“We’re all going on a summer holiday,” Cliff Richard crooned back in the day. But are we really? Austerity economics take no prisoners, and it may well be that your annual holiday budget is the first thing to go in an attempt to balance the household books. With family budgets getting ever more stretched, many of us simply can’t afford to put a large chunk of money away to pay for the annual jollies.
Going abroad this year may be out of the question this year, especially following the Brexit vote and recent fall in the value of the pound. But if you’re still yearning for a summer holiday, don’t despair. Whether you’re single, a couple or a family with kids, there are plenty of cheaper ways to have fun closer to home.
How about planning a staycation? This buzzword has been around for a few years now, and essentially means having a holiday at home. But let’s be clear: you don’t want to be spending your week off doing odd jobs and chores at home – that wouldn’t be relaxing at all. Treat it like a proper summer holiday and have a definite plan of nice things to do every day. Cinema or swimming pool trips, picnic in the park or BBQ party in the garden, long countryside walks, visiting friends, yoga workshops… you’ll be surprised how many fun things you can pack into a week off with a small budget and without having to go anywhere!
If you have a garden and love spending time perfecting it, now’s your chance. Make the most of the (hopefully) summery weather and combine fresh air with exercise as you get creative with an outdoor project. From organic vegetable gardening to building a pergola or putting a garden pond in, you’ll love the sense of achievement that comes from being able to relax with a cool beer at the end of an honest day’s work.
On the other hand, if you much prefer to admire other people’s handiwork and could do with a little inspiration for what to do with your garden, check out www.ngs.org.uk for a list of private gardens that the owners – who are typically enthusiastic gardeners – have decided to open to the public for charity. The National Gardens Scheme is active all over the country, so go along and take a look. Plant sales and refreshments including home made cakes are often available too.
If you love the great outdoors and the weather is on side, what about going camping? The British countryside is beautiful wherever you go, and there are affordable camp sites to suit all tastes and preferences – from new age yurts to fully fledged holiday parks offering all mod cons.
Get the tent down from the loft and pitch it in the garden to see if it’s still fit for purpose. Pack a few essentials, including cooking equipment, sun tan lotion (just in case!) and a good book or three. For extra levels of outdoor activity, how about combining camping with country walking or cycling? Plan your trip with the help of www.campsites.co.uk or www.ukcampsite.co.uk and head off into the wild for a few days.
If you are stuck at home without the funds to go on a summer holiday, chances are there are people elsewhere in the same situation. Wouldn’t it be great if we all clubbed together to swap homes? Wait, you can! Home exchange holidays allow you to live like a local in someone else’s home – for free!
Visit any number of holiday home swapping websites (try www.homeexchange.com, www.lovehomeswap.com or www.homelink.com) and arrange to stay for a weekend away, a 2-week holiday or even longer while someone else comes to look after your home in the same way. Saving money on expensive hotels while staying in the destination of your dreams… what’s not to like?
Want to go to a music festival this summer but are strapped for cash? Why not be an unpaid volunteer and help out with security, crowd monitoring and public information in exchange for a free ticket? For Camp Bestival, Bestival and The Secret Garden Party, look here. Or check here for Latitude, Leeds, Reading and V Festival South.
Charity & Community
You may prefer to give up your free time for a worthy cause. No problem – many charities and community organisations are crying out for support, so whether you’re interested in wildlife conservation, helping disabled children or baking cakes for a community event, there is bound to be a local opportunity near you.
Amanda Gillam is Solution Loans's General Manager and has been since 2009. She is also a prolific writer on personal finance issues, and has been quoted numerous times in articles published on 3rd party websites and in press releases. Her...Read more about Amanda Gillam