Cheap travel deals: are they as good as they seem?

You get what you pay for. This time-old saying couldn’t be truer; you generally expect the level of quality or service that you’ll get will be on par with the amount you’ve shelled out. This is especially true when it comes to travel. While travelling cheap can have its advantages and may sometimes be worth it, grabbing the cheapest travel deal you can find isn’t always the best idea.

Here are 13 reasons not to grab the cheapest travel deal:

1.The cheapest travel deal usually has an unpleasant trade off. This could take the form of a very early/late flight, a dingy hotel in an unsafe area, or multiple flight connections. I managed to find return flights to India for £327 last year, but my flights were at awful times and they weren’t direct, so I was very tired by the time I arrived.

Me at Amber Fort in Jaipur, India

Me at Amber Fort in Jaipur, India last year

2. While it may be cheap to book dormitory/shared rooms in hostels, and it can often be a great way to meet new people when travelling solo, room-sharing has its inconveniences. You have no privacy, your roommates might be loud or inconsiderate, you won’t have much space and you can’t leave anything of value lying around.

3. The cheapest travel deals may be fraught with unsafe tours or services that are not officially sanctioned by the local tourism office. Even if you have travel insurance, don’t risk going anywhere if you’re uncertain about the transportation or tour company that will bring you there. It pays to research the tour operators listed in the package details before placing any bookings.

4. More often than not, your accommodation won’t be up to scratch; it might not feel like the four-star hotel it was described as, while the cleanliness or customer service may be lacking. This was certainly true when I went to Sunny Beach, Bulgaria in June. We stayed at Hotel Kuban Resort and Aquapark and while the location couldn’t have been better, the food was terrible and the ‘aquapark’ was a glorified swimming pool.However, as I’m sure you’ll agree, our room did have unrivalled views over Sunny Beach.

Panoramic view of Sunny Beach, Bulgaria

5. When you travel to a country that lacks safety standards, there are even bigger risks. If you happen to get injured or fall ill, you could end up getting lumped with a huge sum. Don’t go anywhere without ensuring you choose travel insurance that covers medical expenses. The Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) offer excellent guidance on how to choose the best travel insurance policy for you.

6. If you’ve gone for a particularly cheap deal that includes catering and your accommodation is below a reasonable standard, be wary of what you eat. A few of my friends have got food poisoning after eating a dodgy meal while on holiday, and it’s the last thing you want to deal with when you’re trying to have a good time.

7. When you buy a cheap airline ticket, it’s highly unlikely that you’ll be able to cancel and get a refund, reschedule or transfer the ticket if you decide to change your travel plans.

View from a plane

8. Low-budget airline tickets often impose strict luggage guidelines, and don’t always have much space for additional luggage. If you’re planning on shopping for souvenirs and gifts for your loved ones, you’ll have to pay for excess baggage if you exceed the weight restriction.

9. The airport could be located far away from your destination. Sometimes budget airlines land in secondary airports that are further from your destination; this commonly occurs in European countries. Before placing any bookings, always check the distance from the airport to your destination and find out how long it will take and how much it will cost.

10. Extremely cheap travel deals may include accommodation in a hostel that doesn’t have strict rules and guidelines, and there is always a chance that your security could be compromised. While there are lots of amazing hostels that offer top service, always check the reviews of the accommodation provided as part of your travel deal. I stayed at Hostel Strand Continental in London recently and while the room was comfortable and the location was fantastic, I didn’t enjoy lugging a heavy suitcase up and down four flights of stairs because there wasn’t a lift in the building; if I’d read the reviews in advance, I could’ve opted to stay elsewhere.

11. There may be hidden fees, taxes, insurance costs and other expenses that could increase the cost of the package.

12. Some low-fare airline deals require two-way tickets, and the cost may even be more expensive than getting a regular one-way ticket.

13. The cheapest air travel usually maximises the use of the aircraft, so it may have several trips during the day. The passenger may experience delays because these aircraft are on a strict schedule, with a break of around just 40 minutes between each flight. It could also mean that you’re squashed together like sardines on the plane, like me and my best friend were when we flew to Portugal with Ryanair last year!

Grotto boat tour

Although it can be tempting to snap up the cheapest travel deal, there is often something dubious about buying the most inexpensive travel package. If it seems too good to be true, it often is. That’s not to say that low-budget travelling doesn’t have its advantages, and it’s perfectly possible to travel affordably without compromising your safety, security, and health – just do your research first so you can be confident you’ll have a brilliant time!

Have you ever purchased a cheap travel deal? Did it live up to your expectations?

Cheap travel deals: are they as good as they seem?

This is a collaborative post.

18 Comments

  1. December 21, 2017 / 5:20 pm

    I always try to be really careful and shop around a lot to find the cheapest deals around. I tend to buy everything seperately as I tend to find it cheaper x

    • December 22, 2017 / 1:06 am

      I’m the same – the process of booking a holiday can be so time-consuming in itself!

  2. thethriftescape
    December 22, 2017 / 1:36 am

    I haven’t tried to buy cheap travel deals. But yeah, I’ve heard some good and bad. I usually go to hostel though, when traveling solo ’cause it’s practical. But you’re right, some can be loud or some snores 😅

    • December 22, 2017 / 3:40 pm

      I often use hostels too, or Air BnB more recently as well. It’s just important to check the reviews to make sure it’s decent.

  3. December 22, 2017 / 8:51 am

    It really is about doing your researching when booking a trip, especially on a budget. Some cheaper alternatives might actually set you back or you may just end up really happy with your planning.

    • December 22, 2017 / 3:42 pm

      I agree, I’ve had some great cheap deals, but I’ve also had some awful ones. Research is essential.

  4. December 22, 2017 / 10:17 am

    I have been learning since childhood, just because you got cheap doesn’t mean you get everything. But sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. Depends on the Perspective I must say. Cheap is good unless it is worth it. Let it be anything Travel,Online Shopping.

    • December 22, 2017 / 3:43 pm

      I agree, sometimes you can get a good deal and it works out fantastic, but I’ve had some bad experiences too. Always read the small print!

  5. December 22, 2017 / 10:22 pm

    When I was little, our family didn’t have much money and had to do everything as cheaply as possible. One year decided to drive to Florida. The car radio was broken, and our mom only had one CD — her new Cat Power album. We listened to it for 17 hours. When we finally got to the beach, and we went swimming, I swear I could hear the first song off the album every time I went underwater. Without question, a decade later, I still know every. single. lyric. x

    • December 23, 2017 / 5:51 pm

      That’s such a heart warming story! Our family wasn’t too well off either. One year, we holidayed at a caravan park only around one hour from our home, on the South Wales coast (Porthcawl). We stayed in a gas caravan with no electric and we had a great time!

  6. December 23, 2017 / 10:17 am

    Yes, I usually buy cheap airline tickets, I know it’s risky sometimes, but it’s worth it!

    • December 23, 2017 / 5:52 pm

      I always look for cheap airline tickets too. I am happy to take a flight at an inconvenient time or stopover to save money if need be.

  7. December 24, 2017 / 9:00 am

    I do extensive research while opting any cheap travel deal as sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. But its very rare when its really work out. I could not opt this while traveling with kids as it can be risky sometimes.

    • December 26, 2017 / 11:51 am

      Yes, when travelling with kids it’s even more important to ensure that you will have a happy, healthy stay!

  8. December 24, 2017 / 9:05 am

    It’s good that you pointed these out. Especially when it comes to holidays, price is not the only aspect – you want to enjoy your time. Getting older, comfort becomes a bit more important. It always depends on how much comfort you have to sacrify for which amount, I find.

    • December 26, 2017 / 11:51 am

      I agree. I am quite happy to stay in budget accommodation but it’s nice to have a bit of luxury from time to time too!

  9. December 24, 2017 / 10:58 am

    I usually only look into cheap flights, but never give up quality and comfort by staying in cheap hotels. I always go for 4 star and up.

    • December 26, 2017 / 11:49 am

      I love a cheap flight as long as it’s not at a ridiculous time. I’m happy to compromise on accommodation to an extent though.

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