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Travelling on a budget

Posted By Digital Team

22nd March 2023

With more  of us conscious about keeping money in our pockets, we have put together some tips on how to travel abroad more economically so you won’t have to skip your holiday this year. For many of us, travelling on a budget may not come naturally, so we have put together so handy places to start. 

Research and choose your destination wisely

First up, where you decide to go will definitely have an impact on how much you spend on your holiday. If you have your eye on a popular holiday destination, you may want to consider a similar destination which will give you a lot of similar experiences but at a fraction of the price. Say you want to go to Croatia for the sandy beaches and crystal-clear waters but could do without the hefty price tag which has come along with the popular holiday destination. An alternative to somewhere like Dubrovnik would be Montenegro which would give you similar things to a beach holiday in Croatia but for less. Essentially, before you set your heart on a destination, take a step back and figure out if you can have a similar experience elsewhere for a smaller price.  
Once you have decided on your destination, you can use comparison websites like Skyscanner or Momondo to figure out the cheapest route. You can even book your car hire and hotels through these sites, which will help you get an even cheaper deal. If you are really stuck on where to go, just type in ‘Everywhere’ as the destination and Skyscanner will give you a range of different options with a range of different budgets. Be aware that some of these sites may use cookies to track the deals they have already offered you, so try and use an Incognito window to ensure you get the cheapest deals. 

Be flexible on dates 

What time of the year you go on holiday could make a massive difference to the final cost. For flights, the first four months of the year are often the best time to book, especially during the January sales. If you can, avoid flying out on Fridays (the most popular day) and try unusual trip lengths (not seven or 14 days) to find the best prices. 

If you can help it, try and book your flights in the ‘off-season,’ which means avoiding school holidays, bank holidays and half terms. Plus, the school holidays  are also the times when flights will be busier  so that’s something to bear in mind... 

Usually, the cheapest possible time to travel would be national holiday days, as few people want to travel on New Year's Eve or Christmas day, for example. 

Subscribe to Cheap Flight Newsletters 

If you are serious about finding the cheapest possible flights, you’ll quickly find it can be a time-consuming activity. To help you find the best deals, subscribing to some quick email newsletters can help you along the way. We can recommend the following:

Consider Flying through the night 

If you have been blessed with the superpower of having a good night’s sleep anywhere, it makes sense to book an overnight flight. That way, you will save a fair amount of money and wake up in your holiday destination. 

It's the norm for operators to lower prices at ‘inconvenient’ times, but if you’re able to sleep through the night on a plane, you will be saving on the cost of your flight, and you might even get away with needing a night in a hotel that evening too. 

Stansted Express services run almost all night, with the first train of the day leaving London Liverpool Street at around 4 am, so we can help you get to the airport even at the most awkward of times. You can read more about our train times here.

Plan and stick to your budget

It’s easy to get carried away with spending when you’re having a good time and away from your everyday responsibilities. So, it is always best to set your budget before you leave for your holiday. 
TUI has a great budget holiday calculator where you can get an estimate of how much money you should set aside for your holiday. You can put in your holiday destination, how many people you are taking on holiday, plus whether you will be self-catered etc. And it will pull up a recommended budget. If you want to take it a step further, you can divide that total budget by the total number of days you will be on holiday to determine your daily budget, and this is an incentive to stay on budget because you will know if you go over that daily assigned budget you won’t have enough funds for your whole trip. 

Avoid exchanging your cash at the airport 

With many banks not charging for you to use your debit card abroad, you really don’t need to bring as much cash on holiday as you used to. Often, when you are carrying around lots of cash, it is more tempting to spend it, so using your bank card to pay for food and drink just like you would do at home, may mentally encourage you to stick to your budget. 
That being said, it is always handy to have some cash for emergencies when going to a new and unfamiliar place. Plan ahead and exchange your money at a post office or bureau de change in your local area rather than waiting until you get to the airport. Airport currency services always have the most expensive rates so you will be getting less for your money. We would advise doing a quick Google search in the weeks leading up to your trip to ensure you don’t get caught out by bad exchange rates. Some places even let you reserve your currency before you go to their premises, so you will know exactly how much cash you will be receiving in exchange for your British pounds.

Pack Light, don’t spend more on baggage 

An easy way to avoid unnecessary charges is to pack light for your holiday. Most airlines have capped the cabin luggage you used to be able to bring free of charge. Now you will need to bring a backpack which fits under the seat in front of you and if you bring any additional bags, you run the risk of getting fined.  
A cheap European flight can easily be doubled by adding a suitcase, so think wisely about what you need to bring with you on holiday before packing. If the airline you are flying with is likely to weigh your bags, it’s worth investing in a luggage scale which will help you keep on top of your allowance. There’s nothing worse than getting hit with an unexpected fine at the airport which will have to come out of your overall holiday budget. 

Bring your own snacks on the plane

Even though airlines can be strict about what you bring on the plane, there are rarely any rules about what food you can onboard. By bringing a packed lunch you can skip the £3 packet of crisps and £6 sandwich, meaning you will have more cash to spend on trying new foods on your holiday. 

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