Top tips for cheap travel from cheap vacation expert Chelsea Dickenson
We all feel the pressure.
And with vacations often seen as a luxury, overseas jaunts may well be one of the first things to be felt as the cost of living crisis deepens.
But wait; there are still plenty of easy ways to spend that all-important holiday without breaking the bank. After all, given the past two years, we deserve it.
There are many easy ways to have that all-important vacation without breaking the bank.
BEFORE YOU LEAVE
Choose a less popular location
Desperate to visit a particular country? Opt for a lesser-known city or area, rather than a popular or coastal destination. Flight and hotel costs will likely be much lower, and you can still vacation in the country you love.
The same goes for stays. Research by whom? Travel found that travelers could save up to £400 on hotel rooms during a week-long stay in the UK by staying within a few miles of a hotspot.
Many of us are drawn to cheap flights and accommodation, but it’s actually your day-to-day expenses that often push you over budget. Numbeo (numbeo.com) is the world’s largest cost of living database and a great tool for comparing the average cost of restaurant meals, taxis, and supermarket staples, among other things, in destinations around the world . Some of the cheapest European countries are Croatia, Montenegro, and Portugal.
Use comparison sites
Check your flight costs with a comparison site such as Skyscanner, Kayak or Google Flights, which will refer you to an airline or online travel agency to book your flights. But remember – your contract is with the person you’re booking with, so always check the fine print.
It may sound crazy, but I’ve already saved £40 returning from Rome in business class rather than economy class
If you’re really trying to cut costs, consider indirect flights. They can be much cheaper and layovers are often short.
Overall flight costs
It’s worth considering how much it will cost to get to and from an airport at that time, and whether you need bags (a standard easyJet seat, for example, now only allows a small bag under the front seat).
These are the two areas that can make a cheap flight less cheap, and it can be more beneficial to book a more expensive flight.
Do you need it?
Many budget airlines offer a package that includes baggage, seat reservations and priority boarding.
However, it may be cheaper to add these items individually later in the booking process.
Watch business class
It may sound crazy, but I’ve already saved £40 returning from Rome in business class rather than economy, so it’s worth a try.
Search for car rental prices
If you need to rent a car, always check the price before booking your flights and accommodation, as it can sometimes surprise you. If you’re in trouble, try the ‘Car Airbnb’, turo.com
Book first where to stay
Try booking a hotel for a Sunday night, says Chelsea – it’s often the cheapest night in a hotel. So move your weekend from Friday to Sunday to Saturday to Monday
It’s likely that your accommodation will be more expensive than your flights, so research that cost first. Some websites, including Airbnb and Booking.com, will allow you to search entire countries (Spain) and continents (Europe). Then use the filters to find the perfect spot within your budget.
Search for a specific hotel on Google Hotels, click on “see prices”, then click on the arrival date to see a calendar with the costs per night.
Found great prices on comparison sites? Try calling the hotel directly to see if they can match, or better yet, offer you a lower price.
If you’ve booked somewhere with free cancellation, there’s a smart website called Pruvo.com that will monitor the price for you and prompt you to rebook if the cost drops.
Book a standard room, then politely ask for a free upgrade. You can email in advance or ask during check-in.
Some companies match prices, so if you manage to find your accommodation at a lower price later, you may be able to get a credit or even a refund.
If you’ve booked somewhere with free cancellation, there’s a smart site called Pruvo.com who will monitor the price for you and prompt you to rebook if the cost drops.
Exchange your house
Stay for free
House sitting lets you stay somewhere for free in exchange for looking after someone’s house, garden, or maybe even pets. Trusted House Keepers (trusthousesitters.com) is a popular site for traveling pet sitters, but Nomador (nomador.com) has a free membership if you want to test the waters.
Try Sunday nights
It’s often the cheapest night in a hotel, so move your weekend from Friday-Sunday to Saturday-Monday.
Prepaid travel cards
If you need cash, use moneysupermarket.com to compare prices. M&S and the post office often have the best rates, while airports invariably have the worst
Say goodbye to transaction fees by getting a prepaid travel card, which you can apply for online. They don’t need a credit check, you use them like a debit card and just top up your money from your bank account using an app. Both Revolut and Wise have free accounts, but don’t forget to check the fine print.
Do not withdraw cash at airports
If you need cash, use moneysupermarket.com to compare prices. M&S and the post office often have the best rates, while airports invariably have the worst, so avoid them at all costs.
Download taxi app
If public transport isn’t enough, find out if companies such as Uber, Bolt and Free Now operate, as they can be cheaper than standard taxis.
Pay in local currency
Pay with a card? Always opt for the local currency rather than the British pound, in order to avoid fees.
Check data roaming costs
Data roaming costs are back on many networks, so check how much it will cost. Consider “tethering,” which allows a phone to share its Internet with others.
Store salt in a mini travel bag
When staying in self-catering accommodation, fill small bottles and jars with salt, pepper and sugar, and fill a travel shampoo bottle with olive oil for the liquids bag. Then you won’t need to buy them in full size.
Book a free walking tour
It’s great for getting an idea of a neighborhood. Ask your guide for the most affordable places to go.
Too Good To Go is an app available in 17 countries that connects customers with restaurants and cafes with unsold surplus food. Enter your location, scroll through the treats available near you, and tap “book” to pick them up later. It’s cheap and it’s green.