Maybe you didn't have a holiday last year, or perhaps don't know how you'll make it through the year without a break away, but more of us are booking holidays at the last minute, and we're looking for the best bargains we can get.
Economist Susan Hayes works as a financial mentor at The InvestR Centre in Greystones, and here are her tips for getting good holiday deals.
1. Get a discount on a foreign holiday Research what countries have a cheap currency relative to the euro, and then visit some sites that have special holiday offers in those countries, for examples www.gohop.ie, www.ebay.com, www.lastminute.com, www.redribbon.ie etc. Alternatively, visit your local travel agent to see what trips they have available. Frequently agents have charter flights to fill at knock-down prices and can get discounts on booking hotels.
2. Be savvy booking flights online Buy travel insurance for the year instead of on each individual flight if you make a number of trips annually. When going on weekend breaks, only bring hand luggage to avoid charges for checked-in bags. Opt to get a confirmation email and note your flight reference instead of paying the extra for a text message.
If you don't need priority boarding 'untick' the box for it. Also, check your baggage allowance before packing and don't go over it to avoid extra, unnecessary costs. To avoid this potentially costly problem, invest in suitcases with inbuilt weighing scales. Check out the new Limerick company www.flylight.ie for innovative stress-busters!
3. Consider an all- inclusive holiday If you have children, the costs of eating out and fun activities for the children can mount up while you're away. A cruise is a holiday which is suitable for all ages and interests and the package includes food, accommodation and entertainment. You can choose the "local" Mediterranean or far-flung destinations such as Alaska and South America. Discounts are available on early bookings. Visit www.royalcaribbean.com for ideas.
4. Talk is cheap . . . ensure it stays that way Call your mobile phone provider and ask for the name of the best network to be on while roaming. Switch to that network when you touch down in the airport. Better again, leave the mobile at home and just use a payphone. This can prevent a huge financial headache when the bill arrives. The financial scars of this cost can last far longer than your tan.
5. How much does money cost? Do your homework on how much it costs to spend money abroad. Do you pay a flat fee every time you take money out of an ATM, or a percentage of the amount you withdraw? What is the foreign exchange rate you will get when you use your Laser or credit card abroad? Be sure to look at your bank's website or call them up before you go to find out these crucial details.
If you want some currency before you leave, go to the bank a month beforehand so that you give them enough notice to get the notes to the branch.
Finally, Travellers' Cheques can be a cheaper, safer option. Bear in mind that there will be a commission on the amount, you will need to go to an agent (with ID) to cash them in and again the bank needs notice to get them ready for you.
6. Costa del Irelande . . . the staycation There's lots to see within our own Emerald Isle. Have you been to the Galway Races, kissed the Blarney Stone, seen Newgrange, visited Trinity College or taken in the view at the Giants' Causeway?
Visit www.discoverireland.ie to see exactly what is on offer and pick a location within our own shores this year.
7. A good night's sleep . . . Check out www.trip advisor.com for people's experiences in accommodation before making a booking anywhere to ensure you will get the service you expect to pay for. There are lots of offers available from hotels these days so it's worth your while to search out good deals.
For the person who appreciates the homeliness, personal touch and homemade breakfast, there are some excellent bed and breakfasts out there. Check out www.azalealodge.com (No 1 in Dublin on Tripadvisor).
Also, hostels are not just for backpackers, and, if you simply want a bed for the night, this budget accommodation may be for you. Go to a well-run hostel to ensure a good experience. See www.sleepzone.ie who have hostels in Galway and in rural areas in the West.
Many holiday homes were purchased as investment properties through tax breaks and now they're lying idle in some beautiful locations such as Enniscrone in Sligo. You may be able to negotiate some very good rents for family holidays.
8. Have fun while you're there No matter where you decide to go, do your research to see what activities are on offer.
Investigate family discounts at tourist attractions. Find special offers at restaurants, earlybird meals, 2-for-1 pizzas etc. If you are taking a bus tour, buy a 24-hour ticket in the middle of the day, so that you can use it again the next morning.
The cheapest form of fun is laughter, so make sure your holiday is full of it.