How To Holiday on a Budget (13 useful tips)


One of the biggest myths we all tell ourselves about going on holiday is that it will cost us a fortune. Yes, holidays have the potential to be pricey but you have the power to reign in your finances and make sure your holiday is as budget friendly as possible.

A limited budget is nothing to be ashamed of, in fact, the challenge often results in funnier experiences and interesting stories to tell your friends and family. The best things in life are free after all (or cheaper at least!)

'Holiday' written on the sand with sea on the edge - photo taken from bird's eye perspective

Credit: Lawler & Co.

Here are some tips to help get you started on your budget holiday adventure this Summer.

Become a flight searching ninja

Flight comparison sites like Skyscanner are a must when booking a holiday! They will search across every airline and offer online and give you the cheapest priced flight based on your requirements. Hopper goes one step further and gives you insights based on the flight you're seeking out including the expected price right up until your departure.

Don't forget to look up prices in the anonymous or incognito mode on your browser and delete your cookies and history. If companies see that you are interested in a certain flight and keep clicking then they will raise the price based on demand.

Sunset background with skyscanner logo and tagline underneath

Credit: Mark Prince

Be flexible with flight dates and times

This is a tough one for those of us with children, but if you can try to be more flexible with dates, this will save you a fair amount of cash. Many flights are cheaper at awkward times of the day e.g. super early in the morning or throughout the night and some countries have limited flights during certain times of the year.

If you can be flexible and book a flight in the week or at an alternative time of day, chances are you will get a better deal. If you can hack a flight transfer, these also tend to be cheaper.

Buy your flights at the right time

It's difficult to judge the right time to book a holiday. Some of us have to book earlier and there's booking time off from work, school holidays and other considerations to take into account.

You might also decide to book a holiday last minute and sometimes get a better deal. Timing is still a bit of a learning curve in terms of finding the best deal online but just to be safe the average time to save the most money is 10-14 weeks in advance.

Explore the option of rail passes

Red haired woman leaning over train rail to look at view of hills

Credit: Interrail

If you're planning to see a lot on your next holiday in different areas of a country your best bet is purchasing a rail pass. Booking a train ahead of time may save you loads of money but rail passes are a better option if you don't want to stick to a fixed schedule or risk missing your train.

Railcards are particularly valuable if you're planning to visit Europe - these can prove a real bargain! Check for prices at Interrail.

Triple check exchange rates

In order to budget effectively, you should aim to exchange and take a good amount of money before your departure. Sometimes this can be difficult to judge the best deals so I've created a helpful guide to ensure you avoid common misconceptions and get the best exchange deals.

If you do need to exchange whilst abroad, I always use the rule of three: always check three places before changing money to get the best deal. Usually, airports and withdrawing cash from ATMs are the most expensive choices. 

Sleep while travelling

Man and woman talking while in sleeping pods on an overnight bus

Credit: Cabin

Save pennies on an extra night in a hotel by travelling throughout the night. You might not get 5* accommodation on a flight or train but you will save money on booking into a hotel for an extra night. This is especially effective if you're travelling a long distance to an expensive location!

Seek out free Wifi

Finding WiFi abroad is now an essential for travellers. We all need to communicate, google essential information or post some photos on Facebook to make everyone at home envious, of course!

Start with booking accommodation that has WiFi available. It’s convenient to communicate with people back home or even each other while abroad. While you are outside, mobile apps like MandicMagic make sure you are always grinding the networks nearby.

Walk everywhere

Nothing beats walking when you're abroad. You get to see so much more and stop at your leisure. Even if you get lost down narrow streets, you are experiencing the local culture and the best thing is it's FREE. You can also join some free walking tours or even not so free tours if you're feeling daring enough! 

Go off the beaten path

Back of woman walking across a wooden pathway, holding a map with a backpack on. Walking through a green woodland with flowers and trees all around

Credit: WineCountry

It's easy to get sucked into all the tourism-based activities that countries have to offer, but have you ever considered exploring on your own terms? Find cheaper restaurants and eat where the locals eat. Don't ask your hotel for best places to eat or drink, ask them where they go themselves! They will know the best and more importantly, the cheapest places to go.

Visit local markets

Just as dining out can be cheaper in local areas off the tourist map, visiting local markets is guaranteed to help you save some cash. Market places are a great place to soak up culture and the energy is thriving in comparison to a shopping centre.

You can also get insanely cheap deals and haggle with market stall owners. Again, it's a great place to eat authentic food without spending too much.

Skip a course

Restaurants often raise prices in the evening so if you're planning on having lunch out it might be a cheaper option to eat in for dinner. Brunches are great options as they merge two meals into one bill. You could also opt for a larger breakfast or pack your own lunch, especially if you are visiting popular areas, as the menus tend to be more expensive. 

Avoid roaming fees

Hand holding black iPhone

Credit: Mashable

The best way to avoid unexpected phone charges is to use free services like Skype or Whatsapp. You could even buy a local or international SIM card if you are staying a while and making lots of calls.

Top tip! If you use an iPhone, make sure your 'Send as SMS' option is disabled, as you will get stung with texting costs.

Consider a 'staycation'

Finally, going on holiday doesn't have to mean leaving the country. In fact, it doesn't even have to mean leaving your area! You can have plenty of fun and entertainment right on your doorstep.

Check out these fun and free things to do in the Summer with kids.  If you feel like exploring, there are loads of great places to visit here in the UK. Need some inspiration? We've collected a list of free days out that won't break the bank - enjoy!

There are so many more tips out there but these are definitely some of our favourites. If you have any of your own please get in touch!

Collette xx