll be away, what you’ll be doing on each day, and what kind of weather you can expect.
A pro-tip for packing is to roll items rather than folding them. It takes up less room in your case and stops your clothes getting wrinkled.
A good tip for those with hand-luggage only is to skip the toiletries – most good hotels provide free toiletries. If you can get a miniature toothpaste, then you’re all set (but don’t forget to put it in a clear plastic bag and make sure it’s 100ml or less). Hotel toiletries are great – you can use shower gel as bubble bath and conditioner as shaving cream.
3. Travel early or book an airport hotel
There’s nothing worse than rushing to get a plane. You should leave ample time (arrive two hours early for European flights and three hours early for international flights) so that you’re not rushing. You can always enjoy breakfast or a cocktail at the airport if you have time to kill.
It’s worth noting, however, that many trains stop running overnight, so if you’re not driving, you either need to book a coach (these take longer but are good for catching up on a snooze), take a car or get a taxi (these can be very expensive). If you’re stuck, you might have to get to the airport five, six, seven or even more hours before your flight – and that can take its toll on your body clock.
If you want to avoid midnight travelling for early morning flights, you can also grab a room at an airport hotel. Hilton offers a range of hotels at key holiday airports, including Hampton by Hilton London Gatwick Airport, Hampton by Hilton Exeter Airport and Hampton by Hilton Liverpool John Lennon Airport.
Airport hotels will often also provide special packages including your holiday parking in the cost of your stay. For example, the Hilton Garden Inn London Heathrow Airport offers a Park and Fly deal which offers customers an overnight stay at the hotel and either eight or 15 days’ parking.
4. Remember holiday money
There are two schools of thought on this. One is to change the money at a currency exchange and shop around for the best deals. If you club together with your mates, you’ll often get a better exchange rate for larger sums of money. It’s usually better to change money before you go, but some countries especially value sterling, so you might get a better exchange rate once you arrive. If in doubt, ask a local.
The second school of thought (and my own preference) is to tell your bank you’re going abroad and just draw the money out of a cash machine with a debit card. Many banks have either dropped or vastly lowered their overseas transaction fees. If you only get charged a couple of quid per transaction, then drawing out the equivalent of £100 at a time is going to be more cost effective than paying commission or getting uncompetitive rates at currency exchanges.
The best thing about paying by debit card is that you only need to draw out money when you need it, instead of taking too much and then more losing money when you convert it back again.
These handy hints were compiled with the help of Hilton Hotels.