It’s holiday time and no cash in the bank for a five star all inclusive holiday. What to do? Do not despair; there are other holidays that don’t necessarily break the bank. First of all, make your mind up whether you are staying in the country or whether you wish to go abroad. Set a budget before you start planning your holiday, that way you know what you have to adhere to when booking hotels, flights, campsites etc. If you don’t have to go on holiday whilst school is out, then don’t. It is much cheaper to holiday when the kids are back in school again.
If you decide to go abroad then try using last minute deals to book flights and hotels. You can get some fantastic deals if you just have the guts to wait as close as possible to your planned holiday dates. There are several websites that can help you find good deals at the last minute, a well known one is www.lastminute.com.
If you are travelling with children then do some research as to what nappies, baby food etc. costs where you are going. It might be cheaper to bring some from home to save costs when you get there. Some countries are very expensive, some are very cheap on these products; it’s worth doing your homework here. When you book a place to stay, if it is not all inclusive; don’t stay in hotels. An apartment leaves you with much more room to cater for yourself, and saves you a heap of money. It is worth making some of your meals at home so you don’t eat out three times a day. If you are staying at a hotel after all, make the most of breakfast. Make a packed lunch to bring with you for the day, that way you don’t have to buy lunch. Keep fizzy drinks to a minimum. They are often really expensive in comparison to water and usually only makes you thirstier. So, have water first, then you don’t have to buy so many drinks. When drinking alcoholic drinks, most countries have a local brew, if you like it then go for it. Local alcohol is guaranteed cheaper! Find a bigger supermarket, the small local ones on the corner often hike up the prices for tourists.
Go sightseeing for free. If you do some research before you leave you will know what you want to see when you get to your destination, and what it will cost to get in to the museums, water parks etc. you wish to visit. There are many free options and these may be just as good as some of the ones you pay for. Use your feet or public transport to get from A to B. Although taxies may seem cheap, they are usually not as cheap as public transport, and a lot of taxi rides can soon add up to be more than you had planned for. Best of all, of course, is to try to walk the places you want to go.
If you decide to holiday at home, camping is a good option. It is a cheaper way to stay than hotels. However, if camping isn’t your style, then cheap hotels are at hand. Of course you can use last minute deals here as well, but chains like Travelodge (www.travelodge.co.uk) and Premier inn (www.premierinn.com) have excellent deal all over the country. Same rules apply to food as when you are abroad; try not to eat all your meals out. For example, it might be cosy to have a picnic in your hotel room. Go to a supermarket and buy some nibbles, food and wine, and bring it to your room; it’s both a cheap and romantic way to eat. You can also look into renting a holiday home. If you are bringing the family this may be a better option as you have more freedom than in a hotel.
Regardless of where you go, avoid tourist shops, restaurants in sightseeing places and in general anything aimed at tourists. I know it can be hard to look past the bazaars or to eat your packed lunch in the water park, but it saves you a lot of money. Pick your battles, don’t try to avoid everything that costs money as you won’t enjoy your holiday at all, but only pick a few of the things you most want to do. Be aware of the prices and don’t hide behind the ‘but we are on holiday’ mantra. You can enjoy yourself without spending a fortune, as long as you plan and keep an eye on what goes where. Remember it is often the little things that add up, so maybe limit your kids to one ice cream a day instead of two. You won’t believe how much that will save you!