23 ways to cut the cost of your holiday

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By in Student Travel. Updated April 2015.

Having the summer of your dreams doesn’t have to cost you the earth! You could save £100s on your holiday with these tips.summerholidayinbetweenersTravelling to somewhere like Dubai may always remain a little out of your league, but there’s nothing to say you can’t enjoy a truly wicked holiday for minimal dollar.

We’ve come up with the ultimate list of ways you can bag a top trip without having to break the bank and, because we’re nice, we’re going to share them with you.

Read this and you’ll never need to spend your summer in a termite infested cave on some deserted Greek island again. Unless termites are your thing of course… But that’s just weird.

21 top tips

  1. Travel with friends

    friendsNo holiday of a lifetime would be complete without your bezzies to share it with you. So make sure to pack them; they can probably bring the cost down too.

    Sharing rooms and booking in groups will often lower the price , or even better if your friend lives abroad just crash at theirs!

    On a serious note though, make sure you do actually get along with these people, as you wouldn’t want to spend a week at someone’s house who you don’t actually get along with…

  2. Snag cheap flights

    planePerhaps one of the most essential parts of going on your jolly holiday is the flights and they can be real a deal breaker in terms of cost.

    Don’t fall for the rookie error of just typing “cheap flights” into Google and going for the first one. Make sure to always shop around for your flights; everything is online now anyway these days, so there’s no excuse not to price check. You can even get a website to do it all for you.

    Skyscanner, TravelSupermarket and FlightsDirect are all great options with a good track record of bargains, especially if you’re flexible. If you’re looking to go pro on finding cheap flights, make sure to check out our top tips.

  3. Say no to in-flight extras

    planefoodIf you’re flying with a budget airline, you might find your bargain prices are quickly dwarfed by a mounting list of extras.

    Some extras, such as the privilege of choosing your own seat or boarding the plane first, you’ll just have to suck up and learn to live without.

    Others, however, such as earplugs or food should simply be a case of bring your own. While you’re not allowed to take liquids on a plane you can take food, so stock up before you go to avoid extortionate prices. Just try not to bring anything too smelly!

  4. Wangle cheap insurance

    skiingWhile insurance might seem like a luxury you can’t afford on holiday, you’ll be kicking yourself when you end up in the back end of beyond with no hope of getting home.

    At the very least, you should always make sure you’ve got a valid European Health Insurance Card, which is totally and 100% free, so there really is no excuse.

    However, this card will only cover you for basic health treatment within the EU, so it’s really not a replacement for insurance. You might think it’s going to add on big bucks, but choose wisely and you’ll only have to shell out a few quid.

    We’ve got all the lowdown on cheap travel insurance over on a separate guide here.

  5. Check out private sales

    privatesecretIf you’re looking for a little bit of luxury in your life, but can’t afford the hefty price tag, then make sure to check out private sales websites.

    Sites like Voyage Prive, Secret Escapes or even the Top Secret section on Lastminute.com can offer luxury bargains with up to 70% off the usual price tag.

    You will have to sign up for these websites though and they won’t appear on price comparison websites, but seriously, it’s well worth the hassle.

  6. Look into house or villa rentals

    villasAnother option for those looking to live in the lap of luxury but not wanting to shell out serious dollar is looking into villa or room lettings in prime locations.

    Sites such as Airbnb or Holiday Lettings let private individuals list their own rooms, apartments or villas and generally you can find top-notch stuff for the fraction of a price of hotels (especially if there’s a large group of you).

    Do take some care with private rentals though; make sure to check out the reviews of a place first and always go through an umbrella site like Airbnd or Holiday Lettings as opposed to a seller’s private website.

  7. Brave your fears of hostels

    hostelSo it might sound like the start of a dodgy horror movie, but we promise that hostels aren’t all dingy rooms and back street murders these days.

    If you’re willing to forgo some luxury, then hostels are a great option and, for the most part, are clean, friendly and have the amenities you need. Many also have the option of private rooms as well.

    Sites like HostelWorld or HostelBookers are a great place to start and you can compare various hostels across the globe.

    Top tip: search for the best prices on the comparison sites above and then check the price with the Hostel direct as sometimes it could be cheaper (but sometimes not)…

  8. Turn off your mobile roaming data

    roamingSo you’ve been good abroad, not made any calls or texts but when you get home you realise you’ve somehow clocked up a hefty hundred pound bill.

    Smartphones, for all their wonderful traits, are like black holes for data what with Facebook, Twitter, emails and more coming straight to your phone.

    So, wise up and make sure you turn off roaming data before you leave the country. The social media detox will probably do you good anyway.

  9. Check your passport

    mrbeanpassportphotoIt’s all very well knowing you’ve got a passport, but just like most useful things in life, they do have an expiry date, so make sure to check before you book.

    Not only are you often refused travel if you’ve only got a short date left, renewal fees jump massively if you need a short turnaround. So to avoid any nasty surprises make sure to check out the date in advance and re-apply as soon as possible.

  10. Look at package holidays

    cocktailsallinclusiveBooking a holiday can be a complicated game, especially with all this comparison malarky and pulling all the components together.

    Even if you have saved a fortune on flights or rooms by using our tips, make sure to check out similar package holidays too; you could find they’re a hell of a lot cheaper.

    Basically, what we’re saying all the way through is check out all your options; you might find deals in places you didn’t expect.

    There’s even companies such as Invasion that run student specific package holidays.

  11. Get travel guides and phrase books from the library

    travelsignsSave yourself from any awkward misunderstandings without having to splash valuable funds by taking a trip to your local library first.

    You’ll find they pretty much all stock a good range of phrase books and visitor’s guides (including Lonely Planets), which you can pack with you in your luggage for free.

    Just make sure not to leave them behind or drop them in the pool or you could face a fine.

  12. Call home for free

    waitingforcallWhenever you go abroad, you’re always leaving someone behind. And that someone is probably pooing their pants about you.

    Keeping in touch with friends and family can be a huge hidden cost of holidays and the worst bit is you don’t realise until you get home.

    Make sure you don’t fall into the calling death trap and set yourself up a Skype account for video and audio calls or join a service like WhatsApp for texts. All you need to do is find a free WiFi hotspot and you can contact away, without fear of any nasty surprises.

    Even if you can’t find free internet, it’s much cheaper to pay for half an hours access than use your mobile on foreign rates.

  13. Use price comparison sites

    gocompareOne of the quickest and easiest ways to compare prices on thousands of rooms and packages is to look at a price comparison site like Trivago.

    While these sites won’t be able to see anything that’s in a private sale, they will show you offers from all of the big players, and unlike some other sites won’t charge a hefty booking fee.

  14. Spend your money right

    moneySo you’ve counted out all your pennies and made a super awesome budget (we love budgets) and worked out how much you can spend on holiday. Sorted right?

    Wrong. When it comes to splashing the cash abroad, there’s a whole lot more to think about than just how much you’re allowed to burn. Always make sure to convert your money into foreign currency before you go abroad and shop around to get the best rates.

    If you’re uncomfortable with carrying large wads of cash around with you, now is probably a good time to mention travellers cheques, which have some extra security when it comes to theft or loss.

    Also make sure to check out our guide on how to get the best rates on spending on a credit or debit card when out of the country.

  15. Make your own lotions and potions

    bottlespotionslotionsYou won’t be wanting to lug around massive bottles of shampoo and conditioner around with you, but neither will you want to spend over the odds on travel size versions.

    You can pick up small empty bottles for around a pound on the high street, then just decant what you need into them. Sorted.

  16. Download free travel apps

    appThere’s an app for pretty much everything you could ever want, so make sure to check out ones that can help you plan and keep organised.

    Google Translate has a free app to help you make sense of what people are saying on the go, while Navfree is a free to use SatNav app to stop you from getting lost.

    Make sure to download them before you go though to stop any hefty data charges.

  17. Consider alternatives to flying

    busmegaSo it’s holiday time, but does that necessarily mean you have to get a flight? If you don’t mind a longer haul then check out coaches – Megabus can get you to Belgium, France, Germany or The Netherlands and leave you change from a twenty.

    If you are going to Europe then make sure to check out offers on the Channel Tunnel and ferry crossings too (EuroStar); you never know where you could snap up a bargain.

    Similarly you could just make travelling all part of the fun and go inter-railing across Europe – check out our guide on how to prepare.

  18. Be flexible

    flexibleyogaSo you’ve probably heard this one a zillion times before, but being flexible really will help you snag all the best deals.

    Try and stay away from typical school holiday dates and half terms too, as tour operators will really hike the prices then. Oh, and they will be lots of screaming children too and no one wants that.

  19. Travel overnight

    sleepingIf you’re the kind of irritating so and so that can fall asleep anywhere, it makes sense to book an overnight flight or crossing.

    Many operators will slash prices at inconvenient times, but if you’re the kind of person who could sleep through the apocalypse, you’ll still end up with a decent night’s kip anyway.

  20. Go local

    localWhether it’s beer or food, don’t just go for brands you know and trust – travelling is about experiencing new stuff after all.

    You’ll also find imported brands a hell of a lot more expensive, so be adventurous and try something new, even if it’s really just to save yourself money.

  21. Take student ID

    studentiddiscountIt might not be the first thing you think to pack, but even abroad your student card could land you some nifty savings, especially at museums or galleries.

    If you’re thinking about getting an NUS Extra student card anyway, it might be worth upgrading it to an International Student Identity Card, it’s only an extra £2.99.

  22. Get a “holiday job”

    Work AbroadInstead of saving money on your holiday why not earn it too! There’s loads of jobs out there for holiday makers from club reps and bar work to something as big as teaching English abroad (although that might be a long holiday).

    Try and pick a job that won’t take up too much of your time so that you can still have fun of course. It’s still a holiday after all.

  23. Do it yourself/Backpacking

    Backpacking2If you are a real trailblazer, why not try and plan out your holiday on a shoestring. You could travel round Europe and try couch surfing or even go to “visit” some foreign relatives.

    It does take more effort and sometimes means giving up a lot of luxuries but the savings can speak for themselves.

Got any top tips we’ve missed or have you had the holiday of a lifetime on a shoe string budget? Make sure to let us know your experiences in the comments below!

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4 Responses to “23 ways to cut the cost of your holiday”

  1. Jessica

    24. Sep, 2015

    My way to save money on holiday trips is to buy tickets in advance. I monitor the prices and buy the cheapest. Unfortunately, it requires a lot of time.

    Reply
  2. Mary

    02. Jul, 2015

    Another point on drink on planes, it’s fine to take stuff on as long as you purchase it after security, so buy water or something there. But be aware with connections as some mean you go through security again!

    Reply
  3. Maxine Chivers

    15. Aug, 2014

    I suggest staying in dorms in backpacker or youth hostels. I was able to go to Iceland and camp there in its capital city. I was able to stay with relatives in Australia and Canada.

    Reply
  4. Maxine Chivers

    15. Aug, 2014

    I like your suggestion of taking your own food on a plane. You could also put soft drinks like fruit juice in 100ml bottles. One clear bag can have around 4 bottles into it. I travel with two others so we can take 3 clear bags. Security at airports are okay with these. I have tried that on Easy Jet and been successful.

    Reply

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