How to cut costs without compromising on fun (or sun)
With Covid restrictions lifted and spring fully springing, many of us are making plans for the months ahead and thinking about holidays.
Of course, holidays abroad come with a price tag. But whether you’re dreaming of a sun-soaked beach or a trip full of culture and adventure, there are lots of ways to keep costs down at every sandy or cobblestoned step.
Save big by booking early…or very lateOften the biggest costs of a holiday abroad are the travel and accommodation, and prices vary wildly depending on when you book.
The biggest savings can usually be made by booking really early, especially if you’re tied to the high season because of school term dates. It’s worth looking at least 6 months ahead, longer if you can. If you’re not set on a certain destination, booking just before you go can reward you with big last minute discounts too.
The more flexible you can be with travel time and which airport you fly from, the more choice you’ll get for lower cost options, whenever you book. Online tools like Sky Scanner and cheapflights make it easy to shop around for the best flight, hotel and car hire deals.
For even lower prices, look at the shoulder seasons – usually April/ May and September/ October. They’re often vastly cheaper than the main summer months, and with warm but not-so-scorching temperatures you can get your sunny fix at a fraction of the midsummer cost.
Broaden your horizons to a cheaper destination When it comes to holiday costs, destination makes a huge difference. Some countries have a higher cost of living than others and that’ll be reflected in everything, from accommodation prices to the day-to-day money spent on coffees, ice creams, supermarket essentials and meals out.
Fortunately, if it’s sun you’re looking for, you’ll find it shines on cheaper destinations too.
The Holiday Costs Barometer report from the Post Office is a brilliant way to compare how much you can expect to spend in different locations.
For 2022, Turkey is leading the list for the best-value holiday destination, with Bulgaria and the Algarve in Portugal following closely behind.
Know before you goOnce you’ve booked your holiday, you can make good use of your time beforehand by reading up on local places to visit.
Trip Advisor is full of inspiration and information about attractions and places of interest, along with reviews and helpful tips from people who’ve been there before.
While searching, look out for any discounts or special offers you can take advantage of by booking tickets ahead of time. With numbers of visitors still restricted by the pandemic in some places, you’ll avoid the disappointment of places being full when you arrive.
Shop around for the extra costs in your budgetAirport parking and holiday insurance can send your holiday costs spiraling. Give yourself time to compare lots of options and find the most affordable deals around.
Would a taxi be cheaper than paying to park? Is there long stay parking or a nearby parking service with a shuttle bus? Booking your parking spot early will often be cheaper than doing it last minute.
For insurance, are you looking at basic insurance policies or are you paying extra for cover you don’t really need? Comparison sites like Go Compare will help you find the right policy for your trip.
Think smart when it comes to currencyEven if you’re planning to use your credit card to pay for most things while you’re away, it’s a good idea to take some local currency for cash-only situations.
Airport exchange rates are usually higher than most places, so it’s best to get your cash early. Money Saving Expert’s comparison site lets you compare rates and find the best deal, and if you can collect your cash in person, you’ll also save on delivery charges.
When ordering your currency, it’s best to use a debit card, as credit card orders are considered as overseas cash withdrawals and often incur charges.
Avoid overspending before you goNew dress and sandals? An extra book? Sun cream and toiletries? These little extras can all add up.
If you know you’ll want to do some pre-holiday shopping, factor it into your budget so you don’t feel overstretched financially when the time comes.
Get off the beaten track to find better bargainsTourist restaurants are often the priciest in any town or resort. Take a stroll beyond the main tourist areas and you’re likely to stumble upon the more local bars and eateries. The prices are often more reasonable and you’ll get a more authentic experience of the food, language and ambience.
Want to spread the cost of your next holiday? Talk to us about our fair, affordable loans that are often cheaper than credit card borrowing.