How did the research work?
Researchers used a VPN (a virtual private network) to make it look like they were searching for holidays from outside of the UK.
Using a VPN hides your IP address for more privacy and security. You can hide your virtual location to gain more internet freedom by connecting to a server in your chosen country.
For this study, researchers connected to servers in countries like Germany, Italy, New Zealand, and Spain, making it look like they were browsing from there.
By doing so, they discovered that booking specific trips, activities, and cruises from the UK costs significantly more than making the same purchase from other markets. Let’s look at their findings in more detail.
What did the research show?
Researchers uncovered savings worth more than £1,156 (17.6%) at Disneyland Paris, £454 (28.4%) at MSC Cruises, and almost £293 (15.7%) on hotel stays at Booking.com. They also identified significantly lower prices at Tui, Center Parcs, Hertz, Sixt, and Hotels.com.
Let’s look at a few of these opportunities to save in more detail:
- Save 49.4% on car hire (New Zealand server). Researchers looked at how much it would cost to rent a Toyota Camry at Auckland Airport for two weeks this April. From the UK, renting this car would cost £2,484. Connecting to a New Zealand server would reduce the rental price by 49.4% to £1,258. This price revealed that UK customers would pay 97.5% more than New Zealand customers.
- Save 28.4% on a cruise (New Zealand server). Researchers also discovered you could save 28.4% on a 7-night Mediterranean cruise with MSC Cruises. They looked at the price of booking an interior cabin in June 2023. The cruise would cost £1,598 if booked from the UK website – while booking it through the Italian site would cost £1,144 (£454 less).
- Save 17.6% on Disneyland Hotel (French server). A 7-night stay at the Disneyland Hotel in New York would cost £6,562 for a family of four if booked from the UK. However, reserving the same stay while connected to the French server would cost £5,406, saving you 21.4% (£1,156).
What causes different prices?
The prices vary by country for many reasons, some of which are:
- The economy of the country. Companies know that people in wealthier countries can afford to pay more for holidays, car hire, and holiday-related activities than those from poorer countries. Providers exploit this situation by charging more in wealthier countries to maximize profit.
- Currency fluctuations. The value of currency changes over time, sometimes quite sharply. Exchange rate fluctuations can significantly impact the prices in different locales.
- Company location. Providers may offer lower prices in their home countries. That’s why it’s always worth connecting to the server in the country where the company is based.
Marijus Briedis, chief technology officer at NordVPN, says, “Never assume you’re seeing the same price as everyone else. Companies use all kinds of complex algorithms to cater to the purchasing power of different countries. They will routinely show different prices on different website domains, and it can even differ depending on where you’re visiting from.”
How to save on holiday bookings with a VPN
There’s no need to overpay for a holiday abroad. Using a VPN can save you a lot of money – and it’s easy to get started.
Make sure you choose a reliable VPN provider that takes your privacy and security seriously. Though looking for a free option may be tempting, it’s best to stay clear of free VPNs. Here’s how to save on holiday bookings with a VPN:
- Get a VPN subscription. If you’re interested in NordVPN, you’ll find our subscription plans here.
- Download and install the VPN app on your device.
- Launch the app and enter your credentials to sign in.
- Pick a server in a country of your choice, and connect to it.
- Head to the provider websites and note down the prices.
- Repeat this process with several server locations to find the best price. We also recommend clearing your browser’s cache before returning to the site so it doesn’t identify you as a returning user and impact the price you’re shown.
Even though this process might take a little longer than you’re used to, you’re likely to find some great deals to make it worthwhile. This method will work for finding cheaper flights, hotels, car rentals, and even general online shopping.
Is it legal to use a VPN to get lower prices?
Yes, it is. Using a VPN protects your privacy and enhances your online security. It’s perfectly acceptable for users to buy tickets and book holidays while connected to a VPN server.
The research was commissioned by NordVPN and conducted by an external agency between August 24 and September 6, 2022. Researchers conducted simultaneous searches for identical products sold by the same vendor using different country servers. The searches were conducted between August 24 and September 6, 2022.