You're probably spending more than you need to!
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We all know that travel can be incredibly expensive, and sometimes that means that we don't get to go abroad when we want to, or have to scrimp and save all year for that one week's holiday in the sun! We're not saying that we can completely change the way this works, but if you want to get more for your money, travel more affordably and regularly, and learn the best tricks to make sure you aren't getting ripped off, you're in the right place.
1. Package holidays...
We're not going to come on here and absolutely slate package holidays. Sometimes with your food, drinks, flights, luggage, transfers and hotel included, they genuinely can be a really great deal. Plus, the convenience of booking something all in one place, and the reassurance of a big-name company like Jet2 or Tui being there if anything goes wrong, is brilliant to have. However, if you're struggling to afford your trip or want to travel more regularly, they can be very limiting.
All we're saying is have a look at booking your different elements of your holiday separately. You can still use trusted sites! Here's what we'd suggest to do:
- Book your flights direct with the airline, just add as much luggage as you need if it's not included
- Search for accommodation on a trusted website such as Expedia
- Book transfers, car hire or taxis with a trusted website such as HolidayExtras
By the way, this is our partnership link with HolidayExtras and it automatically applies discounts for you! You're welcome ;)
2. Check, then check again:
When you've found your flights on a searching tool such as Skyscanner, before you book, check direct with the airline to see if it's any cheaper.
The same goes for accommodation. If you find your perfect hotel, search the name into Trivago and make sure nowhere else is offering the same room at a lower price.
This is less of a short-term savings idea and more of a long-term way to make some extra cash! Basically, as long as you go through their site when buying or booking something online, you can earn a percentage "cashback". With hotels, it's often between 4 and 8% depending which site you're booking through.
Any cashback that you earn goes into your virtual wallet which you can get paid into your bank directly, or exchange for a range of gift vouchers and get up to 20% bonus on your earnings. If you want to read more about this, we have a more detailed post about TopCashback here. As long as you remember to use it, you can genuinely earn some cash.
You can sign up to TopCashback here to start saving!
4. Be flexible:
We know it's hard to be flexible with your dates if you have commitments. Whether it's working around school holidays so you can bring your family, work commitments that you can't get out of or just having such a jam-packed schedule that you only have one week free. However, if you want to make big savings, being flexible with your dates of travel is the key. Even if it means having to plan much further in advance, try and have at least a few days leeway either side of your planned dates to look at.
This is because flight and hotel prices can vary ridiculous amounts, sometimes literally within the space of one day. The 3rd-10th might be £300 return flights. The 2nd-9th might take you down to £150.
If you can avoid school holiday times, definitely do. These make prices skyrocket, especially for popular family destinations and package holidays. Staying on a Friday or Saturday night also often makes accommodation prices much higher, so if you're only going for a few days, consider taking a Sunday-Tuesday break instead of a Thursday-Saturday.
5. Pack lightly:
This one is only important if you're booking everything separately, not if you're taking a package holiday, as they usually come with luggage included.
Especially when you're flying with a low-cost airline (think Ryanair, easyJet, Wizz), you can find incredible deals on your flights and feel as though you're going to have a trip away for next to nothing. Then you add on their luggage packages and realise they're going to cost just as much as the flight itself, if not more! Our advice is to think very carefully about how much you need, don't just go for the first luggage offer that is shown on screen.
The less clothes and liquids you can manage with, the less you'll pay. Also, if you are adding luggage, consider if you need a reserved seat, or if you can cope with being separated. Often this can add £20pp onto your flight costs!
The worst thing you can do is really overpack when you've chosen a smaller luggage package with an airline. Some airlines are very strict when it comes to their baggage policies, and they will charge you a pretty high fee if your luggage is too big for their dimensions, or too heavy. That's the last thing you want when you've spent so much time and effort finding the best deals to save money on your trip. We have a post which fully breaks down the Ryanair baggage policy here, which might be worth a read if you're flying with them.
6. Sign up for email notifications:
We're not just selling ourselves, but e-newsletters are a great way to keep up to date with the latest offers, sales, discounts etc. Personally, we thing that The Passport Press is a great one to join. It's only a monthly email so your inbox won't be flooded and you get updates on current sales, discounts, travel inspiration and lots of advice like this. You can sign up on our homepage here :)
But we don't just mean sign up to emails from us. Pretty much every airline has an email sign up which alerts you of discounts and sales. Comparison sites like Skyscanner do flight alerts that tell you when prices are going up or down for different destinations. The same goes for accommodation sites. Just beware that the emails might be pretty frequent, so if you really hate going through your inbox regularly, these might not be the best idea. You can make some great savings though!
7. Save at your destination:
Think about it. Unless you go all-inclusive, a huge portion of what you spend on a holiday is what you spend when you arrive at your destination. This is on things like food, drinks, activities, more food, more drinks, etc...
These things are part of what makes your trip amazing, and we're not saying to sit in your hotel eating supermarket sandwiches all day. But think about free things to do in your destination, such as exploring a city, a free museum, or relaxing in parks. Some nights, have a couple of drinks in your accommodation before you head out to save on alcohol spends. And definitely avoid tourist traps like the plague!
It doesn't ruin your experience if you don't eat luxury meals out and drink cocktails every single night. For example, one of our favourite memories from our trip to Seville was sitting by the river at sunset. How much did that experience cost us? Absolutely nothing.
But the atmosphere by the river on an evening with locals, tourists and students all relaxing and watching the buskers perform on the street was something we wouldn't miss for the world, and miles better than some of the bars we paid for drinks in.
8. Consider alternative accommodation:
Have you ever considered staying in a hostel? Or in a rented room or suite within someone's home? Of course, this is only applicable in certain situations. Maybe a party hostel in Budapest isn't the ideal accommodation for a week long family holiday. But for a budget long weekend with friends, it could be absolutely perfect. If you're travelling solo, a dorm bed is usually less than half the price of a hotel room. And if you're travelling as a bigger group, hostels often rent out private dorm rooms with different numbers of beds, which is much cheaper than paying for several hotel rooms.
We'd recommend Hostelworld to search for hostels and compare prices.
Airbnb Rooms are also a very good option, and often much cheaper than hotel or hostel accommodation. Just make sure to check reviews and that the location is close to the attractions you want to visit. We have a full post on Airbnb Rooms and what they're like to stay in here.
9. Consider different destinations:
If you really want to make the absolute most of your money to travel more, you need to think carefully about the place you're going. We're not saying you can't visit popular or expensive destinations on a budget, there are always ways to do this, but it's going to be a lot harder to save your money in Dublin, Rome or Reykjavik than it is somewhere like Budapest or Prague.
There are lots of countries in Europe, particularly more towards the East, where even major cities are very cheap for accommodation and spending money when you're there. Or, if you're desperate to visit more traditionally popular tourist destinations, consider staying out of the centre and travelling in to save. For example, when we visited Venice, we stayed in the Staycity apartments in Venice Mestre, and took the ten minute train into the city centre. When we wanted to visit Amsterdam and Rotterdam, we stayed in Gouda and had a day trip to each city, as it was much cheaper.
10. See if you can bag yourself a discount:
Most websites now have a section when you checkout to add a discount or promotional code. Often these are for 10% off, but you can potentially receive more than this!
One way to make sure you get any discounts on offer is to join Honey and install their browser extension. It automatically tests discount codes to get you a saving at checkout. The other way is to sign up to lots of e-newsletters and get alerted of sales and discount codes direct from companies!
Another way to get discounts is to book your meals through The Fork. It's owned by Tripadvisor and they offer lots of discounts if you book your table at a restaurant through their platform. We got 30% off the entire bill one of our favourite restaurants in Seville here! Plus, if you sign up through our link here, you'll get 1000 of their loyalty points which should get you some money off in the future.
Make sure to have a scan of this list every time you're booking a trip and wondering if there might be a cheaper way. We've managed to make some great savings using these tips, and so will you!
Enjoy the extra money - Jess ;)