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20 Quick and Effective Tips to Save Money on Your Summer Holiday

Published: 20 Apr 2018

Summer is fast approaching, and many of us will be starting to think about our summer holidays. You may have already booked a trip away, or perhaps you’re only now beginning to shop around for inspiration. Either way, holidays can be expensive, even when looking at advance or last-minute deals. Indeed, many get caught out each year by hidden costs and surprisingly expensive extras, but if you’re prepared then you can save £100s. Check out our 20 quick and simple tips to save money on your summer holiday below!

1. Negotiate, negotiate, negotiate!

The majority of tour operators and travel agencies will be more than open to negotiating their prices, and will often throw in extras if they cannot give discounts. Don’t be afraid to ask if they are giving their best possible price when booking.

2. Consider making the journey part of the holiday

Booking direct flights, trains and coaches can help you to get to your destination faster, but may be prohibitively expensive or eat into a large chunk of your overall budget. Why not book cheaper travel going via somewhere else en route, which you can then incorporate into your holiday?

3. Travel light

We’re all guilty of packing far too much when we go away, and this can mean expensive luggage costs and excess baggage charges. Where possible, condense your clothing into your hold luggage, then you’ll have more space for any souvenirs you want to bring home.

4. Avoid the minibar

Hotel minibars are notoriously expensive, and will sell drinks and snacks at prices way above the recommended retail price. It’s almost always cheaper to grab a drink at the hotel bar instead, and to bring your own snacks to the room if you can.

5. Don’t forget to budget for overseas inoculations

Those visiting far flung destinations may require one or more jabs to protect them against certain diseases, such as yellow fever, rabies and hepatitis. These jabs are not free on the NHS, and anti-malaria medication can also be expensive. Talk to your doctor for more information.

6. Use excursion brochures as inspiration only

When looking at things to see and do once you get to your destination, it can be wise to consider booking it all separately yourself. For instance, a day trip with a guide to a local attraction may well be much cheaper if you simply buy tickets in advance, and make your own way there on local transport.

7. Never buy your travel money at the airport

The exchange rates offered at the airport bureau de change are usually the most expensive you’ll find – they rely on people who have forgotten to purchase their foreign currency in advance. These days, you can order foreign currency online. Compare prices to ensure you’re getting a fair rate.

8. Dine in non-tourist areas

When going out to eat, try to steer clear of the main tourist areas, which will sell more expensive meals aimed at visitors. When going to places a little off the beaten track, you can expect more authentic food and cheaper prices – what’s not to love?

9. Consider alternative accommodation

A hotel is not always going to be the cheapest option when it comes to holiday accommodation. Why not look into hostels, self-catering apartments or camping as a way to save money? There’s no rule which says you have to stay in the same place every night either – you could mix and match.

10. Travel during the night

Travelling on coaches, trains and planes during the night is a great way to save money on accommodation costs, particularly if you’re happy to sleep ‘on-the-go’. These journeys also tend to be cheaper and less crowded, which is a big bonus for those who prefer to relax on their journeys.

11. If driving, take the road less travelled

Whether you’re holidaying abroad or in the UK, taking the smaller roads to get to your destination may take a little longer, but the journey is likely to be more enjoyable. You’re less likely to get stuck in traffic, you’ll use less fuel, and you won’t have to pay tolls.

12. Try to be flexible with your dates

The cost of flights and accommodation can vary hugely in a short period of time, and you may find that delaying or bringing forward your holiday by a day or two could save you £100s. Always double check the costs either side of your ideal dates, just in case.

13. Beware of expensive data roaming charges

Data roaming charges have been abolished in the EU, but if you’re visiting a non-EU country then the charges are going to be high. Use Wi-Fi as much as possible and if you’re worried about the costs, keep data roaming turned off for the duration of your stay. 

14. Sign up for emails to get the best deals

Airlines, travel operators and hotels will send you price reductions and special offers by email, as well as informing you when bookings are open or when they have reduced in price. This can be invaluable if you want to act fact, so sign up to their emails to take advantage.

15. Take your own packed lunch for the journey

Buying basic snacks during a journey can end up being very expensive for a family of four, particularly if you are on a plane. Buy liquids in the departure lounge, but take your own snacks to save on these often extortionate costs.

16. If you want to hire a car, choose a diesel engine

In Continental Europe, diesel tends to be much cheaper than petrol, and it will get you much further on a single tank.

17. Use Airbnb for city breaks

If you’re going on a city break, looking at Airbnb or a similar home rental platform can give you a much more authentic experience for a fraction of the cost of a hotel. Your hosts should be able to give you plenty of insider tips for how to make the most of your holiday.

18. Save money with a house-swap

If you like the idea of not having to pay for accommodation at all, a house swap may be a fun solution. Using house swap websites such as Guardian Home Exchange means your home will be looked after and you may not even have to put your dog or cat into a kennel while you’re away if you have swapped with pet lovers, which really raises the potential savings.

19. Do your research before you go

Do plenty of research online before you book to ensure you know what is worth spending a little more of your budget on, and what you should avoid. There are millions of reviews out there for everything from the hotel you’re staying in to the local eateries and attractions. No matter what you spend, none of it will feel like a waste if you’ve managed to avoid the traps.

20. Read the small print when booking anything

Whether you’re booking a hotel, a flight, a hire car or an excursion, ALWAYS read the small print. This can give you an idea of what is and isn’t included in the cost and will ensure you are not surprised by the price of add-ons and extras. This will help you to weed out the best deals.