Achieving low price and quality in travel

I think that there can be a world of difference between cheap and value for money travel. To some extent it does depend on the product. “You get what you pay for” isn’t always the case with travel. You don’t want cheap, nasty and low quality but neither do you want to pay through the nose. How do you strike the balance of low cost and reasonable quality?

If you fly with a low cost airline that has to meet minimum safety criteria, there may be some jostling during boarding, you’ll have to pay for any drinks or food and the airports used may be further from the city centre but basically you are flying from A to B.

Accommodation can be tricky. If you book a £19 Supersaver or £29 Saver Travelodge room, your room will be the same as someone who pays the full price. However you will have paid for your room either 21 or 7 days in advance on the non refundable rate.

You may be able to find the same hotel at a lower price through a different hotel search site. Again you meed to be aware of the booking contract, if you’ve to pay a non refundable deposit and watch out for cancellation penalties. I’ve already blogged about price comparison sites not necessarily finding cheapest deal with no effort. This was demonstrated to me again this week when searching for accommodation in Majorca from 22 – 29 February 2008. I found a one bedroom apartment at the Don Miguel in Puerto Pollensa for £123 with LowCostBeds, £30 less than the cheapest price of £153 displayed on Travelsupermarket.

Car hire is complex because the cheapest deal my not include excess waiver so in the event that you damage the car you may have to pay the first few hundred pounds of the damage. You also have to watch out for additional charges for more than one driver with some companies whereas other include this free of charge. I like Economycarhire as they offer no insurance excess and two drivers as standard.

To me value for money is purchasing a travel product that provides what is important to me at a price I judge to be appropriate. This is going to be a matter of personal priorities. One of the easiest ways to get value for money is to travel in low season. I prefer to avoid busy, peak periods and hot weather.

I’m not sure about how much time you should spend searching in order to save a few pounds on flights, accommodation or car hire. Again it’s down to personal preference and lifestyle, if you enjoy messing around the computer you may savour the bargain hunt. If you’re short of free time, why bother spending two hours to save a few pounds.