Saving money on your holiday
At last the sun is here, and we’re all thinking about getting away for some rest and relaxation. Whether you’re hankering for a beach break or want to explore a city, we’ve got some ideas on how you can find a cheap holiday and save a little extra spending money.
1. Do it yourself
Many travel companies offer budget holidays, but you can make savings if you’re prepared to research and plan in advance. This also offers you freedom to choose exactly what you want, and normally at a saving.
Planning and research might take time, but you might save yourself money in the long-run.
2. Use search engines cleverly
When searching for flights (for example), websites will often work out what you're doing and gradually increase prices beyond the original quote. But you can prevent your browser from retaining your search history, making it harder for websites to target you with higher prices.
This is done by turning on a function in your browser window.With Google Chrome it’s called “incognito” and they provide a guide for using it. For Internet Explorer and Edge it’s “InPrivate Browsing” and for Safari and Firefox it’s just “Private”.
The same thing can be achieved by regularly clearing your history, however this is a more time-consuming way of searching and means you lose records of your frequently-visited sites.
3. Give yourself plenty of time
As a rule, prices go up the nearer to the travel dates you get. If you know when you would ideally like to get away for your budget holiday a few months in advance then you can get the best prices on flights and hotel stays.
Last-minute deals are available, however they are usually reductions on more expensive trips and if you’re hoping to travel on a budget then they might not offer you the best value.
Undersold flights can be booked last minute and can mean major savings, however they are rare and are more suited to very spontaneous travel.
4. Be flexible
Being flexible about dates means that you can make your own cheap holiday on dates near your desired travel time. For instance, flying on a Friday is usually much more expensive than flying on a Tuesday. If you can take the time off, then this flexibility can save you money and give you a chance to see somewhere when it’s quieter.
And if you know when you want to fly but are less concerned about where, apps like Skyscanner will give you a list of the cheapest destinations for specific dates. Some great European countries are surprisingly cheap, even in summer.
If you have a translation function on your browser, then Swoodoo is a German site that shows you the cheapest flights in a table format for any given days. You can easily compare against the three days surrounding the one you choose without having to resubmit your search.
5. Use an AirBnB
AirBnBs are often a way of saving money compared to what you could spend on a hotel. They are in great locations as well as more out-of-the-way places and, because they're normally parts of someone's residence, they often have a more personal touch than hotels.
6. Get to know your area
AirBnBs in a city centre are logically more expensive than those on the peripheries. But that doesn’t mean you need to compromise on quality. Staying in a cheaper area might mean you get a nicer place as well as giving yourself a more intimate experience of the area you’re visiting. If you know in advance what transport links are like then you can have a cheap holiday while getting to know somewhere really well.
7. Be versatile about how you travel
Flying is usually the cheapest way of getting to Europe – and is the only way of getting most places further afield. But keep an eye open for train deals, as these sometimes offer great value as well as being a more fun and unique experience.
If you don't mind taking a little longer to reach your destination, then travelling by coach can mean serious savings.
Driving can be more liberating if you are going somewhere rural and not too far into the continent, but remember that petrol and insurance costs can soon add up.
8. Pack light
Putting luggage in the hold is a guaranteed way to increase your spend. Lots of bags are available that comply with maximum size hand-luggage regulation and are surprisingly roomy.
Take a look at our packing guide to see how you can get the most into your hand luggage and avoid having to pay for hold luggage.
9. Track currencies to get the best value holiday money
A Post Office Travel Money Card is a great alternative to taking cash away. It can be used in 13 currencies and works anywhere you see the Mastercard sign. You can withdraw cash and keep track of your spending easily, making your holiday safer and easier.
Flexibility and planning can translate to money in your pocket if it’s done well. But remember that all travel comes with risks, so don’t leave home without buying the right travel insurance.