Even the most successful, high-powered career woman needs a break now and then, and for the rest of us, tired and stressed, it is even more essential. Even if you are living on a budget, you still need to take time out for yourself to relax and re-focus your mind.
Splashing out on an expensive holiday is easy if you’ve got the money, but it’s also possible to travel on a shoestring budget using these money saving tips.
Seven Ways to Travel on a Shoestring Budget
1. Travel Out of Season
Everyone knows that flight and accommodation prices rocket during the school holidays, so if you are concerned about how to save money, avoid these periods entirely.
You will also notice price hikes in the calendar around festivals and other big events (including conferences and exhibitions), as well as bank holiday weekends. Look ahead to identify quiet periods, particularly in November, January and February when relatively few people are travelling.
2. Be Open to New Destinations
The cost of staying in Rome, Paris or Barcelona is at a premium year-round because of the cities’ popularity. Much more affordable, but no less interesting, are the likes of Berlin, Budapest and Lisbon, as well as many of the cities in the Baltic States. Look out for package deals that combine flights and accommodation as these tend to be the most affordable.
3 Choose Your Airports Carefully
The fees and taxes charged by airports can make a significant difference to the cost of your flight. For this reason, it is often substantially cheaper to start and finish your flight in a regional airport such as Manchester or Bristol rather than flying out of London Heathrow or Gatwick.
4. Consider Lots of Accommodation Options
There are occasions to indulge yourself (or, even better, be indulged by someone else) in a luxury hotel, but it is usually an expensive way to rest your head. Save money by choosing a destination where you have a friend or colleague you can stay with, sign up to couchsurfing.com, or rent a room or apartment through Air BnB.
Staying in someone’s home you will not only save money but also gain insight into the city, where to go and what to do, with a savvy local’s eye for economy.
If you are going to stay in a hotel, check the rates over a number of dates. Hotels designed for business travellers tend to be quiet at weekends, and hence their rates are lower then. The opposite is true for hotels appealing to couples on city breaks, hen parties, and other leisure tourists.
5. Travel With a Friend
Find a play mate (a friend, a sister, or even your Mother) and travel together. Single rooms are substantially more expensive than half the cost of a twin. If you hire a car you can split the cost, and a bottle of wine is always best shared between two or more.
Remember that if you are travelling with a large group (10 or more), you can also get discounted flights. If you are the group leader, ask hotels for a free room or hefty price cut, and frequently they’ll oblige.
6. Combine Work and Play
If you have the opportunity to travel for work, tag your holiday on the start or end of a business trip. This way you will get your flights and transfers for free, dramatically reducing the cost of your vacation.
In a similar vein, you can also consider volunteering, short-term jobs, and renting out your flat or room in your absence, all of which will keep your costs down, and may even put you in profit.
7. Start a Holiday Fund
Find a way to save a little from each pay check. Put it in a separate holiday fund account, and don’t touch it. If you get a bonus at work, a tax rebate, or even £10 from your Gran, deposit it in the account.
By the time it comes to your annual leave, you’ll have at least a healthy contribution to the cost of the trip, and can reward yourself for managing your personal finance diligently throughout the year with an upgrade, a spa treatment, or an extra cocktail or three.
What are your experiences on travelling on a shoestring budget? Please leave your comments below. We’d love to hear from you!