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How nice it is to get away from the daily grind once in a while and feel the sun on your face, the wind in your hair and the sand beneath your feet!
Great if you have the cash but what if you don’t? What if you can’t afford Cannes or to visit Vienna? Just because you can’t jet off doesn’t necessarily mean a break is out of the question.
While we cannot wave a magic wand and transport you overseas, we can give you some ideas on how you can make your budget stretch that bit further when you spend within your means!
1. Go camping
One of the best ways to save money on holidays is to go camping. There are thousands of excellent campsites across the UK that have the facilities you’d expect – swimming pools, bars, nightclubs, play areas for the kids and amusement arcades.
And there are plenty that don’t have any of these things if you want a quiet break to enjoy the great outdoors just as it is.
The secret is choosing the campsite that best matches the type of holiday you’d like. For instance, if you want a nice, relaxing holiday on a quiet site with an outdoor swimming pool, a play area for the kids and a small bar, I highly recommend Treloy Touring Park in Newquay, Cornwall.
We’ve travelled to this place twice from our home in Manchester and loved it on both occasions.
Of course, you will need to spend some money on gear if it’s your first camping holiday, but once you have that, you can go away as often as you can afford.
A decent-sized tent costs anywhere from £300 to £thousands.
A few websites to help you find the perfect campsite for you and your family:
2. Book into a bed and breakfast rather than a hotel
If you really like to sleep in a bed and not a tent, find a bed & breakfast (B&B). Britain invented the good old B&B so you’ll find plenty to choose from.
The beauty of a bed and breakfast is that they offer a more personal experience compared to hotels, even smaller ones. Owners typically live in the B&B and have a vested interest in helping visitors have a memorable time.
They are also situated in a wide range of locations not serviced by the bigger hotels and can sometimes provide you with much more detailed knowledge of the local area. They’ll also have relationships with other local businesses such as restaurants, museums and theatres which may offer discounts to people staying in the B&B.
When you’re booking your stay, do so by phone and ask if they have any special offers available at the current rates. If the answer is no, try haggling on the price. Because B&Bs are independently owned, you’re more likely to get a positive outcome than trying the same approach with a hotel chain.
3. Leave your booking until the last minute
Waiting until the very last minute can save you a lot of money on a holiday, especially if you book online. Plenty of travel companies have pages on their websites dedicated to last-minute deals, and some send notifications to your browser if you allow them.
Last-minute holiday deals:
Last-minute holiday deals are especially appealing to people who are prepared to be flexible when it comes to destinations and travel times. Families with two or more children might not have the flexibility to wait until the last minute compared to couples or lone travellers.
4. Book an all-inclusive holiday
Booking an all-inclusive holiday is one of the best ways to control your budget when going away. When you book an all-inclusive holiday you know exactly how much you’re going to spend on your accommodation, food, drinks and entertainment.
The major drawback, or plus point, depending on your point of view and desire to explore, is that you must stay within the hotel/resort’s grounds for your spending to be covered. Anything you buy outside the place you’re staying at will need to be paid for with extra cash.
And while you might think that staying at an all-inclusive resort means you’re restricted to never stepping foot outside the grounds, you’d be wrong. Most allow you to come and go as you like and some organise day trips and excursions to local beauty spots and tourist attractions.
Of course, it’s important to look at the small print to see what’s not covered by the price of your all-inclusive holiday. This could include things like flights, transfers, gratuities for staff, childcare, wifi, internet usage and certain drinks.
5. Take a staycation in the UK
As flights become more expensive, it’s tempting to avoid the hassle of flying and stay in the UK instead.
The biggest issue with doing that, for most people, especially sun lovers, is the weather. It’s just not as predictable as typical tourist destinations like Spain, Portugal and Greece where you’re guaranteed sun all through the summer.
But if you’re prepared to take a chance, here are some tips for saving money on a holiday in the UK.
- Go camping – see above.
- Try to do as many things as you can “off-peak” or “low season” when the prices are cheaper.
- Visit locations that have lots of free (or cheap) visitor attractions such as museums, parks and beaches.
- Download apps that track special offers and savings for the places you intend to visit or the activities you want to do when you arrive.
- When eating out, take advantage of offers such as “buy one get one free” or “kids eat free”.
- Book everything in advance and ask for a discount when you do so.
- Instead of eating in restaurants every night, look for alternatives like beach barbecues (if you can’t find an organised one, do your own), street food stalls and evening picnics.
- Depending on what you’ve been doing all day and how hungry you are, a quick visit to a local supermarket or convenience store for end-of-day deals might yield some tasty food.
- Check out the Too Good To Go app for stores that offer cheap or free food every day that they don’t want to waste.
- Travel to your destination by train and book well in advance so you get the cheapest tickets.
6. Get on the email marketing list of holiday companies
Holiday and travel companies send out emails containing special offers and discounts all the time. Sometimes before they’re added to their websites or advertised anywhere else. So being on the mailing list gives you an advantage.
Sadly, many holiday and travel companies bombard you with offers so it’s easy to become blind to them. To help avoid that, if you’re able, sign up for a mailing list that promotes the specific offers you’re interested in such as cheap flights, cheap train fares or certain types of holidays.
I also recommend creating or using an email address for the sole purpose of accepting these offers. If you don’t you’ll end up with an inbox full of spam and emails you don’t want.
Checking these emails each day will soon become a chore, so set up a forwarder to forward the emails to your main account.
This is easy to do but the method varies depending on the email provider.
Here’s the process for Gmail.
- Click the gear icon in the top right corner of your Gmail account, and select “See all settings”.
- In the Forwarding and POP/IMAP tab, select “Add a forwarding address”.
- Type in the email address you want to forward to and click “Next”.
- A verification email will be sent to that email address. Follow the steps in that email to confirm the forwarding address.
- In the Forwarding and POP/IMAP tab, select “Forward a copy of incoming mail to” and choose the email address you just added from the drop-down menu.
- Select “Keep Gmail’s copy in the Inbox” or “Archive Gmail’s copy” as desired.
- Click on “Save Changes”
7. Follow your favourite travel and holiday companies on social media
This is similar to the previous suggestion. The idea is to be there when offers, discounts and special deals are announced so you can quickly grab the ones that interest you.
Some companies focus on one or two social platforms so you’ll need to check which ones your favourite companies are using. And you’ll need to use it too.
The two most popular platforms, I would suggest, are Facebook and Instagram simply because everyone’s on Facebook and Instagram is perfect for posting pictures of amazing destinations and activities.
8. House swap
While house-swapping isn’t quite the norm and won’t be suitable for many families, it makes it onto this list because it’s gaining in popularity and might be a good idea for you.
After all, you’ll save a lot of money on two of the most expensive things when you go on holiday: accommodation and food.
So how does house swapping work?
Very simply – you pay a fee to join an online service that connects you with like-minded homeowners, you list your property and then look for people to swap homes with.
9. Stay at home and take day trips
While all the previous ideas involve travelling to another destination to enjoy a holiday, could you stay at home and enjoy one?
Sure you could.
Back in the not-too-distant past, it was perfectly normal for families to stay at home during the summer holidays. Often, they’d go out for day trips to local beaches, towns/cities and tourist attractions instead of flying abroad or driving to the other side of the country.
Back then, it was the ultimate way to save money on holidays. It isn’t quite the same today because a day out to a theme park or zoo in your local area can cost a small fortune for a family of four.
Taking a day trip every day during a seven-day holiday could work out expensive and it will certainly be tiring. So during those seven days, you could stay at home every other day and chill in the garden with a good book while the kids mess about in the paddling pool or play out with friends (ban screens for the week!).
The UK is an amazing place with thousands of places to visit. If you think about it, I’m sure you can find three or four exciting locations within a 50-mile radius of your home you could visit during your week’s holiday.