Travelling for less
Wouldn’t it be great if we could go anywhere, we wanted without paying a penny? Well, we can’t offer you free travel, but we can offer some tips to help you reduce your holiday expenditure.
Travelling is a great way to broaden your horizons and let go of the stress and annoyances of everyday life. But for most people, a holiday isn’t something they can just book whenever they want; it involves a whole lot of planning and a whole lot of saving.
It’s difficult to know just how much to save up for a holiday so the first sensible thing to do is a budget sheet for your yearly finances. There’s no point in saving all your money for a holiday if your car insurance is due the day you get back! It’s a good idea to make sure that the money you are putting aside for a holiday is not going to affect your ability to pay your essential living costs, and to make sure that it’s in an accessible savings account — just in case something happens and you need the money to avoid going into debt.
Some people find flights to be hardest part of the holiday to book because the pricing fluctuates so much. One month, a return flight to Barcelona could be £300 per person, and the next only £127. No one wants to spend more than they have to, so what’s the best way around it?
A simple internet search of ‘best time to book flights to [insert region]’ will probably give you a good idea. For example, the cheapest time to book flights to Cancun, Mexico is 18 weeks before you intend to travel, but the best time to book flights to Paris is only 7 weeks before.
Knowing when to book your flights can save you huge amounts — and a penny saved is a penny earned. Another thing to consider is that flights may not always be the cheapest way to travel. Although domestic flights (flights within the UK) can often undercut train fares considerably, if you’re travelling to Europe, there could be cheaper alternatives.
The ferry is one way to get from the UK border to the northern border of Europe. Ferry ports in Calais, Rotterdam and even Esbjerg in Denmark are all accessible from the UK and hiring a car may cost less than you think — just remember which side of the road to drive!
International trains are also a brilliant way to get from one country to the next — especially if you are doing a bit of city hopping, as it is far quicker to board a train than a plane, and trains tend to take you directly to the centre of the city.
Even after you’ve booked a holiday and arrived at your accommodation, things can still happen which can make the experience feel like a waste of time and money — after all, you go on holiday to relax not complain! Our number one tip is ALWAYS look up your accommodation on sites like TripAdvisor and Trustpilot — they are free to use and should give you a range of reviews from people who have stayed there before. There are often one or two less attractive reviews, but as long as the rest are great, you’re good to go. However, you might just find that their overall rating is 2/5, and not somewhere you want to spend your hard-earned money on.
Ultimately, it’s up to you where you choose to stay, but cross-referencing different travel sites for price comparison, and checking out the reviews prior to booking will often eliminate the truly dreadful accommodation.
Another thing to consider is the cancellation policy. Some hotels will have a free cancellation period where you will not be charged if you cancel within a certain amount of time, however others may require a non-refundable deposit. If it isn’t clearly stated on the website or brochure, always check the terms and conditions/FAQs or just give them a ring to check — just in case something happened which meant you couldn’t go away, it would be nice to know you’re not out of pocket as well.
There’s nothing more annoying than spending more than you need to. Sometimes it’s very easy to get carried away on holiday thinking ‘I’ll think about it when I get back home’, however this isn’t really a sensible or sustainable mindset.
While laying by the pool all day might just be your cup of tea, sometimes it’s nice to go out and explore the lovely country you’ve travelled all the way to see. Excursions from the hotel can cost an arm and a leg if you’re not careful so have a read of our tips below:
- Check before you travel
- Visit the local tourism office
- Ask the locals
Always look at the things to do in the area you’re staying in before you get on the plane — otherwise you might spend a day or two planning trips instead of enjoying them. Having a read beforehand will give you an idea of what’s on offer and — more importantly — a rough guide to the pricing of such activities. Buying through your hotel will often mean paying a premium on top of the activity so it will usually work out more expensive, however you will generally be guaranteed that what you’ve booked is legitimate.
The tourist information office is the next best place to go — have a venture into the town and you will usually find one situated nearby. The shop assistants will probably speak English and should be able to advise you on things to do around the city. Always be wary that they might get paid to promote certain companies over others so read some reviews for first-hand experiences. Tourist offices sometimes do deals and discounts on local activities too so it’s probably worth a visit if you’re starting to get bored at your hotel!
Of course, you don’t have to leave the country to go on holiday. And in fact, some people prefer holidaying without leaving the borders — and it’s not difficult to understand why.
If you aren’t paying for flights or ferry crossings, suddenly your holiday budget is just that bit bigger. Instead of spending £200 on a flight to Spain, you could use it towards your food and activities for the week — or just put it away for next year!
People with pets such as dogs often have a moral quandary when it comes to holidays because no one wants to leave part of the family behind, but if you aren’t travelling abroad, there is plenty of accommodation which welcomes all animals and means you can save money on dog sitters — plus you won’t feel so guilty about leaving your furry friend behind!
In terms of locations, we really do live on a versatile little island. There are plenty of beautiful beaches, forest terrain and urban areas throughout the UK which all offer great staycation destinations. For example, Cornwall is home to one of the most beautiful beaches in Europe (on a sunny day!) and the New Forest in Kent has wild ponies to walk amongst. London, the capital city, is always buzzing with life and culture from all over the world.
Of course, the English weather is a huge reason people can’t wait to get through those flight gates, and although we are known for our wet summers, last year we had one of the longest heat waves on record and temperatures were consistently in the high twenties — not all doom and gloom, then! At least if you are on holiday in the UK when it rains, chances are all the TV channels will be in English!
Prioritising your expenditure is never a chore which should be taken lightly. While holidays are exciting and exotic, it’s not something that’s worth getting into debt over. If you are already struggling or falling behind on bills, then maybe the holiday this year will have to be downsized.
While going abroad always seems more exciting than staying in your own country, it is usually much more expensive — especially if you have little ones at school. This is why it might be an idea to focus on a weekend away rather than a whole week.
It is always better to be safe than sorry because the last thing you need is being unable to fix your boiler in the middle of winter because you’ve booked a holiday that you can’t get a refund on. Unfortunately, life can be unpredictable and for those with tight finances, it’s not always easy to adapt.
CLEAR AND FAIR
Because of these sticky situations we sometimes find ourselves in, we have developed a loan comparison site so that you can compare short term loans and find the cheapest one to suit your needs, if the occasion arises. Clear and Fair compares several lenders and ranks them only in the order of cheapest to most expensive — and as we aren’t paid to promote certain creditors over others, you can be sure that the first loan is the cheapest.
However, it is important to note that short term loans often come with high interest rates and so they should only be used if you know that you can repay your loan on time and you just need some help to tide you over until payday.
All you need to know about short term loans
The best saving tips, budget ideas and ways to improve your financial health