Covid-19 cancelled many plans for many people, but now things are starting to show some semblance of normality, holidays are at the forefront of people’s minds. Even though going abroad is still largely out of the question – unless you are happy to risk potential costly isolation upon return – there are various staycations in the UK which still provide respite and relaxation from your day to day life. Whether it’s adventure or lazy beach days, finding the right holiday within the UK borders isn’t as hard as you might think. However, even though you aren’t leaving the country, a UK holiday can still be expensive, and many people underestimate just how much you need to save in advance.
Obviously, the best way to finance a holiday is by saving up in advance. It’s not always what you want to hear if you’re intending to book a last minute getaway, but preparation is key when it comes to any large expenses. If you already have a comfortable disposable income, why not start big and put half of it into savings for the next few months? You can then spend those savings, guilt free, on your holiday or days off. Once you get used to saving a set chunk of your wages each month, you’ll also find it easier to increase the amount if you have an upcoming expense and find you’ll be better protected against potential cashflow shortfall. You may find you need to borrow money less often for emergency payments that previously would have caused short term financial difficulty.
If your disposable income isn’t great, aim for half the amount anyway – you’ll just need a slightly longer timescale before you book your holiday, and you may need to make a few monthly adjustments depending on your upcoming financial commitments. You can also consider some easy saving tips like putting spare cash into a jar, using a round-up app for online purchases or simply cut out a common expense (like new clothes or weekend wine) and see how much you can save.
Having a great holiday on a budget might be easier than it sounds, and we’ve compiled a few tips to help you get away over the next year or two.
It’s easy to procrastinate and postpone saving plans: after all, living in the moment offers instant gratification which, as a society, we have come to expect. However, spending with little consideration for any potential future plans makes it difficult to accommodate expenses as they arise. While you may be able to squeeze out funds for small, unexpected payments, if you suddenly decide to go on holiday, it’s going to be much harder to finance it without some already-saved funds. Start saving as soon as possible — put £30 in savings right now if you can! Covid-19 may have had an impact on your finances, so the longer you allow yourself for saving towards something big, the more prepared you’ll be. The sooner you start saving — even if you don't have a specific goal right now — the easier it will be to accommodate future plans like holidays.
Often, holidays require a deposit to secure your booking, with the full payment due nearer the date. This is an easy way to budget for holiday expenses: you usually only need to spend £100 or maybe £200 when you book the holiday, and then you can save up the remaining amount over the next few months until the full balance is due. It allows you a little more room to adjust your budget and means you don't need to borrow the full amount of money for the holiday either.
Using a credit card for the deposit — even if you don't need to borrow the funds — gives you extra consumer protections in case something goes wrong with your holiday booking: for example, if the holiday provider goes into liquidation. Even though you have only paid the deposit on your credit card, you could claim the full amount of the holiday back (as long as the deposit is over £100). Check out our guide about credit cards which briefly discusses the potential refunds under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act.
If you're just wanting to get away for a few days, but Covid-19 put a strain on your finances, consider a group holiday either with family or friends. Of course, after a year of lockdowns, you may have had enough of your close family, so a trip with friends might offer all the change you need instead! A larger group tends to reduce the cost of accommodation per person. For example, if a lodge sleeps 6 and costs £300 per night, between you and a partner that would be £150 per person. However, if you got some friends together, and six of you went, the per night cost reduces to £50 per person, making it much more manageable for most people. Booking a holiday as a group doesn’t mean all the activities have to be done together. You can still have romantic evenings and some peace away from family or friends if you fancy — everyone is likely to understand and be in the same position.
If you’ve worked out a plan and you know you can afford a holiday, the next step is choosing one to suit you and your family! Beach holidays are surprisingly luxurious in the UK: Cornwall is a sought-after hotspot for staycations, as well as Devon and the coastline around the South-East. During peak season, however, these places can be very expensive – often costing the same or more than a week abroad! Try some lesser-known areas or consider staying a little more inland to avoid beach-front prices.
If you prefer a city break, there are still plenty of vibrant and culture-rich cities in the UK. London is an obvious one – with several free museums, it costs very little to explore and enjoy a few days away from work. But Liverpool, Manchester and Edinburgh all have their own attractions and can be cheaper than staying in the capital.
Beach holidays and city breaks tend to be two of the most commonly booked holidays, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t an array of other styles to find within our borders. Wales offers plenty of adventure activities like mountain climbing, ziplines and cave diving. There is peace to be found in the isles around Scotland and several places in mainland England – including the Lake District and the Cotswolds, for example – allow you a breath of fresh air and some peace to match breaks in Portugal and France.
The last 15 months have been hellish for a lot of people: other than lockdowns and loss of income, many people lost loved ones to the virus. As we start towards a more recognisable way of life, it will be hard to forget how unforgiving Covid-19 was for many families, but now we are on the home-straight and getting back to normal feels within reaching distance.
It’s important to remain aware of the restrictions and not give up too soon: while most adults are vaccinated, Covid-19 is still transferrable, and we can still become ill. The summer sun means we can enjoy being outside in the fresh air, so make the most of it and avoid closed spaces where possible! Even if you aren’t able to get away on holiday this year, you can still enjoy a few days here and there with friends and family. There are plenty of free days out for adults and for kids, and if you’re not having to pay for accommodation, you may find you can squeeze a few atypical activities out of your budget too!
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