We all love a holiday, and with a little know-how it’s easy to make your pennies go that much further. So we’ve put together 50 great ways to save on all kinds of holidays, from cruises to city breaks and everything in between. We do like a bargain, after all (if you haven’t checked out our amazing cruise deals pages – do so!)
Here are 50 wallet-friendly ways to save money on your next holiday:
Before You Book
1. Pick your Dates
For childless travellers, holidaying outside of school holidays has long proven to be a more affordable option. Also consider the school holidays of the children from your destination to help you find cheaper stays. For example – Florida hotel prices are often lower in September in between summer and Thanksgiving.
2. Stay Informed
Signing up to email mailing lists can keep you up-to-date with the latest deals. The finite time in which companies have to fill rooms/seats means special discounts are commonplace.
3. Clear your Cache
Some holiday sites will store your details for future visits, and may increase the price on a specific holiday if you visit multiple times. Trick the site into thinking you’re a first-time visitor by clearing your browser’s cache and receive the original, low price.
4. Look for Last-Minute Deals
The race against time faced by many holiday companies to fill rooms/seats mean last-minute deals may be priced aggressively, passing huge savings on to you.
5. Travel at Unsocial Hours
Flight prices are often significantly lower during unsocial hours. Take advantage of other travellers’ reluctance to get out of bed early and bag yourself a bargain.
6. Holiday En Masse
Group bookings can often provide huge savings, particularly when booking a villa. A six bedroom villa is often far cheaper than six bedrooms in a similarly luxurious hotel. Spread the savings and the joy.
7. Travel on a Tuesday or Wednesday
Perched in the middle of the week, Tuesday and Wednesday are traditionally the least popular and cheapest days to travel on. Book your passage on these days could help you save big.
8. Use Google Translate on Your Phone
Before you travel, download Google ‘s Translate App on your smartphone. If you’re going to a place where English isn’t widely spoken, it’ll make your travels much less stressful, for free!
9. Visiting the EU? Travel By Train
Compared to the majority of the EU, the UK’s rail service receives little in government subsidies. This makes rail travel on the continent more affordable. Take advantage of this, and book train transfers rather than taxi or bus.
10. Use Comparison Tools
MoneySavingExpert has an ‘I’ll Go Anywhere’ option, allowing you to find the cheapest trip. This is perfect for those who have a few days holiday to take and a limited budget.
Travel Money, Insurance and Other Preparation
11. Shop for the Best Exchange Rate
The Post Office won’t always have the best exchange rate. Use the Money.co.uk tool to help you find the best deal on your money swap.
12. Don’t Just Pick Any Card
If you don’t want to carry cash, select a credit card with overseas spend bonuses to save you money on every purchase. This guide can help you choose a card with great benefits.
13. Insure the Whole Family
Basic travel insurance can be quite cheap for the individual, but buying individual policies for each family member before each trip can soon add up. Insure the whole family for a full year to save money.
14. Don’t be Scammed by Low-Cost Cancellation Insurance
Many insurance and booking deals include optional cancellation insurance, often less than £5. This may seem like a cheap way to protect your investment, but always check the details. Some of these insurances only cover a percentage of the investment, making them less worthwhile.
15. Keep your European Health Insurance Card
Even if you have travel insurance, the European Health Insurance Card can help lower the excess on said insurance policy. Don’t trust sites which charge for the card, simply order for free.
16. Get Vaccinated Privately
For those travelling to more exotic climes, requiring inoculations, it may be worthwhile checking out commercial travel clinics for the jabs. Companies such as MASTA may be able to inoculate you for cheaper than your GP.
17. Be Wary of Roaming Costs
Different mobile phone tariffs have different charges for mobile use abroad. Check out your tariff’s details before calling home or checking the cricket scores on your travels. Some tariffs allow you to upgrade your package for cheap calls and texts abroad.
18. Check your Passport in Advance
Renewing your passport usually takes three weeks (backlog issues not-permitting) and costs £72.50*. Emergency renewals can be sought but cost £103* for a one-week turnaround and £128* for same day renewal. Make sure you’re not stung with extra charges, renewing with time to spare.
19. Take your Own Passport Photo
Save a few pounds by taking your passport photo at home. This guide teaches you everything you need to know to ensure your photo meets all the requirements. Plus you can take your time with the process, protecting you against having an embarrassing photo for the next decade.
20. Save Tickets to Your Phone
Many airport check-ins, transfer companies and hotels only require the code sent in an email booking confirmation to check you in. Save all of this information to your phone, so you can access it immediately and easily without having to connect to the internet and incur additional charges.
At the Airport
21. Take your Own Teabags
A cup of tea in an airport can cost upwards of £4 (we’re looking at you, Manchester Airport!). Take your own teabags and ask for just a free cup of hot water. A small, simple saving.
22. Take a Book
Waiting around in an airport can lead to boredom-beating browsing through shops and subsequent unnecessary purchases, so be sure to pack a book in your hand luggage.
23. Swap Airport Runs
Offer to drive your next-door neighbour to the airport in exchange for them returning the favour. Neither of you will have to pay for a taxi or cover extortionate airport parking costs.
24. Pack Sandwiches
Airport prices are traditionally quite extortionate. Pack sandwiches to avoid being lured into paying over the odds for a snack or meal. Plus, you can make it to your own tastes, rather than picking out limp tomatoes from an airport sandwich.
25. Be Clever with Duty-Free
Duty-free shopping in airports can be a great money-saver. Make a list of products (spirits, fragrances, etc.) you may be interested in before and check the domestic prices using My Supermarket. Make a list of these (including sizes) to determine whether duty-free is really providing significant savings.
26. Give your Luggage a Little Wiggle Room
The additional charges for overweight luggage can be quite high. Invest in a set of luggage scales – an easy way to check your suitcase’s weight before you fly and small enough to pack so that you can check on the way back.
27. Seek Airport Vouchers
Check the airport’s website prior to your holiday for any money-saving vouchers. Many airport websites have a dedicated page for the latest voucher deals.
28. Print off Boarding Cards
Passengers travelling with Ryanair and Jet2 are expected to print off their boarding ticket prior to arriving at the airport. Failure to do so could see you fined £70/£17.50* respectively.
29. Use Off-Site Valet Services
There are alternatives to many airports’ car parks including valet services which will meet you at the terminal and take your car to a secure, remote parking space.
30. Review the Banned List
Different countries operate slightly different “banned lists” throughout their airports. Double check these to ensure you are packing nothing which will get confiscated. One of the strictest countries is the USA – here is their government-backed banned list.
On a Cruise
31. Check out Repositioning Cruises
Cruise liners sometimes change their home port to support holidays around different regions. Rather than relocate an empty ship, the cruise company will sell cabins aboard these repositioning trips at a much cheaper rate – so you get all the luxury of a cruise holiday, for a bargain price.
32. Be Wary of Tipping Policies
Almost all cruise companies have gratuity policies which automatically deduct money from your account. Check out our gratuity guide to see how much you’ll be spending. Visit the guest services desks on board the ships to adjust your gratuity amounts.
33. Book On-Board
Book your next cruise from the comfort of your current cruise holiday and take advantage of reduced deposits, discounts and offers of free on-board credit.
34. Check the Currency
Cruise ships use the currency of the country they are registered to, not the port from which they sail. So you could sail from Southampton on a cruise around the UK, but be required to use US Dollars. Double-check the currency beforehand to ensure you are prepared – exchanging on the ship may be more expensive.
35. Dine for Free
Many ships have a selection of complimentary and paid-for dining options. Eating in the free restaurants could save a family of four over £500* in a week.
36. Time your Spa Visits
Spa treatments often come at an additional cost to the holiday, but special deals are sometimes offered when the ship is docked in port. Enquire about any special deals and take full advantage.
37. Invest in a Drinks Package
If alcoholic or specialist drinks are not included in your package, a drinks package could save you money every day. Giving yourself free rein of the bar could help you save money whilst sipping cocktails from a coconut.
38. Organise a Group
Some cruise lines will offer a free or heavily-discounted holiday for somebody who has organised a group holiday of 16 or more people. You can split these savings across the group or simply keep them for yourself.
39. Caution at the Casino
Cruise fans love a flutter at the casino, but unless you have a Rain Man-esque capacity for card counting, they can be a place to very quickly lose money. Remember to gamble responsibly.
40. Try a Taster Cruise
Not sure if a cruise holiday is for you? Try a taster cruise – it’s short trip of less than 7 days – typically over a weekend – which is perfect for a budget-conscious break away.
Food, Drink and Shopping
41. Research All Inclusive Quality
All inclusive resorts may represent great value – unless the food is inedible and the drinks terrible, forcing you to eat elsewhere. Use impartial websites like Trip Advisor to get an idea of the quality of food before paying extra for the all inclusive service.
Take a look at our guide to all-inclusive cruise holidays.
42. Eat with the Locals
Find where and what the locals like to eat. This will often result in canny savings and delicious dining. Back alley bistros and cafes off the beaten track can often provide the best value, even if they don’t look very polished.
43. Leave the Minibar Alone
This may seem like obvious advice but so many have succumbed to the temptation and foolish logic dictating: “well a bottle of water can’t be THAT expensive”.
44. Dine at Lunchtime
Eating the big meal of the day at lunchtime can bring with it great savings due to the cheaper lunchtime menus in many restaurants. You’ll be able to enjoy the same meal for a much lower price. Then simply treat yourself to a lighter meal later in the day.
45. Drink the Local Wine
Many wines from old wine-producing countries have been developed over centuries to perfectly complement the local cuisine and can often be found in restaurants at a lower price than the exported wine options – helping combine quality with economy.
46. Coffee on the Bar
Coffee culture is deeply soaked into the fabric of many of Italy’s cities. Part of this culture is to price drinks based upon where the customer is sat. Many cafes in Rome will charge €1 for an espresso at the bar but €3.50 at a table.
47. Learn the Local Lingo for ‘Service Charge’
If you are travelling on the continent, you may be tipping twice. Many European restaurants, bars and cafes add a service charge to the bill. Keep an eye out for servis compris in France or servizio inclusio in Italy.
48. Stock up on the Basics
If you are planning on cooking whilst on holiday, pack dry basics in your suitcase such as pasta, rice, salt and pepper to save money on resort prices.
49. Have a Snack not a Starter
A simple, inexpensive snack at 4pm can help tide you over until your main course, avoiding the temptation of an expensive starter.
50. Find the Deals
Even overseas, you can use tools such as Groupon to find local deals and discounts to make your dining options more affordable. Simply sign up for the programme in the location you are planning on visiting.
*prices correct at time of publication