Take a break this winter - without breaking the bank

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  • 23 November 2011
Take a break this winter – without breaking the bank

Winter fun or winter sun?

The onset of winter can be depressing, as the evenings get darker and the weather wetter and colder. So why not give yourself something to look forward to by planning your next break? It needn’t be too expensive.

Whether you’re into winter sports or winter sunshine, look out for special deals and packages. Avoid school half-term and the Christmas holidays if you can, and be flexible about dates and times – flights are often cheaper mid-week or at unsociable hours. There are often great deals for people prepared to fly on Christmas Day or New Year’s Day, for example. Consider sharing accommodation – a country cottage, city apartment or a ski chalet, perhaps – with friends, and think about self-catering, rather than staying in a hotel. Look beyond the obvious options, keep an open mind and be prepared to take a chance on up-and-coming resorts or destinations.

A short city break (or two) for a weekend is a great way to break up the boredom of a British winter – how about going to a continental Christmas market to get into the spirit of the festive season? Many cities across France, Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany celebrate Christmas in style, and you can get your festive shopping done while you’re there.

If you’re prepared to fly long-haul, then there may be bargains to be had too: in times of economic slowdown, tour operators and travel companies are fighting for fewer customers. A beach holiday at a luxury resort in the Caribbean, the Maldives, Thailand or Egypt may be within your reach, or you could combine relaxation with tax-free shopping in Dubai. Check out prices for cruises too; operators may be desperate to fill unoccupied cabins, especially at short notice before the departure dates.

Plane, train or automobile?

Keep an eye open for offers from the budget airlines if you’re looking to fly short-haul, and don’t rule out travelling by train to mainland Europe. The Eurostar service is best-known for trips to Paris, Brussels and Bruges, but it can also take you to cities including Lyon and Lille, and it links up easily with services to cities such as Amsterdam, Strasbourg, Geneva, Cologne and Marseille. Combined train ticket and hotel deals can offer great value for money.

Save money on car hire and benefit from the familiarity of your own vehicle by driving: Eurotunnel is affordable if booked in advance (on-the-spot tickets tend to be the dearest) and again, ferry companies often run special offers, especially on their less popular routes. You could combine a break with stocking up in French supermarkets for your Christmas parties – but take care you don’t exceed the legal tax-free limits on alcohol, or a fine will rapidly negate any cost savings you may have made.

Wherever you decide to go, check out currency exchange rates to see where offers the best value, and shop around for the best deal. One convenient way to pay could be by credit card, especially if you've got a card that offers a 0% period on purchases or rewards your spend, and which allows you to spread your payments. And if you’re trying to save money, there is one thing you shouldn’t skimp on: travel insurance, which should be sufficient to cover all your activities. Some credit cards may even offer this as an additional benefit.

Issued by Sainsbury’s Finance

Sainsbury’s Finance is a trading name of Sainsbury’s Bank plc. All information correct at time of publication, but may be subject to change. Any views or opinions expressed in this article are the responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of any part of the Sainsbury’s Group of companies.

Sainsbury’s Finance is a financial services provider engaged in savings accounts, credit cards, and personal loans. It also supplies insurance services in car insurance, home insurance, life insurance, pet insurance and travel insurance as well as being a provider of travel money services.

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