Holidays count as one of our most significant annual expenses – whether you’re going to Hastings or Hawaii it’s very easy to run up an enormous bill. Travel, accommodation, food, and other cash you spend while you’re away. We all want to make sure that we get the best from our holiday experience each year but it doesn’t have to cost a fortune to have a great time. Below are some useful tips on how to save money on holiday.
Go where the deals take you
If you’re looking to save cash, but get the best that you can for what you have, then be flexible about the details. If you’re willing to search for something like ‘a sun holiday in a four star hotel near the beach’ then you will have a much wider range of choice than being location or hotel specific. Hotels and travel companies need to fill empty spaces and will drop their prices to do so now that we’re in June so make the most of these discounts and get them where they are available.
Fly at night
The cheapest flights are those at the most awkward hours – that’s no secret. If you’re planning a short haul trip then work out whether it’s feasible for you to make a journey at an unsociable hour to take advantage of a much cheaper flight. Airport hotels come in useful as they can be as little as £15 a night and mean that you’re on site at the airport, rather than struggling to wake up, get everyone out of the house and get on the move in the early hours.
If you opt for a self catering apartment or villa that doesn’t mean you need to spend every day slaving over a hot stove. However, it does give you the option of making meals at home to keep costs down. Even if that’s just heating up a tin of soup or having somewhere to make a salad or a sandwich, you can save precious pennies by giving yourself the option, especially if you have a lots of mouths to feed.
Arrange a home swap
Free accommodation is the ultimate money saver when it comes to keeping holiday costs down and arranging a home swap is a very “simple” way to do it. There are numerous websites through which you can arrange something like this (make sure they are genuine before going ahead) or you could offer to arrange the swap with friends living abroad, friends of friends, or work colleagues living in other locations. You don’t need to have a mansion or a beautiful country cottage for this to be successful, just a comfortable home with some travel or tourist benefits.
Rent out your home while you’re away
The 2016 equivalent of a home swap – while you’re sunning yourself on foreign shores, arrange to rent out your home as a B&B via a website like AirBnB. You could cover the entire cost of your trip in this way, not just saving cash but making it virtually free.
If you’re sightseeing then download a couple of location guide apps before you go rather than buying guidebooks or paying for expensive tours. Some of these apps even have their own commentary that you can listen to as you sightsee various locations, from Paris to Rome. There really is an app for everything now, from a torch to a local phrasebook – just make sure you can use the app without a 3G or 4G connection so that you don’t run up a big data bill on your smart phone while you’re away.
Eat like a local
If you spend a little time before you go looking into the local produce and dishes for the region you’re visiting then you can save money on food when you’re there. Inevitably, ‘foreign’ imported food costs more as it has travelled far further than a tomato grown in a greenhouse down the road. Eat the local specialities, drink the local beer and buy the local fruit, meat and vegetables to keep your food spend down and make sure you’re enjoying the best that the area has to offer.
Take public transport
Public transport can seem intimidating in another location but is always the cheapest and quickest way to get around. If you’re being offered expensive transfers from the airport look for a local bus service instead (there is always an airport bus) and if you’re sightseeing then avoid taxis and stick to trains and buses. You’ll see a lot more of the location this way and save money too.
Oliver Jones has written for Solution Loans since 2015. His passion for personal finance comes through in the 150+ blog posts he's written since that time. His talent for explaining all things money means he's covered topics as diverse as...Read more about Oliver Jones