10 Tips for Holidaying on a Budget
The summer is nearing its close and the kids are heading back to school. If you were lucky, you got to take a relaxing holiday.
Unfortunately, financial constraints meant many of us had to stay at home and dream of exotic lands instead of actually being there. This doesn't necessarily have to be the case, as a little planning can make even the most limited budget go a long way.
Here are my top tips for holidaying on a budget.
1. Get the cheapest flight possible
Research from Which.com shows flying on a Tuesday is 35 per cent cheaper than flying on a Friday. Returning is also 45 per cent more expensive on a Sunday.
Thus it makes sense to play around with the dates before you book your flights. You should also shop around with airlines, as there can be a huge difference in price between the premium and basic – even when they are going to the same destination.
Booking well in advance will also save you some cash – skyscanner.com is a great source to compare all flights coming and going to your chosen region.
2. Stay in the country
People forget how beautiful our own country actually is and how many great holidaying hotspots we have. Pack up the kids and hit the open road – you can even save money by camping, instead of staying in an expensive hotel or apartment.
Staying in your own country has the added plus of not having to change currency, speak a foreign language and you also understand all the road signs!
3. Don't be afraid to haggle
When buying a package holiday, haggling is an essential tool. Travel agents are struggling to compete with online deals and you can use this to your advantage.
Speak to as many travel agencies as you can and try to get them to bid against each other for your business. If haggling is something you wouldn't do, then you should at least look on last minute holiday websites as they will often have deals you wouldn't see otherwise.
4. Swap homes
Home swapping is a relatively new concept, but one which has really taken off. For good reason too, finding accommodation for the price of leasing your own home is a great idea.
There are several fantastic websites which take all the details of your own home and try to match you with an ideal partner. No money changes hands, you get free accommodation and everybody ends up a winner.
5. Buy a prepaid currency card
Looking to save on currency exchange and the price of transactions overseas? If your answer was yes, then currency cards such as FairFX may be for you.
You top up these cards before you leave – in return they give you a competitive exchange rate and don't charge for transactions or withdrawals when you are abroad. They are also a great way to keep track of your budget.
6. Share the cost
When it comes to saving money on holidays, the more is the merrier. Booking a package holiday becomes cheaper the more people you have.
A villa which sleeps six isn't usually three times more expensive than one which sleeps two. Sharing the price will lower your overall costs and it may save you money on activity bookings as well.
7. Venture off the beaten track
When on a foreign holiday it is very easy to get caught up in the easily accessible tourist areas. However these areas are usually the most expensive, so a lot of money can be saved by eating and drinking in places off the beaten track.
You will be surprised at the gems which can be found once you leave the tourist hotspots: be it an invigorating hike, an amble through town, or a stroll along the secluded beach – often the best part of a holiday is when you allow yourself to get a little lost.
You can also save by not eating out every evening and cooking at home. But you are on holiday, so you should try to enjoy the local cuisine!
8. Save money at the airport
You should avoid exchanging money at the airport if possible as their rates are rarely competitive. You could end up paying £50 or more extra than you would if you did it in advance.
Airport parking is another cost which is rarely worth it. It is often easier and cheaper to book a bus to the airport, or even to get a cab. Better yet, get a family member or a friend to leave you there!
9. Watch out for mobile roaming charges
This may seem obvious, but it is one which has caught many of us out in the past. Remember to turn off your data roaming before you get on the plane.
If you don't, the bill you return to could be more expensive than the holiday you've been on. If you do need to call home, use the free wi-fi in your apartment or hotel to use Skype or other calling services such as Viber.
10. Visit Free Attractions
I recently visited London for a city-break and found some spectacular attractions which were completely free of charge. For example, I saw a wonderful exhibition in the Tate Modern Art Gallery and I walked along the majestic Thames; without spending a single penny.
Most places have fantastic free attractions – it just takes a small bit of research to find them. You should be cautious though, as the free entry with certain places is often supplemented by extortionate prices on other things; such as coffee shop prices and suggested donations.
Bonus Tip: Do Your Research
The most important thing when holidaying on a budget is research. It's all well and good getting a cheap hotel, but if the place is a dump and ruins your entire stay then you may as well have remained at home.
Do some web research before you go. Not only will this give you an idea of how far your budget will stretch, it will also reveal where the most reasonable places to visit are.