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Jim Eagles: Unwrap a Christmas holiday bargain

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If you see a travel bargain, snap it up. Photo / Thinkstock
If you see a travel bargain, snap it up. Photo / Thinkstock

If you fancy a bit of a break this Christmas but need to do it on the cheap - and who doesn't? - there are a few things you can do to help your money go further.

At the moment, as operators face the prospect of empty spaces over summer, there are some amazing deals on offer.

Go into Google and type "best travel deals NZ" or something similar and you'll get a pile of websites all promising fantastic bargains.

Unfortunately the packages available are so diverse that it's difficult to make comparisons so you'll just have to trawl through the deals and make your own mind up what is the best deal for you.

One thing you can do is to check whether the resort offering accommodation, meals and drinks for $10 night is a fleapit or a plush palace by having a look at the reviews on tripadvisor.com (though you need to keep in mind the reality that some people are never satisfied).

And wotif.com - which when I did a check last year was offering the best range of accommodation deals on the web - has just put out a list of tips for saving money.

One particularly smart piece of advice is to go against the flow.

"Follow the crowds to the beach this festive season and you will wait in the longest queues and pay top dollar for airfares and accommodation," the Wotif folks say.

"Over the same period you can get a great rate on a CBD hotel and take advantage of their swimming pools, gyms and spas."

If you do want to join the rush to the beach they suggest that it's worth being a bit adventurous.

"Rather than looking in only the most popular beach spots, browse a variety of destinations and then let the discounts make the decision ... you might find a new favourite spot."

Wotif also recommends checking out the extras.

"Many hotels add inclusions to their holiday season deals ... such as complimentary breakfasts and free parking."

Similarly they advise having a close look at the free facilities on offer.

"Complimentary use of tennis courts, swimming pools and playgrounds will keep entertainment costs to a minimum."

Finally, they say, act quickly. "If you see a bargain snap it up."

I can vouch for the wisdom of that advice. A few times over the years I've found great deals for flights or hotel rooms, dithered and decided to have one last look somewhere else, then returned to find the price has gone up.

So jump in and book. You know you won't regret it.

- NZ Herald

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