Guest Post for ihearttravel
It’s not been easy finding the money to take a well-earned holiday during the economic downturn of the past couple of years.
But with a little bit of good planning and lateral thinking, there are plenty of easy ways to save some cash and stretch your holiday budget that extra bit more.
It really can make a big difference if you book your air travel and accommodation well in advance. Settle on a destination and bag yourself cheap flights by buying months before you intend to fly. Of course, the “fly for free” or “fly for £1” budget airline offers can be slightly misleading, as you end up paying other fees and taxes, but you do save big money by being an early bird. Sometimes you can also get a discount with hotels for advance bookings, so it’s always worth asking.
Surf the net
The internet really does make a difference now when booking a holiday. Taking a little time to shop around for the best deals on cheap travel insurance, flights, accommodation, car parking and all the other added extras really does knock £s off the price you pay. Sign up to airline and travel company enewsletters so you’re always first to find out about great special offers and bargain discounts.
Choose departure dates carefully
From painful personal experience, you pay a premium for flying on a Friday, Saturday or Sunday. Unless you are purposely planning a weekend break, try and get a midweek flight as they can cost you up to four times less.
Save money by going for longer
Have a good think about where you really want to go. Compared to the UK, the price of living in some countries, like Turkey or Thailand, means that you’ll actually be spending a lot less money than you would be spending at home. A fortnight away outside the Euro zone can often cost less than a weekend break in more expensive places.
Arrange airport parking
Let’s face it, if you turn up at the airport on your departure day, not only will you most likely be left scrambling around to find an empty parking space, you’ll also end up paying a small fortune. Do a little bit of prior research to see if there any cheap local alternatives. Some hotels provide fairly inexpensive long-term car parking, with the added bonus that most of them are well policed by onsite security.
Food for thought
Rather than eating out every night at expensive restaurants, why not try self catering? You can pick up so many delicacies at bargain prices from local stores and supermarkets. Who knows, you might even come up with a delicious new recipe that you can look forward to cooking again and again when you return home.
Or if you don’t fancy all that work involved with cooking, think about making lunch your main meal of the day. A lot of restaurants and pubs have fantastic value for money lunch deals like two for the price of one or starter, main and dessert for just the cost of the main course. Go back later in the evening when there’s more trade and you’ll end up paying more money for the same food.
Give hotel restaurants a miss
This might be a tad unfair or a bit of a sweeping generalisation, but for me hotel food tends to be rather expensive and bland, although of course it does get top marks for convenience. Unless your resort happens to be stuck in the middle of nowhere, you are always likely to find a cheaper, and in most cases a more palatable meal, a short walk away from your hotel.
Make your own way around
Taxi prices can very quickly add up, especially if you are unlucky enough to end up with an unscrupulous driver who will take you on a nice long “scenic route” and charge you for the privilege! See if you can do most of your sightseeing on foot or maybe even think about hiring a bicycle. Some of my most memorable travel experiences have been when I’ve stumbled (sometimes literally) upon hidden delights that were slightly off the usual well worn tourist track.
Mind your mobile bills
Pay close attention to your mobile phone contract and the charges you’ll face when using it abroad. One time on a trip to Hungary, I found myself getting hit with massive charges for receiving as well as making telephone calls. If you are planning on being abroad a while on maybe a gap year or backpacking trip, buying a local SIM card can also help you cut your phone bills.
Guest post from Chris Owens of the travel insurance team at Moneysupermarket.com