If you’re craving a break but feeling the squeeze, don’t panic. It’s possible to travel on a budget without compromising on quality
While we’d all love to have that perfect annual holiday, the reality is that many of us can struggle to get by on a month-to-month basis, which makes it hard to save for a holiday. But as they say – when there’s a will, there’s a way, and that way is being smart with your money by trying to make small savings on every aspect of your holiday – both before you book and once you’re there. With this in mind, we put together 21 great tips that could save you a substantial amount of money.
1. Choose your destinations wisely
If you’ve got an idea of the region or climate where you want your holiday to be, consider looking at places that offer the same experience but often at a cheaper rate. Take, for example, Seychelles. It is a popular destination that many people want to go to and therefore it commands a premium; but you’ll find that Mauritius (which sits 1,755km or 1,091 miles south of Seychelles) can offer almost as much – and at a cheaper price.
2. Be flexible with dates and times
Choosing to go during the off-season is a given, but being flexible with dates and times are a bonus too. For instance, if you are looking to travel from London to Belize City, statistics show that travelling on Wednesday is often cheapest, while night flights tend to be cheaper than day flights if you are travelling from Europe to Asia.
Summer is the peak season throughout the northern hemisphere and therefore, expect higher prices. If you live in Europe and want to take a holiday during the summer holiday period, try flying south where the weather is colder (the southern hemisphere enjoys its winter season from June to September) and prices are cheaper. Alternatively, as most families tend to go early during the summer months, the back-end of the holiday period is often quieter and therefore, cheaper.
3. Compare flights
When you have decided on where to go, the next step is to compare flights between different providers. On World Travel Guide, we have a flight comparison tool powered by SkyScanner which shows you the best and cheapest options available.
4. Consider indirect flights
This is a tough one to include. While it is true that indirect flights are usually cheaper than direct flights, they contribute more carbon emissions because planes burn the most fuel during take-off. Plus, you often have to wait for hours at the stopover airport which isn’t anyone’s idea of a dream holiday. Consider indirect flights only if the savings are substantial.
5. Consider skiplagging
Airlines hate this, so much so that Lufthansa tried to sue a passenger who had booked a return flight from Oslo to Seattle with a stopover in Frankfurt according to this court document filed in December 2018. On the return flight, the passenger flew from Seattle to Frankfurt with Lufthansa but got off at Frankfurt and flew to Berlin with another ticket.
Skiplagging means you book flights to a destination with a stopover somewhere and you get off during the stopover, choosing to only complete part of the journey.
6. Compare hotels
Simplify the process of finding a hotel with the best prices by checking out a few hotel comparison sites. Don’t discount budget hotels or hostels either – in Europe, particularly the Scandinavian countries, budget hotels and hostels tend to be stylish with all the modern comforts.
7. Book last minute
An alternative to booking quite far in advance is to book things last minute when providers try to fill vacancies. It must be said that package tour operators and hotels are more likely to give last-minute discounts than airlines.
Before snapping up a last-minute deal, make sure that the destination doesn’t require a travel visa. If a visa is needed, ensure you can obtain one in time or on arrival. On World Travel Guide, all the country guides list the visa requirements of each country. For example, check out the passport and visa requirements for Cuba or the passport and visa requirements for the USA for the relevant information.
And while you’re at it, make sure your passport hasn’t expired.
8. Subscribe to newsletters
Many travel companies reward their loyal customers by telling them about any savings or deals via newsletters, so consider signing up to a few that interest you.
We understand how annoying it can be to receive several emails a day about deals and savings, even if it is for a more affordable holiday. One way to combat this is to set up a new email address specifically for these travel deals; this way, your primary email address won’t be flooded with too many emails.
9. All-inclusive package tours
Sometimes it can be cheaper to experience a location as part of a package tour. The term “all-inclusive” refers to a deal that rolls your airfare, accommodation and meals into a single rate. If you aren’t too bothered about the lack of flexibility to do what you want, then an all-inclusive package is definitely a wise option.
10. Keep an eye on your mobile costs
Let’s face it, everyone travels with a phone but none of us wants to pay excessive roaming costs. Within Europe, the current telco agreements allow you to use your data allowance in any EU country. But if you are travelling to places like Guernsey and Jersey (they are self-governing British Crown dependencies but they are not part of the UK or EU), then put your phone on ‘Airplane Mode’ because roaming charges are substantial.
Countries in Asia have extensive mobile coverage and it pays to purchase a local SIM card. Once you touch down in countries like Malaysia, Thailand or Vietnam, you will see passengers making a beeline to telco providers in arrival halls; you should follow suit.
If a local SIM card is out of the question, then turn on ‘Airplane Mode’ and rely solely on Wi-Fi.
11. Out-smart the ATMs
If you are still making a special trip to the money charger before your holidays, consider using a prepaid debit card from an online bank that offers you attractive exchange rates when you withdraw money from a local ATM at the destination.
When the ATM asks you whether or not you want to convert your money, always select the ‘without conversion’, ‘no conversion’ or ‘debit in local currency’ options. This means that your card operator will run the conversion and not the ATM operator.
12. Work as you travel
If you want to take an extended break, then a great way of paying your way on a budget is by working as you travel. Regions in South America and the Far East are hotspots for English teachers. TEFL and CELTA are examples of companies offering both accreditation and opportunities to potential teachers.
In this post “The 10 best cities for digital nomads”, we share great cities where you can work and travel inexpensively.
13. Book an airport hotel and car parking together
Parking your car at the airport while you are away can be expensive but using a peer-to-peer parking app, you can rent a parking space from a private individual, thereby reducing the cost.
Alternatively, check if any of the airport hotels offer great park-and-stay deals. This arrangement is common in the US – they even give you a ride to the airport – but less popular in Europe and Asia.
14. Don’t pay extra when you don’t need to
Saving a little here and there can quickly add up – especially when it comes to your flight. Airlines will try to push additional extras such as priority boarding and seat selection. Travellers are becoming savvy and refuse to pay for such options even if they travel as a couple or in a group. Instead, they swap seats with fellow passengers once they are on board.
Additionally, enjoy a nice meal before you get to the airport. Airport and airline food and drink are significantly marked up, so avoid these extra costs if you can.
15. Keep your baggage light
Excess luggage charges can be rather expensive, so avoid any chance of them by packing light. Do this by weighing your bags at home to ensure they stay within the limit with ease.
16. Organise your own outings
Joining organised local tours is a great way to see a new location, but it is often possible to create your own tour and save money in the process.
For example, instead of joining a bicycle tour in Copenhagen, rent a bike and explore the destination on your own. The bike share scheme (Bycyklen) offers electronic bikes with a touchscreen tablet on the handlebars which can be used for navigation and payment. Before you go, you can have a look at the Copenhagen travel guide for more information.
Or instead of spending £50 going on a beer tour in London, spend 30 minutes looking for great pubs that you might like and do your own pub crawl. While we are on this subject, these articles London’s 12 best historic boozes and My secret London may be of interest to you.
17. Travel around by coach
While trains and taxis can be a great way to get around your holiday destination, often it is coaches and buses that are the cheapest way to navigate a city. This is also true if you want to visit another region or city while in the area.
For example, if you are in Tel Aviv and plan to visit Jerusalem, the best way is to take a coach from Tel Aviv’s Arlozorov bus terminal and pay cash to the driver.
18. Walk as much as you can
The cheapest form of transport while on holiday is, undoubtedly, walking. Many European cities like Dublin, Edinburgh and Vilnius are quite compact and, with a careful bit of planning, you can see most of the sights without ever having to take a bus, taxi or train.
The compact Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania, is a rewarding place to visit and this post Soaring over Vilnius, plus 14 other offbeat things to see and do in Vilnius is packed with useful tips.
19. Use a city or travel pass
If things are a little bit spread out, or you are unable to walk for long stretches, it might be worth buying a travel or sightseeing pass. They usually come with discounts to get into major sights, meaning they can be cheaper than paying for individual public transport and attraction tickets.
Amsterdam, for instance, offers tourists the Iamsterdam City Card which includes free travel on all buses, trams and metros within the city for 24, 48, 72 or 96 hours. The card also gives you access to numerous major sights. Talking about Amsterdam, you may like this 28 reasons to visit Amsterdam post, or if you are curious about Amsterdam coffeeshops, this post 10 of the best coffeeshops in Amsterdam makes a great read.
20. Don’t settle for expensive food and drink
Many travellers end up having meals and drinks at their hotels or around tourist hotspots; accordingly, they also pay a premium for them. Chances are, if you walk a few miles and explore the backstreets, prices usually drop.
In Singapore for instance, ordering a small bottle of Tiger Beer along Orchard Road, the prime shopping district, can cost you at least S$8 (US$6 or £4.50). But once you walk towards Dhoby Ghaut and Rochor, you will find small food courts selling the same beer for a few dollars less. Speaking about Singapore, our Singapore travel guide is packed with useful travel tips which you can use to maximise your holiday in the city-state.
Water is another area where you can save money and reduce the environmental impact at the same time – instead of buying water bottles, travel with a reusable water bottle, as mentioned in this Responsible travel article.
21. Buy insurance
Recently when we updated the Spain travel guide, we wrote that a night spent in intensive care in Spain could cost €1,200 to €1,600 – our American readers think that this figure is highly affordable because the healthcare cost in the USA is staggering, but travellers from countries with free healthcare would argue that it is expensive.
The thing is, accidents happen so don’t get caught with unexpected healthcare expenses. Make sure you’re protected with travel insurance before making the journey.
Remember, a budget holiday is about saving a little here and there, but it all adds up to a bigger saving in the end if you are flexible.
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