It's January. It's cold, you're back at work, Christmas cost more than it should've and to be honest you're not feeling too enthusiastic about it all.
Luckily, holiday companies love to put on a range of great sales and deals throughout January. So instead of sitting there feeling sorry for yourself, why not try to book yourself an affordable holiday?
This article is intended to guide you to sites, methods and sales that could help you find a good deal on your holiday. Although all individual deals were running and correct at time of writing (16.01.13), the busy nature of the January sales means that some of these holidays may have been 'snapped up' by the time you read this - even if there's no expiry date stated.
If you take a fancy to a certain holiday, but it's sold out or expired, try searching the site for holidays with the same criteria - as old deals are usually replaced with similar new ones.
Groupon and Livingsocial can be good places to get a holiday for cheaper - both in the UK and abroad. Keep an eye out for good deals daily.
Two night Wales mini-break for two - £79
If you don't fancy going that far afield (and you can buy before 21st January) we found an affordable trip to North Wales (Llandudno) on Groupon. Check the fine print to see when you can go.
A full Welsh breakfast is provided every day, plus you get cream tea and scones and a glass of Buck's Fizz each.
Two night Milan city break for two - £175 (flights not included)
If you fancy somewhere slightly more sophisticated than North Wales (only slightly, mind), Livingsocial has a great deal on a jaunt to Milan, Italy (if you buy before 22nd January). Certain dates are excluded, so check the small print.
Extras include a daily breakfast buffet, a bottle of Prosecco and late checkout - and internet is included.
Many holiday providers have substantial sales in January, offering some really attractive prices. Obviously this means that deals don't always last long.
All deals below are examples of what we've found in the sales - but they might not be available by the time you read this! Even so, you might be able to find similar deals - these are just a jumping-off point.
August break in Malta for two adults and two children - £207 per person
It can be so expensive to take the family away during the school summer holidays. One of the best deals we managed to find on onthebeach.co.uk was a 7 night trip to the Buggiba Hotel in Malta (self-catering). Flights were from London Gatwick on 22nd August.
5* all-inclusive 7-night getaway in Turkey - £226 per person
Nothing washes away all your worries like an all-inclusive holiday. On Thomas Cook's website we found a trip to the Rixos Sungate hotel, departing from Manchester Airport on 13th April (just when Turkey is starting to get nice and warm).
7-night California ski break for two - £749 (£374.50 per person including flights)
Some people would rather book a chilly, action-packed getaway than a warm, relaxing beach holiday.
Over at Virgin Holidays, these people might be able to find a trip to Harrah's Lake Tahoe ski resort in California, reduced in price by 34%. Flights depart from Heathrow on 12th March.
Check this page to see whether this deal is still available. If not, there may still be ski deals available that tickle your fancy.
8-night all-inclusive cruise for £579 per person
If you want to set sail towards a great holiday, Cruisedeals.co.uk is offering a cruise from Tenerife to Dover, stopping at Gran Canaria, Fuerteventura and Lisbon along the way. The price above includes flights from Manchester Airports, or you can buy flights separately and pay £479 per person for the cruise.
Cashback on your holiday
Type 'holiday' or the name of your holiday provider into the search box, and see whether there are any cashback or other offers available for your trip. You might be surprised at how much you can save!
For example, on Quidco we found cashback deals from Lastminute.com (up to 15%), Expedia (up to 12%), Thomas Cook (up to 5.5%), Haven, Easyjet holidays and Keycamp (4%) and James Villa Holidays (3%) - among many others.
Low rates like 3% might not sound like much, but if you're spending hundreds of pounds on a holiday it can really make a difference.
Bear in mind that cashback often takes some time to arrive in your account, so you might end up getting the money back after your holiday.
When you book a holiday, you might notice that there's an area you can enter a 'promotional code' or similar to get a discount. Finding out whether a discount code available is simple - just put '[holiday provider name] discount code' into a search engine and see what comes up.
We found the following voucher codes and deals for holidays:
- 10% off hotels at Ebookers.com with the code MVCH0113 until 20th January
- £20 off hotel bookings at A1travel.com with the code MVCEX20 plus an extra £10 off with the code Hotels13 until 31st January
- 9% off online bookings at hotelopia.com with the code hotelop9 until 31st January
- 4% off all Malta bookings over £400 at lowcostholidays.com using the code MALTA413 until 31st March
- £20 off online orders over £600 at lowcostholidays.com using the code JANHOL13 until 31st January
- £100 off holidays and city breaks at Jet2 holidays using the code SAVE100 until 31st January
There were other discounts available too, so make sure to check before you book.
Top secret hotels
The idea behind 'top secret hotels' on sites such as Lastminute.com is that you don't know which hotel you've chosen until you've paid - so you'll get cheaper rates. This can be really useful for people who have a hard time choosing a hotel - or if they don't really mind where they stay.
found the following great deals this way:
Three night Paris bank-holiday city break for two - £163.11 (flights not included)
One of Lastminute.com's secret hotels at the moment is 'situated near the greatest area of exhibitions in Paris' - and it'll only cost £163.11, even during the Easter bank holiday (29th March-1st April). How romantic.
Comparing the cost of flights
If there are no flights included in your perfect holiday deal, you can compare the cost of flights using tools like Skyscanner.