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Best ways to book your next get-away and the best time to fly

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Best ways to book your next get-away and the best time to fly

Written by
Sarah O'Neill
July 2017

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Top tips for booking the best flights, trains and car rental deals; saving you time and money.

Booking your next get-away?

Here at the Corissia Hotels & Resort, we know that returning visitors to our beautiful Greek island of Crete prefer to book their hotel and flights separately. Putting together your own holiday gives you more freedom and flexibility - not to mention the opportunity to snap up some real bargains.

Whilst some people relish the planning process, others cower at the thought of hours spent in front of the computer screen, trawling through flight comparison sites. Never fear - we've collected our top tips for booking the best flights, trains and car rental deals, saving you time and money on your journey from home to your hotel door.

Bus - Rail - Fly

The most leisurely option for catching your flight is having a friend or family member drop you off at the airport - but as we don't all have the luxury of a personal chauffeur, we've compared some of the best alternatives for getting you to the terminal:

Leaving your car at the airport can be costly - some London airports charge over £20 for parking per day. However, many main airports are directly connected by a rail link, some even offering an express rail service from the city centre.

If you're flying out of a London airport, consider National Rail as a more cost-effective alternative - it often only takes a few minutes longer than the express option. Heathrow Express, for example, costs over £30 and is only 11 minutes faster than the National Rail Heathrow Connect service, which currently costs £19.80. Heathrow is also the only London Airport within the Oyster Card system. A bargain at £6 per journey (subject to variability), although you should plan on nearly an hour's ride from central London.

Remember that train tickets are best purchased in advance, when prices can be considerably lower. Bus and Airport Coach services, such as the easyBus airport transfer in the London and Greater Manchester areas, provide a direct and cost-effective alternative to rail.

Finding the Cheapest Online Flight Deal

Flight prices are one of life's great mysteries. On a magical hour of a special day, when the time is right and moon is waxing, a wonderful bargain may just appear. Fingers crossed that it happens just as you go online.

Flight prices are indeed unpredictable, but not impossible to negotiate, and with modern technology they are cheaper than ever before. The first step is to get a quote for your planned journey, either from a travel agent or an independent flight comparison site, such as Google Flights, Skyscanner, Kayak, Expedia or Momondo. These websites compare the price of hundreds of flight operators and offer you the best deals.

When you find a quote that interests you, be sure to go straight to the airline’s own website to compare the fare they are offering with your best flight comparison site results. That way, you will know if you’re getting a good deal.

To maximise your chances of finding a cheap flight, tick the box 'flexible travel dates'. Flights tend to be more expensive on public holidays and weekends, when more people are travelling. You can make considerable savings if you're prepared to be flexible with your travel dates and set off during the week.

Make use of the price alert service offered by many airlines and flight comparison sites. These let you know when the prices have sunk, without you having to do the research. When a great price comes around, all you have to do is be decisive.

The Best Time to Fly

Flights are generally always cheaper when you book several months in advance, and you will also find less price variety when you book early, saving you time online. The closer you are to your departure date, the more variety there will be in air fares, so it’s worth your while to compare prices on several different search engines.

Whilst there's no hard and fast rule about the best time to book cheap flights, Skyscanner has used its flight data to create a best time to book tool, displaying the average price for flights made to specific destinations at different times of year.

Its data shows, for example, that August is consistently the most expensive month to fly abroad from the UK, whilst bookings made at least 7 weeks in advance tend to be less expensive.

So avoiding the school holidays and not leaving your flights until last minute greatly increases your chances of a deal. In general, high season means high traffic. Flights to Crete, for example, are least expensive in April. Booking your holiday in the shoulder season can mean big savings.

Beating the Cookie Monster

Perhaps you, too, have had the experience of entering your desired flight details into an online search engine, noting the results, double or even triple-checking them against other operators, only to return to the original website and find the price has risen.

How can that be?

One explanation is cookies. Cookies are used to save information about you so that a website can identify you as a user and remember your preferences. Unfortunately, on some airline websites, cookies seem to trigger their dynamic pricing model - the website thinks that the particular flight you are looking for is popular because it has been searched for several times in the last few hours. It doesn't realise all of those searches were made by you! The algorithm thinks that the flight is in high demand - and the prices rise.

There are three actions you can take:

  1. Delete your cookies and browser history between flight searches.
  2. Use a different device, such as switching from your laptop to your smartphone.
  3. Search from different locations, e.g. from home, from work and at the coffee shop. If you use a different Wi-Fi network, you will register as a different user.

Some websites promise their customers that they do not use cookies to store information. Skyscanner, for example, treats your session as anonymous until you book a flight, so rising prices are not influenced by the number of times you search for a flight.

Direct vs Multi-Stop Flights

Flying direct is the least stressful, least time-consuming, and ultimately most environmentally friendly option for reaching your destination. Not all of us have the luxury, however, of living within easy distance of a major air hub.

Nor are all destinations accessible from the UK or the US by direct flights. On Crete, for example, most airlines only charter direct flights during the holiday season, usually between April and November. The best deals can often be snapped up early in the season, from April until mid-May.

If a multi-stop flight is your only option, why not plan to spend a half-day or even an overnight stay at your layover destination? A couple of days in Athens, for example, could be a welcome addition to round off your holiday on Crete.

When booking connecting flights, it can be advantageous to choose the same airline for both flights. The airline can usually send your luggage all the way through to your final destination and will often print out the boarding cards for both flights, which makes things easier when connecting at the second airport. The airline is also more likely to be able to offer assistance if one of your flights is delayed.

The Last Step: Rental Freedom

Rental cars provide the greatest freedom and the most leisurely transport from the airport to your hotel. Not only can you stride serenely past the bustle of the arrivals hall, with name cards, advertisements and cries of 'Taxi! Taxi?', but your travel plans for your entire holiday are now thoroughly liberated from any bus schedules and route plans.

A few things to be aware of:

Booking online is, in almost every case, the least expensive option for rental cars. Many comparison sites offer great deals - but don't simply choose the 'cheapest' car. Often these don't include any kind of insurance, and the following 'add-ons' can be twice as expensive.

Before purchasing insurance together with a car, check your existing insurance policies and whether they will cover you abroad. This can be time-consuming, but saves you a lot of money in the long run. Your home insurance, for instance, may already cover your personal belongings should they be stolen from the car. Your health insurance may make personal accident insurance unnecessary. Some credit cards even offer fringe benefits such as collision damage waiver if you pay for the rental car with your card. Check with your company.

The best deals are those which include a comprehensive insurance package in the final price, with limited or zero deductibles. Read through the finer details of your insurance to make sure that you know what is covered - and what isn't. That way, when you arrive at the rental counter you can respond with confidence to the salesperson's attempts to sell you more insurance products: 'No thank you - I'm covered.'

A special tip - check if your insurance covers you if you drive off road. Some companies won't pay out if you leave the asphalt. Know before you go if you’re planning an off-road trip.

Flight + Hotel Deals

At the Corissia Hotels and Resort, we know our visitors love the freedom to be flexible. Simply reserve the room of your choice with no strings attached. We will hold it for you while you sort out all the finer details of getting to Crete. Changed your mind? You can cancel up to two weeks in advance, and your small booking deposit will be returned to you in full.

Once you have your flights, Corissia can even organise a direct transfer from the airport - so all you need to worry about is which bathing suit to pack.

Perhaps Crete is your destination of choice this year? If so, our travel guide provides you with useful information about the airports in Chania and Heraklion: clear, concise and convenient.

Written by Sarah O'Neill

A passionate traveller, linguist and writer, Sarah has visited over 20 countries around the globe. She loves immersing herself in new cultures, learning the language, and getting to know the local people.

Would you like to be an author at Moments of Inspiration?
Do you have an original idea for a guest blog post or interest to write regularly as an author for us? Send us your article or simply contact us at:

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