Going on holiday can be expensive, but it doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg. There are plenty of ways for people to book and plan their holidays cheaply, but what about when you’re actually at your destination?
Things can easily get very expensive very fast, what with travel, activities, eating in restaurants and staying in hotels. But it doesn’t have to be so bad – there are many ways to reduce the impact on your wallet. Here are some various ideas, suitable for all kinds of holidaymakers.
Youth Hostels: Despite the name, many youth hostels have family rooms! If you imagine grotty, cramped and noisy accommodation, get those ideas out of your head. Youth hostels are definitely no-frills, but if you do your research ahead of time, you will find many clean, well-located and at very least with good sound proofing!
House-swapping: This system have been around for a while now and there are many sites set up to cater for those who would rather switch houses with other travellers than fork out for a hotel room. Make sure you choose who will swap with you based on good reviewers and trust your gut feeling.
Couchsurfing: Fantastic for the single traveller, not so much for families. Couchsurfing is a relatively new phenomenon. The idea is you get to know people through the website and they will offer you accommodation in their home. Usually it is free, although sometimes people exchange services or gifts in exchange for sleeping arrangements! It is also possible for couples to find accommodation, although it is more tricky.
Budget hotels: They are certainly not a romantic or special option, but if you plan to use your hotel room only for sleeping, then why pay extra? Big hotel chains often have locations in many countries across the world and offer very cheap rooms.
Haggle for hotel rooms: Try calling a hotel to ask about room availability. Then leave it a few weeks and call them again – if the room is still available, there is a strong possibility they will be willing to haggle. You can also do this by email if you hate talking on the phone.
Picnic: This is the easiest, but probably the most work. Just head into any cheap local shop and buy food you can prepare easily. It will definitely not be a gourmet meal, but it’s cheap and easy and you can eat outside enjoying some people watching. If you find little local delis, you can also make it a bit special. Imagine a brie and baguette picnic with a bottle of vin rouge in Paris, for example. Yum!
Research: If you do your research ahead of time, you can find out which restaurants and bars locals prefer and hopefully which have the lowest prices. Local knowledge is really important if you want to save money, because otherwise you are unlikely to find places unless you stumble right across them. In addition, I’ve always found that the best places are usually tucked away and you’d need someone to tell you they are there!
Go veggie: Vegetarian options may sound like a drag for some, but you have loads of choice these days. In addition, they are always cheaper than meat menus and sometimes even come in much more generous portions!
Shop at sundown: It depends on where you are, but many shops will sell food cheaper at the end of the day, particularly if it is on or past its sell-by date. Baked good also generally come down in price. Have a look and see.
Coupons: Have a look online before you go and see if there are coupons available to sights or attractions you want to visit. If so, make sure you use them! Also check out prices to see if there are age-related discounts or loyalty schemes.
Go free: In many cities, you will find free attractions everywhere. For instance, in London, most of the museums don’t charge. Particularly in Summer though, it’s easy to have an entire vacation without having to go the paying attractions.
Check your timing: particularly for events such as plays, show and concerts, timing is an issue. Ticket costs vary wildly. Matinees are usually a good bet and cost a fraction of the evening price. Otherwise, find out if standing or cheap tickets are sold on the night. This is the case with many theatres and opera houses, although if you get standing tickets be prepared for it to be hard on the knees! You can also try hanging around the location just before the show begins – you will often find people trying to offload their tickets due to an emergency or change of plan.