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Where have all the last minute holiday deals gone?

With the school holidays at an end September is normally a great month for securing a last minute holiday deal in what is known in the trade as the ‘shoulder season’. Basically this is the period where the weather in most European destinations still makes them a desirable place to visit, all the big tour operators are still flying everywhere you can imagine, school holiday premium prices have gone away and most importantly for those of us without kids it’s finally a chance to go away without the fear of being stuck on a resort with hundreds of screaming kids.

Never one to miss an opportunity for a good deal both my partner and myself booked a week off in September months ago and patiently waited whilst everyone else seemed to go off on holiday smugly believing that they were paying way over the odds (although if you have kids arguably you have no alternative).

As our week off got closer we started scanning the ads in the papers, on websites and on teletext (yep they still do that in this internet age!). At first it was just a quick casual look through what was on offer, but in the days leading up to our holiday it reached a crescendo with every waking hour, outside of work of course, devoted to our search.

But the big savings that last minute bookings normally benefit from just didn’t exist. Plenty of companies were willing to knock 10% of the standard price, but you can usually get this any time of the year. So what happened?

Well it’s possible that so many people now wait for last minute deals that holiday companies have wised up to this and keep prices high. But it’s a competitive market so I find it unlikely this has had a huge effect. Another possible argument is that the poor weather during late August tempted many people to jet off for their sunshine fix.

But the most likely explanation is that tour operators slashed the supply of holidays for this summer as soon as they saw the recession coming and with no guarantee of when things would pick up they would have been reckless to secure flights and rooms that may never have been used. The recent feel good factor that seems to have spread across the UK was too late for holiday companies to react too, so when demand started to return they were left with their fixed supply of holidays to sell.

So given the lack of deals and the weak pound making everything overseas seem more expensive I’ve decided to pack the car and head off to Devon for a couple of days relaxation in a cottage there. And the weather forecast for this week, well it’s for this late Indian summer to continue whilst the Mediterranean is enjoying a couple of days rain.

It’s a funny old world.

Summer Holiday Report

Now that the bucket and spade has been packed away for another year it’s time for normal service to resume, starting with a quick overview of how MillionaireAdventure has still been earning a few pounds whilst enjoying a relaxing break.

First thing to report was a small cashback payment in July earning me £9.14 for comparing car insurance, ordering a pizza and booking a hotel through Quidco links. I can’t emphasise this enough, cashback sites really do offer money for nothing if you were going to buy these things anyway.

Another £10.30 was earned from an online gaming site that I am an existing member of offering me £10 free credit to play with. This was a fantastic offer as I didn’t have to deposit anything, just play through the free credit they had given me and whatever I was left with I was free to withdraw. Playing through low risk games normally means you can expect 60-70% return, but luck was clearly on my side as I finished with £10.30.

Whilst there wasn’t much football to keep me entertained over the summer, England’s spectacular Ashes triumph at least gave me some matched betting opportunities with me netting a £76.51 profit for little effort.

Summer Holiday

Nope the Millionaire Adventure Pig hasn’t caught swine flu during it’s annual holiday to Mexico, rather I have been taking some time out from blogging to enjoy the sunshine British summer. If you run your own blog you will already know how time consuming and unprofitable it is (if you are considering setting up your own blog be sure to check out this post by Monevator first). That’s why I feel it is important to take time out and recharge the batteries, plus it hopefully gives my posts a fresh feel once I come back. 

Normal service should resume beginning of September just in time for the new academic year. If you haven’t already done so then please consider subscribing to Millionaire Adventure via RSS or email to ensure you don’t miss a thing.

Green shoots or are they just weeds?

I’m a huge fan of statistics, but only when used sensibly. The biggest problem with statistics is when people jump to conclusions believing that a single statistic determines a conclusive outcome, which is exactly what the mainstream media seem to be doing with house price surveys.

Whilst these measures all seem to be signalling a rise in house prices, they actually only represent a modest increase in the transactions taking place at the moment, they do not account for the millions of properties that are not currently on the market. So yes the value of each individual mortgage application has increased on average, and yes the value of each completed house sale has increased on average. But this may not reflect the wider market as mortgages are currently being limited to about 90% of the property value, so it is possible that only those with significant equity in their current property are moving house and they are probably taking advantage of the lower prices to trade-up the property ladder.

Also summer is traditionally a time when people look to buy new homes and it remains to be seen whether these rises can be sustained once we head into the winter. Add in the ever increasing number of people unemployed, the shrinking GDP and huge public sector debt and there seems to be little reason to justify why house prices should be on the up.

These may be the early green shoots that everyone has been talking about, but in a years time we may realise they were just weeds taking advantage of a barren soil…. only time will tell.

Isle of Wight by Hovercraft for just £1

Fifty years ago a revolutionary new form of transport was launched from the Isle of Wight. It was not quite a boat and not quite a plane, but the hovercraft went on to become a British success story with Griffon Hoverwork in Southampton claiming to have built over half the world’s commercial hovercraft.

Planning a bike ride around the Isle of Wight I knew straight away I wanted to cross the Solent by hovercraft. Costing the same as the ferry but making the journey in just 10 minutes it really was an easy decision for me, but it really became a no-brainer when I realised I was able to take advantage of a special £1 fare offer. Compared to the usual price of £8 each way, I was able to save £14 and have a little bit of fun too!