Make sure you’re fully prepared for your holiday this year – so you don’t leave yourself short of cash before you jet off – with these holiday saving tips.
It’s getting to that time of year that we all need a holiday – or at least I do. However, holidays can be expensive and, even if you have saved up carefully throughout the year, there are often expenses that crop up while you’re away that you just didn’t think about.
Here, I will outline the best way to have a great time on holiday, without feeling skint on the journey home.
Holiday saving tips:
Book tickets in advance
Some things are better planned well in advance. When we were younger, we would go on fantastic holidays and we felt very lucky, to which my dad would always say: ‘The more you research, the luckier you get’.
Train tickets are a great example of this. The optimum time to book a train is 10-12 weeks in advance – I saved 40% on my last trip to York doing this.
I love the latter of these because you can exchange £10 of Tesco Clubcard points for £20 to use on the site. Both of these sites show you the best deals and cheapest tickets – which can sometimes be surprising.
I was shown on redspottedhanky.com that I was cheaper to travel by first class on the way to Wales, which included free lunch and plenty of cups of tea! A win-win for sure.
As well as this, I have a railcard. If you take even a couple of long distance trains a year, these are well worth having (but note that they often have restrictions for at peak time). I have a 16-25 railcard which costs £30 a year or £70 for three years, but it saves me a third on train fares it’s paid for itself after a couple of long-distance trips!
If you are planning to use the train while abroad, check to see if you can get a short term tourist card for while you are there. A one day unlimited access card for a Bavaria train pass in Germany is just 23€ so you can spend the day going from city to city without it costing a fortune.
If you are going skiing or hillwalking, chair lift passes are a must, and can often be paired with a local bus pass. Research is key here, so it’s worth investing some time before you go to see the best deals.
For me, eating the local food is always a great part of the holiday. However, eating out every night can become a bit expensive.
If you are somewhere that you can cook your own meals, consider having your lunch as the meal out – less people eat out for lunch in a restaurant, so there are often some great deals, meaning that you can still enjoy the tastes of the country, while paying half the price. Just pop into the supermarket on the way home to pick up some ingredients for a budget dinner at home.
If your evening meal is included in the price of the hotel, lunch can still be cheap. Head to the local supermarket and pick up some ingredients for sandwiches to last you the time you’re there.
You can have a picnic every day, which can be a really different way to spend time with the people you are with. Try to include this into your plans, and choose a really nice viewpoint, beach or market square to eat your packed lunch in.
When it comes to eating out at night, try to think like a local. Not only will you get a more authentic experience, you will avoid being ripped off by tourist prices. Again – the more you research, the luckier you get.
Try looking on Trip Advisor before you go to find places that offer good value for money, and write down a list before you head off. Also, once you get to your hotel, ask the owner for some recommendations of more local, cheaper places off the beaten track.
Don’t exchange your money away
If you are going abroad, don’t be stung by the exchange rate. Rule one is an easy one: do not exchange your money at the airport on the day – it is almost guaranteed to be more expensive.
Before you go, check to see where is offering the best travel exchange rates – travel agents, banks, the post office and some supermarkets all offer currency exchange.
Secondly, don’t use your normal bank card abroad – it can be a very costly procedure. Instead, get a travel card that you load with money before you go – you put a choice of currency onto the MasterCard (or even get one with dual currency) and you get the going rate at that time.
You can use this in any place that takes Mastercard – it’s free to use in restaurants and shops, but there is a charge for using a hole in the wall. Make sure you keep it in credit though, as there are charges if you go over your limits.
Be free on holiday
If you’re going to a major city on your holiday, you are bound to find loads of tours and attractions with expensive entry fees, however there is so much to see and do for free.
Again, Trip Advisor is a fountain of information, so you can see what is worth going to. Museums don’t have to be boring, so many these days have interactive stations to make it more interesting for children, and they can learn so much from the experience.
Another great free activity is going for walks. If you pick up some brochures that include a free map, you can draw out a route that goes through some of the top places to visit (making sure to mark off a special spot for that packed lunch).
Often main cities will have church spires or towers that you can climb up and see the city in a completely different way. I only recently discovered that my hometown of Glasgow has this, and so was a tourist for the day in my own city – so if you’re really struggling for cash you can have a holiday in your own town.
So get packed up, and ready to go on holiday armed with these top holiday saving tips. Just remember – the more you research, the luckier you get.
Lorna Beattie is a 20 year old geography and maths student at Glasgow University, and she uses money saving tips to help stretch her tight student budget. She likes to prove that you can still have a great life, without spending lots of money.
Lorna Beattie is a student at Glasgow University, and she uses money saving tips to help stretch her tight student budget. She likes to prove that you can still have a great life, without spending lots of money.