Staying in five-star hotels is fantastic, but if you don’t have a five-star bank balance you’re going to need to do a bit more thinking when it comes to planning your holiday.
Thankfully, there are a few things that you can do to cut your holiday costs without ruining your holiday. This might mean you have a bit more spending money in your pocket while you’re away, or it could even make the difference between being able to afford a holiday or having to stay at home.
1) Think About When You Go
It’s more expensive to go on holiday at certain times, so if you’re on a budget, avoid the expensive times if possible.
School holidays are the obvious dates to avoid unless you have kids, but remember that other countries have their school holidays – and other public holidays – on different dates. It’s worth finding out whether your planned holiday clashes with those dates and if it does, pick different dates.
It can also make a huge difference if you go a few weeks earlier or a few weeks later if that means you’re not travelling during the peak season.
When you travel will also affect how much you’ll have to pay. It can actually work out cheaper if you travel a day earlier or later to avoid flying on a weekend and pay for extra nights in the hotel. This also means that you get a longer holiday.
2) Think About Where You Stay
The most expensive hotel in the resort may well be the best hotel in the resort but it won’t necessarily represent the best value for money. And let’s face it, many people are only really using a hotel as somewhere to sleep, so does it really matter if your hotel doesn’t have all of the bells and whistles?
Consider going for a cheaper hotel so you’ve got more cash for spending money. And think about getting a hotel on the outskirts of the resort. Although that’ll mean you might have to pay for a taxi to take you into the resort each day that could still work out cheaper than staying somewhere more central.
Also, do you need to pay for an “all inclusive” deal if you’re mostly going to be eating and drinking in cafés, bars and restaurants elsewhere in the resort? Quite often people who pay for an “all inclusive” deal end up paying for something that they don’t actually use.
3) Book Early – Or Book Late
Generally speaking, the earlier you book, the cheaper the price. Most companies offer “early bird” deals or other incentives to persuade you to part with your money. You can also haggle with a travel agent if you’re booking early because they’ll know that you have more than enough time to go elsewhere if they aren’t prepared to do you a deal.
But booking at the last minute can also mean you get a bargain price, particularly if you can be flexible about where you go. If a hotel’s got empty rooms it’s better for that hotel to have you staying in one of those rooms even if you’re only paying half price for that room rather than to leave it empty. Airlines don’t like flying with empty seats, either.
Bear in mind that if you leave it until the last minute you cannot guarantee that what you want will be available and your choice will be limited. But that can actually result in a better holiday because it could force you to expand your horizons and go to somewhere different rather than doing your standard “two weeks in Benidorm” thing year after year.
4) Travel With a Friend
It’s normally a lot more expensive if you’re a solo traveller than it is if you’re travelling as a couple. Most hotels will charge almost the same for a single room as they will for a double or twin room. That doesn’t mean you can upgrade to a larger room. If you book a double or twin room and it’s just you staying in that room they’ll almost certainly charge a single occupancy supplement.
Having said that, if you can find a friend that wants to go on holiday with you, you can share a twin room and split the costs. If you’re hiring a car you can also split the hire charge and the cost of fuel as well. Plus, sometimes it’s fun to have someone to share your holiday with you.
If you’re brave you can find someone to join you via Gumtree or even Tinder. But it’s probably safer to invite the people that you already know first.
5) Travel Sensibly
Unless you’re planning to go off the beaten track, most places have a really good public transport system. That public transport system is almost always cheaper than using taxis or hiring a car unless there’s a few of you travelling in a group.
Generally, you’ll be able to find information about that local public transport system online. Don’t forget that Google can translate web pages for you so even if the information’s in a language that you don’t understand, that won’t be a problem.
Doing your research before you travel can save you a decent chunk of cash once you’re on your holiday.
6) Follow the Locals
Most tourist resorts exist to extract money from tourists. That’s completely understandable. It’s how they earn their money, after all. But there’s often a difference between the prices that the locals pay and the prices that the tourists pay.
If you want to make your spending money go further, seek out the cafés, bars and restaurants that the locals are using rather than the places that are full of tourists. Those places will almost always be considerably cheaper and the experience will usually be more authentic as well.
You’ll also do yourself a favour if you learn a bit of the local language. You don’t need to be fluent, but knowing how to say “hello”, “I’d like a coffee/beer”, “please” and “thanks” could well result in the bill being 10% lower.
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