There’s no denying that I can be a bit of a penny-pincher.
However, this totally goes against the fact that I also have quite expensive taste, which means I can spend hours upon hours looking for the cheapest rate going at the most expensive hotel in town. Trips away are probably the thing that I’m most happy to loosen the purse strings for though, which means I’m definitely not a budget traveller by any stretch of the imagination, but I’ll always try to make sure I’m getting the very best deal for what I’m spending my hard-earned cash on.
Even if you’re planning a once in a lifetime getaway, there are still easy ways to cut back on costs without having to cut back on luxury.
Finding cheap flights
Probably your first port of call, flights like everything else can vary a great deal in price depending on when you book and with who. You’re probably already comparing prices across airlines, but if you’re flexible with dates then try using Skyscanner to find the cheapest time to travel.
Just enter where you want to leave from and where you want to go, and click on ‘whole month’ in the dates tab to search for prices 30 days at a time – you can then easily pick and mix the best days to travel and at the lowest price.
If you haven’t got a city in mind, you can also leave the ‘destination’ box empty, and search for the cheapest flights going out of your chosen airport in any given month, meaning a cheap break can be snapped up at any time of the year.
Having done this just recently, I found return flights from Bristol to Venice for less than £50 each! We nearly booked this, but ended up sticking with our original plan to visit Lisbon instead.
If you’re not already signed up to a cashback site, you’re missing out on what is probably the easiest way to save money when shopping online (and not just for travel).
The top two sites for this in the UK are TopCashBack and Quidco, with the former being my preferred choice as I find it pays much quicker and offers better rates, but there’s no stopping you from signing up to both if you’re serious about your savings!
All you have to do is visit an online retailer through the cashback site first, and then browse and shop as normal. If you end up making a purchase and meet the terms and conditions of the deal (like not using another discount code, for example), you’ll end up getting back a small percentage of your total spend, or a set amount.
For example, booking a hotel through Expedia right now will get you 12.6% of your total spend back, if you click through TopCashBack first. So, if your hotel costs you £300, you’ll save £37.80 instantly.
There’s almost always cashback to be found – flights, hotels, airport parking, car rental, travel insurance… the list goes on, and the savings can quickly add up.
This is one I’ve been pretty poor with in the past, often going straight to the post office a few days before my trip to exchange money at whatever rate it is they’re offering at the time.
Like most things, currency can also be ordered online – you can have the money delivered to your door, or to your departure airport for collection on the day you leave. I’ve never used this so I can’t comment, but it’s definitely worth comparing exchange rates online to make sure you’re getting the most for your money. The savings won’t be significant if you’re just after a hundred Euros or so, but for extended stays you could end up paying the same for much less currency in return.
There are also specialist travel credit cards you could consider. For example, the Halifax Clarity card doesn’t charge a non-Sterling fee, and is also free to use for cash withdrawals anywhere in the world. You’ll have to pay interest on withdrawals from the day you take it out, but this will probably still be much better than using a bureau de change, as the rate offered by the card is extremely competitive in comparison.
Exchange rates can also sometimes be better when you arrive at your destination, so you could check this too before you leave to see if it’s worth waiting until you get there.
There’s a lot of choice when it comes to travel money, so do your research on how to get the best exchange rates and see what works best for you.
Finding a cheap holiday deal
There’s a lot of membership-only, discount travel sites out there nowadays who offer ‘flash sales’ on short breaks and luxury holidays. I’m currently subscribed to three – Secret Escapes, Voyage Privé, and Travel Zoo, a site which shares good deals but doesn’t sell them directly.
With holidays advertised for as much as 70% off, they can all seem like unmissable deals at first, but that doesn’t mean you still won’t be able to find it cheaper elsewhere. Take 2 mins to price it up yourself first to make sure you’re not paying more than you need to.
Avoid data roaming charges
Using your phone abroad can be incredibly costly, but there are certain add-ons which you can pay for on top of your normal tariff that are designed for use abroad. These are still very pricey though compared to your usual charges, but will still be much better than standard data roaming fees.
However, using your phone abroad comes at no extra cost if you’re with the mobile network, Three. If you’re travelling to one of the 19 destinations they currently offer this at, you could potentially save hundreds of pounds by getting a free pay-as-you-go SIM card to use while you’re away.
Check out the destinations on offer and how much you could save on the Three website.
Do you have more tips to share? Tell me in the comments!