Financially, times are tough at the moment, and if your family is anything like mine, you’re always looking about for ways to spend less. Thankfully, when it comes to travel, there are quite a few ways to have a great time on a budget. Some of the best tricks mean that you have to plan well ahead, but advance planning is a good idea in any case since things do book up fast, especially during peak travel season.
Travel during off-peak times
I always try to start my holiday on a Tuesday so that I can help the family pack on my first day off and we can start traveling on Wednesday. This tip alone can easily save large families hundreds of pounds since planes and trains are busiest – and most expensive at the weekend.
Hotels, tour companies, and even restaurants are making greater efforts than ever before to compete for your business. A good way to get started finding the deals is to sign up for electronic newsletters offered by your favourite hotels and restaurants. You might be surprised at the bargains that come your way once you’re on a customer email list!
You should also visit travel blogs and forums, and don’t forget to regularly check the Twitter and Facebook pages of hotels and restaurants that you like. These are all places where marketing departments might post coupons, discount codes, or contests. A final way to find bargains is to purchase an “entertainment coupon book” for the area you intend to visit. These frequently contain 2-for-1 discounts or other excellent deals on lodging, dining, and even sightseeing.
Eat in more
One of the easiest ways to overspend on a holiday is to take your family out to breakfast, lunch, and dinner each day. In my family, we go shopping each morning and buy food for both breakfast and lunch. Croissants and fruit work well for breakfast – they can even be purchased the night before since they need no refrigeration. Lunch is usually a picnic in a shady park instead of a restaurant meal. This saves enough money so that you can actually splurge on dinner instead of having fast food three times in one day. If you rent a house instead of hotel rooms, it’s even easier to eat in and save money.
Choose an affordable destination
Some foreign cities are more expensive than others, and it isn’t difficult to determine which ones are the most affordable. Hotel prices, widely posted online, will give you a reliable way to compare. Foreign exchange rates can also work in your favour if you pick a country whose currency is considered “weak” compared to the British pound.
Bulgaria is a great example of this. Sofia, Bulgaria’s capital, can be relatively expensive, but less than an hour away you can find one of my favourite spots, Hotel Riu in Pravets. Set on a stunning lake which truly looks breath taking in the morning, the hotel and resort is absolutely faultless with friendly English-speaking staff, top class facilities, immaculately clean accommodation and a wonderful range of food at the hotel’s buffet for a budget price. The location is the perfect base to explore the surrounding area. Venture out into some of the village restaurants and you’ll be surprised at just how little it costs to wine and dine.
Saving before the trip
It’s easier to economise during your holiday if you’re already in the habit. Start now by bringing lunch to work each day and banking the difference. Drinking the office coffee instead of indulging in a latte can also help build up your holiday fund – I know from experience that every little bit helps!
Last but not least, don’t underestimate the importance of getting the best deal on airline tickets. Go to a discount travel site like http://www.expedia.co.uk/ to see the kinds of low prices now available.
Written by Duncan for travelistic.co.uk, updated.