For many people in these austere times, having a holiday can put a serious dent into already stretched savings. However, enjoying cheap holidays in 2013 and beyond that ensure you get that much needed break without breaking the bank are very much possible if you follow a few simple steps when planning your trip.
1. Location, location, location
Deciding where you want to go is undoubtedly the hardest part of booking a holiday. It is also one of the most crucial from a money saving point of view as it affects everything that follows, from the cost of the flight out there to the exchange rate when you’re paying for meals and activities during your trip.
The Post Office regularly publishes reports on the best value destinations based on the cost of living and currency rates.
2. Cheap flights
Once you’ve chosen your destination, you can then set about finding the cheapest flights possible. Use a budget airline for short haul flights and try to fit everything you need into a cabin bag so that you don’t need to pay to check-in luggage. You can also save cash by not paying for priority boarding, which is often not needed if you arrive at the gate in plenty of time and are at the front of the queue.
When you’re at the airport, pick up bottles of water and snacks once you’ve cleared security, saving you money on buying them in flight.
3. Budget rooms
Often it can be tempting to splash out on a lavish hotel room with all the mod cons, but if you consider how much time you’re actually going to spend in your room, you’re probably better off going for something basic and comfortable. As long as your room is quiet and the bed is decent, you’ll enjoy your holiday just as much as if you had a plasma TV on the wall and a rain shower.
Look to see if you can book your flights and hotel as a package, which can save you money and consider going self catered if you’re happy to cook your own meals.
4. Value for money activities
If you’ve chosen your destination wisely, you’ll hopefully be able to enjoy activities everyday that won’t cost you a thing. Walks in the mountains, sunbathing on the beach and swimming in the sea are all pastimes you can partake in for free.
Museums and galleries often represent good value for money – regular exhibitions are frequently free – and renting bikes is another excellent way to explore a place that doesn’t involve hiring a car or paying for taxi rides.
5. Avoid added costs
When you’re concentrating on making big savings on flights and hotels, it’s all too easy to forget about smaller things that can eat into your budget. Check with your bank before you travel to avoid getting stung by fees, ask your phone company to set you up on a holiday tariff so that you don’t run up a high roaming bill and think about buying hire car insurance separately, as the providers’ rates are much higher.
If you think carefully about each of these elements – location, flights, hotel, activities and extras – you should be able to enjoy a low-cost getaway that won’t leave you in the red.