Going on holiday can be pricey business. So pricey, that we all want to get the best deal for as little as possible. If you’re stressed about getting away for summer (and saving cash in the process) here are some tried and tested measures that will ensure some of your hard-earned money is kept safely in your pocket.
1. Plan smart – When it comes to travel, planning is everything. Holiday high season runs from the end of May until the end of August and due to limited availability from travel agent bookings, flight prices tend to be quite high. Use a website like Skyscanner.net to check your preferred date of travel and see if flying a day or two earlier will save you even more money.
2. Go indirect – If you’re really travelling on a budget, flying indirect can be a savvy move. Due to flight swaps, you will end up spending some time in the airport, but if you don’t mind waiting around you can nab yourself a brilliant bargain. You can then use the cash you save for an extra night’s accommodation or to bulk up your spending money.
3. Postpone your summer holiday – If you’re not tied to flying over the summer period, opt for an autumn break instead. By flying in late September or early October, you’re still likely to get decent weather and you’ll save on things like flights, accommodation and entrance fees to tourist attractions. You’ll also have the added benefit of less crowds.
4. Don’t leave it to chance – Weigh your luggage before you leave your house. Invest in a small hand-held scales so you can weigh your luggage before you fly home. When you’re trying to save money the last thing you want is a fee for going over your luggage weight allowance.
5. Travel overnight – If you’re the type of person who can nod off easily, consider travelling through the night. Overnight flights, ferries or buses usually cost significantly less than travelling through daytime hours.
6. Don’t forget your entitlements – Are you a senior citizen or a student? Bring your ID with you. Many countries offer free entry to museums and galleries for the over-65s while students will be able to benefit from reduced entrance fees.
7. Stay away from the mini bar – It’s an age-old hotel rule, but one that bears repeating. Not matter how hungry or thirsty you get it’s just not worth it. You could end up paying almost €8 for a bottle of water. If you’re desperate, walk downstairs to the restaurant or the bar where you’ll be able to get what you want at a fraction of the cost.
8. Dine out – When booking a hotel always opt for the ‘room only’ rate and dine out for breakfast every morning. Yes, dining in the hotel is more convenient, but opting for B&B can push up your accommodation costs significantly. You’ll save much more if you get your breakfast in a local café.
9. Consider upgrading – Just because you’re trying to save money doesn’t mean that you should rule out four and five-star hotels. Since the recession hit, many of these hotels have had to cut their prices in order to keep up with competition and ensure a steady flow of business. Don’t write off a hotel just because it’s on the higher end of the star-scale. You may find that you get a better deal.
10. Think about alternatives – Flying from a secondary airport, if you can, can be a major money server. Secondary airports are less busy than the main airport and you may find that when you factor in your cost of travel to the secondary airport and your flight, your overall cost still works out cheaper than if you were to fly direct from the main airport. In Ireland look to Cork, Shannon or Belfast.
11. Go around the corner – Never eat in the restaurants or cafés that are beside popular tourist attractions. These will always be more expensive. Instead, go around the corner. You’ll still get great food, but at a fraction of the cost.
12. Leave your toiletries at home – Hotels will always have shampoo, conditioner, soap and shower gel available for no extra cost. Don’t waste your money (or your luggage allowance) on buying fresh bottles before you travel.
13. Bag a bargain – Check deal websites like GroupOn and LivingSocial specific to your holiday destination. Here you’re likely to find great deals on tourist attractions and shows. Booking in advance will save you a small fortune.
14. Change your meal times – Eat your largest meal of the day at lunchtime. Lunchtime menus will always be cheaper as many restaurants hike up their prices ahead of the evening rush. By eating large at lunch, you’ll be able to save cash when it comes to dining in the evening.
15. Scale up – Instead of buying two separate hotel rooms (one for yourself and one for your children), opt for a suite instead. It might sound lavish, but you’ll often find that a suite costs less than two separate rooms. If your budget doesn’t stretch to a two-room suite, simply ask for a cot so you can turn the suite’s living area into a makeshift room.