Looking to save money on holiday this year?
It is fine to be a little indulgent when on holiday. You deserve to have a good time, which can often mean letting the money flow a little more freely than usual.
Yet, holidays are no fun if you return feeling stressed, upset or guilty about how much you have spent. If you want to save money on holiday, here are 29 things to do:
Preparation: planning a holiday
Go all inclusive
All inclusive holidays may be a little more expensive than standard hotel stays, but your meals, drinks and snacks are typically included.
Overall, unless you are great at scrimping and saving, having your meals and drinks covered should save money on your holiday.
Adjust your flight times
Could you save money by travelling at a different time? The less popular flights, typically early in the morning or towards the evening (though not late enough to be classed as overnight, which can be desirable), are usually sold at lower prices.
Alter your travel dates
If you have not yet booked accommodation, see how much you could save by flying one day earlier or later. You may be surprised by the price difference.
Choose an indirect flight
Indirect flights, with a change in an en-route destination, can cut costs significantly.
Check prices a few times
Holiday prices fluctuate by the hour and by the day. Check at different times and ideally on different days to try and find the best deal.
Use price comparison sites
There are price comparison websites for hotels, flights and other travel essentials. Use these for reference. It may be cheaper to find the best deal on a comparison site, then go direct to the provider.
Select a different departure airport
If you are travelling abroad and taking the plane, compare prices of flights from different airports. If you live within reach of two, you may find that one is notably cheaper than the other.
Be careful about added extras
Providers of holiday products and services, from flights to hotels, will do what they can to make money. This can often involve upselling or promoting extras that you do not really need – such as like priority boarding.
Compare the costs of hotel essentials
Things that some consider a luxury – like a WiFi connection or gym access – can be essentials for other people. If something is essential for you, see how much extra it will cost. It may be included in the price at another nearby hotel.
Consider a house swap
If you are planning a holiday in the UK, consider a house swap.
You may be able to switch with a trusted friend that would also like a break from daily life.
House swaps completely remove accommodation costs. You are also likely to find that everything you need is included, from toys for the kids to specialist kitchen utensils that most holiday cottages do not have.
It is also possible to swap your house with someone that you do not know, though there are some risks involved.
By doing a house swap, you could enjoy a very cheap holiday.
Pitch a tent
Holidaymakers that are happy to get away from it all can escape to a peaceful campsite, with their trusty tent, for as little as £5 per night.
Camping is not for everyone, but if you can give up a few home comforts then your bank balance will thank you for it.
How to save money on holiday
Buy your own food
Visit the local grocery store, rather than paying for hotel food.
If your airline charges for meals on the plane, pack your own sandwiches and save yourself some money.
Watch out for roaming charges
Using your mobile phone abroad can result in a big bill when you return. Be aware of the costs of calls, texts and internet usage.
Travel on foot
Where possible, walk. Travelling by taxi can be tempting when you don’t know the area well, but could be an unnecessary expense if you are within walking distance of your destination.
Evaluate hire car cost
Hiring a car is often cheaper than making use of public transport. A hire car also provides much more flexibility.
Hire car prices are often increased by all sorts of additions and extra charges. Factor all of these costs into your calculation.
Do not purchase packaged insurance
Car hire companies may offer their own insurance. It is convenient to add it to your car hire package, but often significantly cheaper to buy insurance separately elsewhere.
The same may apply to other forms of insurance on holiday.
Do not make purchases at travel hubs
Everything costs more at the airport. This also applies at motorway service stations. Where possible, buy what you need in advance or come off the motorway and make your way into the nearest town.
Know the rules of the road
Knowing the rules of the road in your destination country can save you from charges and fines.
For example, did you know that the speed limit outside built-up areas in France will drop during times of wet weather? The biggest speed limit decrease is on a toll motorway, where you can drive at 80mph during dry weather but must go no faster than 68mph in the rain.
Many countries issue on the spot fines for speeding.
Purchase travel passes
If you prefer to use public transport such as the metro/subway, bus or train, look for unlimited travel passes (day passes, or multiple day passes), which usually work out cheaper than paying for individual trips.
Use ID cards
Have your ID and membership cards with you at all times. You may be able to claim a student, senior citizen, military or healthcare worker discount.
Visit free attractions
Free attractions, including museums, can be informative and enjoyable. You do not need to visit expensive theme parks to fill your holiday itinerary.
Do not let the minibar tempt you
Minibars are typically quite expensive. If you can motivate yourself to leave your hotel, you will usually find the same items at a much lower price in a shop.
Be aware that looking can cost. Many minibars are fitted with sensors so that removed items are automatically charged to your room bill, even if you later return them.
Look, but do not touch. Better yet – avoid looking!
Plan your breakfasts carefully
It is usually cheaper to leave the hotel and find a local café, or even the nearest fast food restaurant, instead of booking on a B&B basis. Hotel breakfasts are often available at very inflated prices.
Despite this, it is well worth weighing up the comparative costs. If the hotel breakfast is a buffet style offering, then it may be possible to fill up so that you do not need to buy lunch later on. If a buffet breakfast is on offer, are you comfortable eating as much as possible and could you save money on your other daily meals?
Check that the water is safe
In some countries, it is recommended that you do not drink the tap water. In others, it is perfectly fine to do so.
Do not assume. Check how safe the tap water is. If it is not going to harm you, save money by drinking from the taps rather than buying expensive bottled water. You can also ask for tap water in restaurants, if you would like to reduce your bill.
Escape tourist hubs
Tourists are charged a premium. Prices are higher in popular areas, and traders raise their prices for unsuspecting holidaymakers.
By leaving the most popular tourist areas and travelling off the beaten track (safety taken into account), you will find a more authentic experience with much lower prices for your food, drink and souvenirs.
Understand tipping expectations
In the US, restaurant tips are not usually included on the bill. It is customary to tip at least 15% of the value of the bill, though even this is considered fairly low. In most places, you should expect to tip 20%.
In many other countries, particularly across Europe, the tip is included in the total on the bill. This will be displayed, but might not be immediately clear. Check the bill carefully.
Limit ATM withdrawals
When withdrawing cash you are typically charged per transaction, which means that you can avoid excessive fees and charges by withdrawing everything that you need in one go. Make as few withdrawals as possible.
It is better to withdraw cash for your holiday than to pay on card in shops, bars and restaurants. You should keep transactions to a minimum.
Be careful. Do not store all of your money in the same place, or carry it all around with you.
Design your own excursions
Tours and excursions can be valuable if you are looking to maximise your exposure to local knowledge. However, they usually come at significant cost.
Seeing the sights on your own will enable you to take things at the perfect pace. Self-guided tours are also significantly cheaper.
How to save money when your holiday ends
Do not buy expensive souvenirs
A small, token gift will be enough to remember your holiday by (if you need a souvenir at all). This should be something unique to the location, such as a postcard or badge.
Expensive souvenirs are great if you have the money available, but can be wasteful if you are trying to save money on holiday.
Many people buy items that they could just as easily purchase close to home, or online, where they would actually be a lot cheaper.