How to find great holiday deals (part 1)

To find deals you usually have to be a little flexible on dates or duration. Pricing often starts high when first published, but usually drop once the season begins, after which prices only go up. To find deals you need to understand the rules to find deals, book at the right time, and/or be flexible to find dates where prices are a little less.

Some advice: 1 week school holiday dates are almost impossible to find deals, look at perhaps 5 nights vs 7. 2 week school holidays and summer breaks are a little easier as there’s a greater ability to be flexible on what date you depart. Saturday/Sunday are often the most expensive days to travel, by using the tips below you can find options for your next adventure.

How travel is priced.

Without giving away all the rules, travel is priced based upon rules, these rules are often based upon departure point, duration, and whether it contains a specific day of the week.

For air travel you will be competing with a mix of business and leisure rates – there are some rules which differentiates you as a leisure customer rather than a business traveller. One of these rules is whether there is a Saturday night in your stay (this mostly applies to long haul)


Sunday 2nd Oct – Sat 8th Oct

Monday 3rd Oct – Sunday 9th Oct

You can see that including a Saturday night makes the fare substantially less.

So how do we find the best fare? we need to find the best date, and the best duration.

Fortunately there is a tool we can use. Google ITA Matrix.

Google ITA Matrix is the engine which powers google’s flight search, and it provides additional features.

Performing a search using ITA matrix.


In the above we’ve entered LON (as London all) and NYC (all of New York). I’ve entered BA in routing codes, as in this example I just want to look at BA flights. Select “See calendar of lowest fares” and select the start date, and duration.

ITA will return the cost for your search for every departure day in October. You’ll see departing on a Sunday has a much higher price than every day of the week. The cheapest date is 25th October.

If you are flexible you can also add flexibility – for example 6-8 nights. Now the 31st is the cheapest date, but only if you stay longer than 6 nights


Lets look at the flight prices for August 2022 – I’m using economy class as an example.

and now lets look at hotels (the below example is from

So flight + hotel = 623 + 1276 = £1899

Travel agents (and many airlines) offer a package combining both flight and hotel – online you can visit expedia or BA holidays or just call your travel agent.

Here’s an example of the above as a package.

BA flight + hotel result

You can see as a package is this substantially cheaper £1899 (if bought separately) vs £1356 – a £543 saving.

Pros/Cons of package rates vs booking flight and Hotel separately.

Separate bookings.

Flights usually are required to pay in advance, hotels may be payable on arrival or pay upfront also for the best rates. These bookings are usually non-refundable.

Package Holidays

If a package contains more than 1 travel component it is protected by the package travel regulations. Travel travel regulations protect you in the event of disruption. Your agent will usually be bonded or protected via trust also – this means if the travel agent ceases trading your holiday will still go ahead.

You can usually pay a deposit and will only need to pay the balance 6-8 weeks before departure. The deposit is non-refundable.

The package may charge you extra for changes, compared to booking individually so weight that up. Your cancelation terms will likely be higher too.

Your flight will usually come from a “package” allowance, and that might give you less tier points, less airmiles (you will still get some if the flight offers it). If you book via a hotel chain you usually will not get points as these are only available for buying direct.

So weigh up the pro’s and cons – for me to lock in a price and only pay a deposit is a big benefit, but I dont usually then cancel or change my mind. Package rates usually give you a significant benefit over non-packaged rates.

But one advantage is that you can usually book with a deposit vs paying the full amount.

Package rates are available as the airline, hotel or both offer rates which can be sold to travel agencies for packages, they have a limited number of rooms/seats for this rate.

For more tips see

How to find a deal when you’re flexible and when you don’t yet know where to go.