No matter if your budget is £5,000 or £500, here are some top tips for travelling on a budget and to make your money stretch further.
1. Get the best travel fare
If you need to fly to your holiday destination, use a comparison site such as Skyscanner or Travel Supermarket (which also compares holidays). If you’re flexible, you can set up a fare alert on Tripadvisor to ensure you get the best deal.
Sign up to Eurostar’s newsletter so that you never miss their travel deals and they also have a dedicated Offers section on their website.
2. Use your air miles
If you haven’t already, sign up to an airline’s reward programme such as British Airway’s Executive Club. Every time you fly, book a hotel, holiday or car hire you will earn Avios, which can then be used towards a flight. I signed up around eight years ago and have Bronze status (status is based on tier points). This means I can use the business class check-in, board after first and business class and I get 25% extra Avios for every booking. I’ve already used some of my miles to fly to Bologna and have 150,000 miles left. To give you an example of what that can get me, I can fly from London to Sao Paulo in Economy for an Avios price of 39,000 Avios and I just need to pay the taxes, fees and carrier charges.
3. Book your flight and hotel together
No matter which airline you fly with, or if you’re travelling with Eurostar, you will always save money by combining your hotel and flight/train than if you paid for them separately. However, always check the hotel’s own website first for any exclusive offers or special deals that include extras such as an evening meal in their restaurant, a free room upgrade or massage.
4. Choose a package holiday
They’re not for everyone, but package holidays can offer exceptional value for money as all your food and drink (excluding premium drinks) are included. Popular destinations that offer package deals are Mexico, Egypt, The Maldives, The Seychelles and The Caribbean and they can range from two star to five star.
5. Get the best currency deal
There is lots of advice and comparison tables on Money Saving Expert but the top advice is to NEVER buy your currency from the airport as you will get a terrible deal on the exchange rate plus you usually have to pay commission too. My top advice is to get your travel money from your local Post Office or, if you’re in London, Thomas Global Exchange (be sure to choose their Fast Track Branch Collection).
6. Research getting to and from the airport
I often find that one of the biggest expenses can simply be getting to and from the airport. For example, a taxi from JFK in New York to anywhere in Manhattan costs a flat fare of $52 plus tolls (expect to pay around $57). Research in advance if there are trains, buses or even shuttle buses that can get you to your destination without putting a major dent in your holiday spending money. Be sure to ask your hotel if they offer a pick up and drop off service. If you prefer to travel by taxi, Google local taxi firms and ask for quotes so that you can book the cheapest offer. Travelling from a London Airport? Read my post on how to get from London airports to the city.
7. Turn off your data roaming
Although data roaming charges within the EU are set to end within two years, if you are abroad it would be wise to switch off your data roaming and your voicemail to avoid exorbitant charges. Check with your phone provider as to data bundles (for example, my provider offers data roaming up to 50MB for £3 per day) or whether your data allowance can be used abroad. Most places, around the world, offer free wifi so there’s not much risk of being totally disconnected. Plus, your hotel is likely to offer free wifi or a pay-per-day charge.
8. Do free stuff
Wherever you are travelling to, there will always be lots of interesting and fun things to do that are free or are really inexpensive. If you’re heading to the Big Apple, here are 28 awesome things to do in New York – most of which are free, like visiting The Vessel pictured below. London is a really expensive city to visit but there are tons of free things to do – here’s a whole blog post on free things to do in London.
Be sure to ask for people’s (particularly locals) top tips on Twitter using the hashtag #ttot.