Fortunately, there are ways you can take a well-deserved break without worrying too much about the strain it puts on your bank account. From travel apps and beautiful cheap holiday destinations you’ve likely never heard of to making use of reward schemes - there are plenty of innovative ways to find cheap holidays abroad these days.
Here, we look at some holiday saving tips that wannabe holidaymakers might not have thought of...
1. Go off the beaten track
You may be used to holidaying in particular hotspots such as Spain or France, but they often come with a hefty price tag. So why not try exploring off the beaten track? There are plenty of destinations Link opens in a new window that offer better value for your money, and an alternative family adventure.
You could try a budget beach holiday in Albania, for example, an eastern European destination that offers sunshine, history, and far fewer tourists than pricier Croatia or Montenegro. Alternatively, look out for holidays in the Baltic Republics, Poland or more affordable Greek islands such as Andros, Tinos or Naxos.
If you’re particularly open-minded when it comes to where you go, search anytime and anywhere on holiday comparison websites to see what comes up. You could discover a new favourite destination that you’re keen to return to.
2. Use budget travel comparison services
There are a booming number of travel apps that can help you to slash your holiday costs. For example, I use the Hopper Link opens in a new window app which enables you to find deals on everything from flights to hotels and car hire. You can save up to 40% on the cost of some flights and hotels. Simply choose a destination and access a colour-coded calendar showing the cheapest dates to travel.
If you’re looking to slash the cost of flights in particular, Kayak Link opens in a new window is a good place to start. You can use filters to include the cost of checked-in bags so you can compare the full price you’d pay for a flight. Other options include Momondo, Google Flights Link opens in a new window and Skyscanner Link opens in a new window to easily compare prices across different airlines.
You can also use Kayak and Skyscanner to compare hotels, along with others such as Booking.com Link opens in a new window and Hotels.com Link opens in a new window, filtering by star rating, amenities, and freebies included in the price.
3. Haggle hard at the last minute
If you’re flexible with your travel dates and willing to be spontaneous, haggling for a cheap last-minute deal could offer significant savings. Hotels and travel agencies often drop prices closer to the departure date if there are rooms or packages still available. The later you leave it, the more willing they might be to strike a deal.
If you’re able to travel outside peak periods, such as in May, June or October, you’ll get a lower price. Try searching for the holiday you want on sites such as Lastminute.com Link opens in a new window and Expedia.co.uk Link opens in a new window.
Ricky Willis, blogger and thrifty parent at Skint Dad Link opens in a new window, says: “Once you’ve found the holiday you want, try haggling with tour operators direct for a cheaper deal. You can also try negotiating directly with hotels as they may be willing to offer you a better deal than you’ve found online if they’ve got rooms to fill.”
4. Manage your finances carefully to reduce costs
Using the right debit or credit card overseas means you can avoid hefty extra fees on your spending. Otherwise, you could face transaction fees of up to 3% every time you spend on your card abroad, and extra fees for making withdrawals, which rack up over a holiday.
By choosing the right card you won’t pay any fees. There are no foreign transaction fees to use your card or withdraw cash abroad if you’re a Virgin Money M Plus current account Link opens in a new window holder, for example. Just remember, while Virgin Money won’t charge you, some ATM providers may apply a charge. You’ll be notified of this before you go ahead with the withdrawal.
Remember, too, that it’s usually best to pay in the local currency when you’re spending abroad. Choose this option when you pay on a card machine as you’ll often get a better exchange rate if your money isn’t converted into pounds sterling.
5. Embrace the outdoors
You could enjoy a cheap family holiday abroad by going camping or caravanning and making the most of the great outdoors.
Alexandra Watson, who runs the blog Life is a Picnic Link opens in a new window, sharing her love of the outdoors, says: “We find it cheaper to hire a motor home for a holiday than rent a family room in a hotel or book an Airbnb big enough for a family.”
“You can book for as little as a few days to a month and get a discount for booking longer to save more. You save money on eating out or having to book half or full board by cooking in the camper. Honestly, even just driving 1.5 hours from our home seems like we are visiting somewhere far more exotic or far-flung.”
You can find beautiful spots using the park4night app Link opens in a new window, or head for a wild camping area of your choice. You’ll find thousands of UK and European sites on UKcampsite.co.uk Link opens in a new window, or pay £48 a year to try the Campingandcaravanningclub.co.uk Link opens in a new window to find more options.
6. Use reward schemes and other discounts
Reward schemes are offered by financial providers, airlines, hotels and many other companies. These enable you to earn points or miles for your everyday spending that can be redeemed for discounted flights or hotel stays. You can boost your benefits by booking flights during off-peak periods or taking advantage of reward scheme member offers.
If you want rewards for the things you’re into then check out Virgin Red Link opens in a new window. There are over 150 ways to earn Virgin Points with Virgin Red. Get points every time you fly, stay, sail, or even sip wine. Then spend them on the Virgin family and beyond. Like flights, gigs, gifts, going out, going out-out, spa days or nights away. It’s free to join, open to everyone (18+) and completely online.
You can also sign up to discount holiday sites such as HolidayPirates Link opens in a new window for package deals, and Travelzoo.com Link opens in a new window. Sign up for Jack’s Flight Club Link opens in a new window newsletters and you’ll get hefty flight discounts sent directly to your inbox.
And don’t forget you can pick up cashback with your everyday shopping with Virgin Money Cashback Link opens in a new window – a nifty way to put what you earn into your holiday fund.
Ultimately, there are plenty of ways to cut the cost of a holiday abroad, provided you’re willing to be flexible and take the time to check them out.
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