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Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Get some summer sun on a budget

Advertising feature. It’s that time of the year again. It’s time to pack up your smallest clothing, your sun tan lotion and your straw hats, and jet off to somewhere hot. After all the excitement of the last few weeks, and with the weather not looking as if it’s going to brighten up any time soon, the urge to treat yourself to a week or two of sunshine, relaxation, swimming in warm seas, exploring new places and sampling new cuisine will never be less than now. But with the economy still reeling from the effects of the recession, can any of us really justify spending a chunk of cash on a holiday?

Holidays are definitely a treat. But we all work hard, and with hard work comes the need for rest and rejuvenation. Your holiday is about taking the time to unwind and recharge, and is the perfect chance to spend some much-needed quality time with your family. Travel broadens the mind but it also soothes the soul. So is it possible to loosen the purse strings without blowing the budget?

Happily, the answer is yes, if you know where to look. Many of those looking for cheap holidays will spend hours trawling the internet, comparing every single minutiae of their break and shaving off every single penny to get the cheapest total price. This time-intensive method can be a great way of making savings but does eat up into time you could spend trawling clothes shops for that new bikini. Thankfully there are lots of websites out there that will do the hard work for you. Don’t rule out package holidays. The recent slump in international travel over the past couple of years has meant that prices are dropping across the board and many European countries are desperate to encourage foreign visitors, so there are loads of fantastic deals to be had.

Although the pound has improved against the euro this summer, it’s still not where it was 10 years ago, which can make some European destinations more expensive than they used to be. So why not look further afield? Holidays to Egypt can offer exceptional value for money. Sterling is still strong against the Egyptian Pound so your spending money will go far when you’re out there – great for families planning lots of sightseeing and activities. Plus, the larger resorts such as Sharm el-Sheikh and Hurghada have lots of hotels offering fantastic deals on all inclusive holidays, a great option for families looking for a budget-friendly bargain break. Many of these hotels also offer on-site activities such as watersports and kids clubs free of charge, all of which add up to significant savings and provide hours of entertainment for your little ones.

Diving is a massive draw for many people visiting the Red Sea region of Egypt. Diving holidays can be expensive, so look for special offers and last minute deals. See if your hotel has any special rates in place with local diving firms, and it’s also worth contacting a few directly. Companies want to make sure that every boat they send out is at maximum capacity, so be flexible and try and get onto a trip that’s not yet full as you may be able to negotiate a discount. Many tours offer BOGOF type deals, such as the second person goes half price, so shop around and don’t be afraid to haggle. Remember to check that all the equipment is included in the price you’re quoted, as you may find out too late that wetsuits, breathing apparatus, masks and flippers cost extra and you can end up paying a lot more for your diving trip than you’d planned.

Ever since the pound dropped drastically against the euro a few years back, people discounted the Eurozone for their main holiday. However, the recent economic crisis that has hit many of the mainland EU countries has meant that the price of holidays have dropped substantially and the countries that you were once put off of visiting are now exceptional value for money and crying out for tourism.

Take Greece for example. Whilst the world watched with bated breath to see if Greece would be forced to leave the Euro, hotels in Greece sat empty. People were scared of being stranded halfway through their holiday, with a pocketful of useless currency and no way of getting home. Months went by and still the uncertainty remained. Bookings for summer 2012 were at an all-time low. Now the pressure has lifted somewhat and it appears the euro is here to stay, so travel companies are doing everything they can to make sure the holidaymakers return. This means there are some amazing last minute deals to be had. Greece has such variety to offer: beaches, mountains, volcanoes, lush greenery, food, music and wine. With such a wide range of holidays on offer, there is something to suit all tastes and budgets. The islands have always been extremely family friendly, with children welcome everywhere and very safe places to stay. Head for the smaller, quieter resorts on the islands if you want to avoid the party crowds. You’ll find long stretches of quiet beaches, peaceful fishing villages and a warm welcome around every corner.

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