School Holiday Travel – How to find an affordable City Break to Florence at Easter!

So my husband and I have just returned from a lovely two night city break to Italy.  Here are my top tips to keep the trip affordable in the school holidays.

  • Firstly, before I begin, you must sign up to Top Cashback.  This is a website recommended to us by our mortgage adviser.  Once you have created your account, simple search for your deals as you would normally BUT before you book them, look on top cashback’s website to see if they offer any deals for that company.  For example, I found the cheapest deals for us on the Easy Jet website, so I searched for Easy Jet on the Top Cashback website, it offered 4% cashback.  I clicked the link, this took me back to the Easy Jet website and I found the deal again and booked it.  Once I had paid for our holiday, I received 4% on the cost of the holiday back!  A little bit of extra spending money!
  • Fly to Pisa and get the train to Florence – Flights to Pisa were much cheaper than flying directly to Florence.  It was really easy (and cheap) to get from Pisa to Florence, see my step by step blog post for more information.
  • Either book flights and hotel separately to get cheap deals OR book as a package to pay in instalments to spread the cost.
  • I found that booking directly with flight airlines such as Easy Jet rather than a package holiday company was much cheaper.
  • If you are based in the Midlands, like me, I found it was much cheaper to fly from Manchester, then Birmingham, then East Midlands.
  • I found Easy Jet and Ryan Air to be the cheapest airlines for these airports!  You can also get good deals with Jet2 from East Midlands.  Jet 2 is also a great website when comparing flights only, compared to packages.
  • Parking at Manchester Airport – There are lots of options but we found the Holiday Extras website great for deals and huge discounts when pre-booking parking.  I would definitely recommend parking at Terminal 1 Multi-Storey Car Park for ease of travel, especially if you live south of the airport.  You just pre-book, turn up, the barrier recognises your number plate, you find a space, park and walk to the terminal.  Easy! No shuttles required, no waiting around and all the walkways are undercover.  It only took about 5 minutes!  It is also really easy to find and very easy to leave from, no complicated one way systems.
  • Don’t book your transfers from Pisa to Florence in advance!  It is so easy and cheap to buy train tickets when you arrive at the stations in Italy, in fact, it is less stressful as you don’t need to worry about times constraints!  See my blog post on how to get from Pisa to Florence with ease.
  • When choosing your flights, look at midweek flights, specifically Tuesday to Thursday departures, as I found that these were much cheaper.  We travelled on a Thursday (before Good Friday) and came back on the Saturday (before Easter Sunday).  Not only was this significantly cheaper than Friday to Sunday/Monday but it was so much quieter, no queues at security and passport control!  Bonus!
  • Fast Track!  These are tickets that allow you to skip the long lines at security.  You can buy them for £5 online before you travel, which we did.  However, due to the times we travelled (midweek), it was relatively empty at security.  However, we later found out that you can buy the tickets at the airport also, there are machines as you arrive at security.  So you could leave it until you arrive at the airport and if it looks busy, buy your tickets!  Check the link for more details as there may be restrictions!
  • Hotels – If you’re booking your hotel separately to your flights, I highly recommend Booking.com, Trivago or airbnb.  Another way of getting a good deal is to book direct with the hotel, it is always a good idea to check this first as you often get extras and discounts thrown in.  For example, at our hotel, you got free bottled water, wine and chocolates when booked directly with the hotel.
  • I found the best deals for hotels on the Jet2 and Easy Jet websites this time.  Also, when booking your hotel, look at the hotels that are just outside the city centre.  We got a four star hotel with breakfast for the same price as a three star hotel without breakfast in the centre.
  • Our hotel was called Hotel Rapallo and it was located about a 10 minute walk north of the Duomo.  The staff were fantastic, so welcoming and friendly.  The breakfast was also delicious, a great continental selection and a range of hot food too such as bacon, sausages and eggs!  It was also spotless, the decor was modern, a real attention to detail throughout the hotel, it was immaculate!  I would highly recommend it!
  • Easy Jet offer lots of different services as extras, but we actually found that we didn’t need to buy them as we got them anyway, I’m not sure if this is always the case though.  For example…
    • We considered paying about £7 each to go Hands Free which enables you to drop off your bag before security and not have to worry about your luggage through security and into departures.  It would also help with things like liquids and toiletries and not being able to find space for it on the plane, however, it started to up the costs dramatically so we opted out of this service!  When we got to the airport however, Easy Jet were asking people to opt to put their hand luggage into the hold (for free) to allow for faster boarding!  This was after security though, but it made me glad I hadn’t paid for this service.
    • We also expected to have to pay extra to sit together and reserve seats on the plane.  However, when I logged in to check in online, it had already assigned us seats which were together.  I did check in online quite early, like as soon as it opened, so I’m not sure if this is why.  I could have still paid extra to change the seats or upgrade them, but it was only a 2 hour flight so it didn’t warrant the extra cost.  Another great saving, that’s an extra glass of Chianti!

Please feel free to message me with any questions you might have.  Enjoy your trip!

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