Have you got the travel bug but not the bank balance to go with it? It’s easy to be put off by the costs before you’ve even started to plan a holiday. After all, there’s always something else to spend the money on. But you really don’t need to be rich to go away; it’s often more about motivation than money so once a holiday is a priority, all you need to do is establish a budget and book wisely.
If you’re having trouble getting organised, we’ve gathered together some money saving tips which should help you to indulge in your wanderlust without breaking the bank.
Book at the right time
Experts recommend that you plan your holiday and your daily activities well in advance as the earlier you book your airfares and accommodation, the easier it will be to find the best deals. Scour the latest travel offers carefully and, of course, be sure of what’s included in the price.
In general, flying on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and in low season often costs less than going on Fridays, weekends, bank holidays or peak season. Equally, flying in the middle of the night or during the twilight hours is often less expensive than during the day. Last-minute deals do sometimes exist but you do run the risk of them not coming up.
Book airport car parking well in advance as doing so on the day can often turn out to be far more expensive.
Beat baggage fees
Making the most of your hand luggage often avoids the unnecessary cost of checking in a suitcase. You will be surprised how little you need while you are away, especially if it is a sun and sea holiday. You might be able to wear what does not fit and fill your pockets too! With a little careful packing, you’ll be surprised how much you can fit in a cabin luggage bag.
The cost of excess baggage can significantly add to the price of your flight, particularly if you arrive at check-in without paying for the excess beforehand so be careful when taking that extra pair of shoes or buying those must-have souvenirs that just won’t fit into your luggage. If your flight has weight restrictions, weighing your bags before you leave is vital.
Double check the overall cost
Before booking, make sure you look at the overall cost of the holiday as certain luxuries may not be included. For example, self-catering accommodation sometimes looks like great value but don’t forget add on the costs of food and entertainment each day, which can often tot up to more than the price of the holiday itself.
All-inclusive holidays are popular as they often enable you to indulge in as much food and drink as you like, which is often a good family option. What’s more, an all-inclusive holiday is not necessarily more expensive than a half-board holiday; however it does restrict when and where you can eat.
If you are booking an all-inclusive holiday, be careful to look at what exactly is included in your holiday package. What food, drinks, travel connections and hotel facilities are included in the price and how well do they cater for your particular needs?
Cutting down on eating and drinking costs
The cost of eating and drinking on non-inclusive holidays is likely to mount up, particularly in countries where restaurants are pricey. At any rate, dining out in restaurants every day (even in a country where eating out is cheap) is a major expense, particularly for families. However, part of the joy of travelling is tasting the local cuisine and you’re likely to eat better and save money by eating where the locals do; what’s more, you will get a first-hand view of what the real food and lifestyle is like in the country you are visiting.
Cooking at home is one of the benefits of booking an apartment, villa or studio. You might like to research the local cuisine before you leave home and decide which local dishes you’d like to try making yourself – you don’t have to go to a trattoria to enjoy authentic pasta when you’re in Italy when you can make it yourself with fresh local ingredients.
Another top tip is to stay on a bed and breakfast basis, stock up in local supermarkets for picnic lunches and eat out in the evenings only.
What will you be doing?
Think ahead about what sort of excursions and activities you might want to do and if necessary book them as early as possible in order not to worry about the cost when you get there. Just by doing a bit of homework, you may discover special offers or times when tickets are at their cheapest. For example, a city like Rome has so many museums and historic buildings that you may be able to save money by buying a multi-museum pass. Companies like Attractions Direct enable you to buy tickets before you travel.
Look for discounts in the form of city-specific deals and your hotel might offer discount coupons and information about special offers in town. Alternatively, ask at the Tourist Office for any special deals available.
Sticking to a daily entertainment budget really helps to keep spending in check on your holidays. Tickets to a theme park, zoo or a water park may seem affordable as one-off expenses but if all your excursions are similarly priced, you could end up spending far more than you expected.
There’s plenty you can enjoy that doesn’t cost money. Free walking tours are often available in most cities and are great, cost effective ways to discover your destination. A day at the beach doesn’t have to be expensive, especially if you take a picnic and avoid buying too many drinks and ice creams. Instead of taking the kids to a theme park, you could create your own beach activities like a sandcastle-building competition, rock pooling, looking for shells, or a game of beach tennis, football or volleyball.
Consider staying in the UK
Sometimes you can cut your travel costs to some extent by holidaying in the UK. However this isn’t always the case: low cost airlines can certainly undercut the cost of UK trains for example and an all-inclusive holiday in Bulgaria or Greece could well turn out cheaper than one back home. In terms of transport, coaches are an economical means of travel and companies such as Terravision operate services in the UK, Italy, Malta and the Netherlands.
Why not discover England’s south coast, especially ever-popular Devon and Cornwall which are heaven for summer holidays? If you’re a keen walker then Wales’s coastal paths and Snowdonia National Park, the Yorkshire Dales or the Lake District should be right up your street. As with all holidays, budgeting and working out all those otherwise hidden costs beforehand, is likely to save you money and avoid any nasty surprises.
Use public transport
Connections to and from the airport are not always included in your holiday’s price. Avoiding taxis will normally mean great savings and if you pack light, you easily make the most of public transport without any hassle or expense.
Many cities have free or low-cost transfer options as well as passes for unlimited travel, while others offer low-cost shuttle services running from the airport. Your hotel may even have a shuttle service so it pays to find out in advance what transport may be available.
Exchange some currency before you travel
If possible, order your foreign currency before you arrive at the airport as this will often ensure you get the best rate possible.
Bear in mind that certain debit cards are better to use abroad than others so it’s well worth finding out the charges you will need to pay beforehand.
A prepaid card is also worth considering as it only enable you to spend the available funds you have on the card. It is very easy to get carried away with spending on holiday so using a pre-paid cash card instead of a credit card can save a small fortune.
Manage your mobile
Just like back home, you probably can’t live without your mobile phone or other internet devices on holiday. But when travelling, your phone is roaming and it’s important to know how best to use your internet device without unintentionally incurring unnecessary, sometimes extortionate roaming charges.
Getting organised is easy. Read our special guide to setting up your mobile connection abroad without breaking the bank.