Dubbed “Blue Monday”, January 15 is alleged to be the most depressing day of the year, as the Christmas credit card bills arrive, new year resolutions have been broken and it feels like an age before the next payday.
Nevertheless, this is a huge marketing opportunity for holiday companies prepared to tempt jaded consumers with cut-price deals for a few weeks in the sun.
“Holiday companies will clamour to use this ‘special’ day once again to boost their ‘deals’,” says a sceptical Helen Dewdney, the consumer blogger and campaigner better known as the Complaining Cow.
She has teamed up with other money bloggers to suggest how holidaymakers can “play the travel companies at their own game” and make genuine savings if they are tempted to book a trip away.
Their number one tip? Regularly clear the “cookies” from your web browser, as this will prevent sites from remembering the holidays, flights and hotel bookings you have previously browsed and often automatically raising the price of those you’ve looked at before.
If you end up feeling blue because promised deals don’t turn out to be the bargain you thought they were, Ms Dewdney says there are numerous consumer rights that holidaymakers should be aware of.
“If you feel you have made a purchasing decision that you wouldn’t have made had you been given accurate information — such as a misleading price — then you may be able to claim a refund under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Legislation Regulations 2008,” she advises.
“There is also the Package Travel, Package Holidays and Package Tour Regulations 1992 which give you lots of rights regarding any changes that the travel company may make, among other things.”
Another blogger, Emma Maslin, aka The Money Whisperer, says that if you are planning a break during popular times such as the school holidays it makes sense to book ahead. However, if you can be more flexible, wait until closer to the date of departure for the best last-minute deals.
“There might not be a last-minute option — that’s the risk that you take. But if you are flexible and can go elsewhere or fly on a different day to save money, then it pays to look around,” she says.
Andy Webb, who writes the blog Be Clever With Your Cash, advises booking car hire far in advance to get the lowest price. “Make sure the car is big enough — it will only cost a few quid more to get a bigger car when booking, but can be hundreds if you have to upgrade at the check-in desk,” he says.
He also advises holidaymakers never to buy an excess waiver from a car rental company. “You can get policies cheaply elsewhere that will cover you for damage to the car, but make sure you are comparing like-for-like inclusive totals,” he says.
William Pointing, who blogs at Great Deals Made Easy, advises holidaymakers to make sure their travel insurance starts on the day they buy their holiday in case they need to claim before they travel.