Winter is setting in and the weather is turning glum. You'd love a few days away to escape the daily grind (and the weather), but you're on a budget. What do you do?
Getting away when you're strapped for cash is tough, but it can be done. So I've put together the below tips to help lessen the financial burden…
1. Don't park at the airport
On-site airport parking is going to be the most costly parking, even if you pay in advance online for long-term car parks, we're still talking in the £100s for a week or two away.
Do an internet search for off-site parking near airports (APH is a start) or consider sites like JustPark where members offer their car park spaces for a fraction of the price it would cost to park – and some even offer free drop off and pick up from the airport.
2. Book in advance
If you're not confident in trying out alternative services such as off-site parking, then at least book you parking in advance, rather than paying ‘on the door'.
The same applies to things like airport lounges, which are often cheaper when booking ahead. Try companies like Holiday Extras.
3. Get a European Health Insurance Card
If you're heading to Europe for your holiday make sure you apply for a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC).
This doesn't necessarily mean that you'll receive free medical treatment, but it will mean that if you have to pay, you'll be paying the same as the locals.
4. Watch the online applications
On the subject of applying for the EHIC online, beware of the companies that charge for making an application on your behalf – always read the small print! This link is the correct one for applying for the EHIC card where you won't be charged.
You don't really want to pay for the privilege of filling out a form when you can do this directly yourself with the company.
The same goes for visa applications – there are so many unofficial sites that catch people out, who end up paying a huge fee to them.
5. Pay for a holiday with your credit card
Check with your credit card on this one, but many cards offer extra value when it comes to paying for high value items or services – and this includes travel.
For example, many credit cards will automatically offer free travel insurance when paying for a holiday, while others may give a discount or free access to an airport lounge.
If you are paying by credit card, be responsible and make sure you can afford to pay off the minimum amount, otherwise face steep interest charges.
6. Turn your mobile phone data off
Network providers can charge you a fortune for accidentally using 3G to send a text.
If you're an Apple user (like myself) make full use of Wi-Fi services to send iMessages or try out FaceTime if you're wanting to call home or check in with friends. Skyscanner has helpfully listed a guide to Wi-Fi at some of Europe's busiest airports.
Alternatively, if you're out and about on holiday, keep an eye out for public Wi-Fi points. Usually international well-known brands such as McDonalds offers free Wi-Fi, and there's usually always a McDonalds to be found in most cities.
7. Pay with cash rather than card
Once you are in a destination try to avoid using your debit or credit card as banks can charge a lot of money.
If you change up currency, avoid doing it at the hotel you are staying in – they will always offer the worst possible rate – either use a cash point to withdraw local currency or head for the nearest large town or city to compare and get the best exchange rate.
Your best bet is to change money in advance before you travel – Travelux is a good place to start.
8. Do your research in advance
You research on what insurance is best for your car or home, so make sure you do some research on the destination you're travelling to.
The great thing about doing this is that it also puts you in the holiday spirit and gets you really looking forward to your trip!
The best place to start is usually the tourist office who will be able to inform you of any free exhibitions, festivals or events that are taking place in your chosen destination, saving you even more money! ANTOR is the principal lobbying organisation for the world's tourist offices.
9. Get to be a pro at packing
There are actually apps you can download that help guide you on what to pack for a trip away, but as a general rule of thumb, if you're going away for three days or less, you can get away with taking a holdall and not having to check in baggage.
And if you're flying with some of the low-cost airlines, this will save you a fortune. Another tip for packing this way is to roll clothes as you'll fit more in, and make use of all available space – e.g Use the inside of your shoes to stash toiletries, jewellery and scarfs, gloves etc.
10. Borrow, don't buy!
On the subject of clothes, try to avoid buying new clothes to take with you.
If you're heading somewhere cold, layering up is what will keep you warm, rather than one thick layer, and if you need specialist clothing – for a ski trip or camping adventure for example, ask family and friends to see if you can borrow their gear. Alternatively, scour the second-hand/charity shops or boot fairs before you go.
11. Download the apps
There are so many handy apps for travellers out there, but rather than discovering them while you're hundreds of miles away from home, get them downloaded over Wi-Fi before you go. Examples include maps that you can use offline that might just save you from getting lost if you're on a self-drive holiday or road trip and apps like currency converters and city guides.
12. Check prices on package holidays V sourcing components separately
Sometimes buying the different components of a holiday separately i.e. your flights and accommodation (rather than a package holiday) can work out cheaper, but bear in mind if you do this, you'll also need to buy transfers (or car hire) separately as well – you don't want to be stranded at the airport when you arrive!
Check with your local travel agent as well, as they will be aware of any late or early booking offers. Whoever you book with – online or via the High Street, make sure it's a reputable company, with the key word being it is ATOL protected.
This means that your money is protected should the company you book with collapses. If you are searching online yourself good places to start comparing flights, accommodation and car hire include Skyscanner, Late Rooms, Momondo, Kayak, Hotels4U and Holiday Taxis.
If you're looking for luxury but still want a great deal, check out Secret Escapes, which offers up to 70% savings on luxury holidays.
13. You don't have to fly!
There are so many ways of travelling now, with ferry, cruises and rail holidays becoming increasingly popular. And getting to a destination other than by plane can often be cheaper if you look at some alternatives.
There are also plenty of cruise and rail companies that offer package itineraries – too many to mention, but good places to start include Railbookers, Great Rail, Cruise Deals, Cruise.co.uk and Travel Supermarket, being a good all-rounder.
14. Book excursions & attraction tickets in advance
This is a great way to save money as often ‘on the gate' prices at theme parks, water parks, you-name-it parks can be so much higher.
15. Consider alternative accommodation
Websites like AirBnB, which offer places to stay from local hosts, have really taken off in the last year – and there's good reason. You get to stay in unique accommodation and see the real destination for a fraction of the price of staying in a hotel.
If you really want to cut out accommodation costs altogether, consider home exchange holidays, where ‘you go to their house and they come to yours' for an agreed length of time. Examples include Love Home Swap and Home Link.
16. Watch your board basis
If you are staying in self-catering accommodation you can really cut costs on food and drink by buying from a local supermarket and making your own meals.
But if you opt to stay in a hotel, bed-and-breakfast offers just that – breakfast, with no lunch or dinner. Half-board means you'll receive two meals a day – typically breakfast and dinner, while full board offers the three main meals.
All-inclusive hotels offer the three main meals and drinks on top – and usually snacks and drinks throughout the day without any additional cost.
Some companies offer ‘ultra all-inclusive' which means things like waterspouts activities are also included in the price. If you have children, then I suggest opting for either half-board or all-inclusive accommodation, depending on how adventurous you are.
For example, if you're the type of family that has their breakfast then disappears to explore for the day, returning in the late afternoon, half-board is your best bet.
Or if you enjoy ‘fly and flop' holidays (i.e. sitting around the hotel or the beach all day), then it's more cost-effective to choose an all-inclusive break.
17. Turn off your heating
It's easy to forget to turn off your heating when you go away – and so many people do, so set yourself a reminder alarm in the hours before you have to leave.
If it's winter, it's probably wiser to keep your heating on, but turn your thermostat right down to avoid your pipes freezing whilst you are away.
18. Get yourself a tourist card
I use these all the time when I go away as they can save you so much money in the long run. Most cities worldwide now offer City Passes, giving you free or reduced entry into major tourist attractions, public transport and sights.
A word of warning before you buy – check out what is being offered and work out if you'd definitely visit the majority of the places in the buy vicodin los angeles first place, otherwise it will be money wasted.
19. Get the right insurance
If you are planning on taking two or more trips a year, it's often cheaper to buy annual travel insurance for the family.
As an example, an annual policy with Holiday Safe starts from £13-£18 in Europe for one year and £25-£31 for worldwide cover.
Make sure you check exactly what is covered though – especially if you are going on an active holiday such as a skiing trip, which is seen as higher risk.
20. Buy your food and accessories in advance
Liquids might be banned at security, but food isn't so either make your own packed lunch for the buy levitra pakistan journey or buy snacks and food at the supermarket.
I have a sweet tooth, so I make sure I go to the supermarket to buy large bags of sweets for the journey as the airport hikes up prices by as much as 90%.
Another tip I've learnt is that shops like Poundland are great for picking up travel accessories, so you don't need to spend a fortune on padlocks for suitcases, neck pillows and plug adapters.
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