Sunday, 25 September 2016

How to have an awesome summer holiday on a budget

These days you can't so much as open up Instagram without luxurious far-off getaways being paraded around in front of you, but in reality most of us just can't stretch to that every 4-6 months. I firmly believe that everyone should be able to see the world, no matter their circumstances, so I've put together my top tips for curating the best trip possible for your money, along with a few photos from ours.

I'm extremely lucky that growing up my parents always took us to amazing places. From Cuba, Mexico and the Dominican Republic, to Greece, there were so many beautiful beaches and luxurious hotels to explore.

Now I'm older and paying for my own summer getaways I've started to realise just how hard they must have worked to afford those trips. We're currently saving for a mortgage deposit while renting in an expensive area, so most 5 star transatlantic destinations are a bit out of reach if we want to eat for the rest of the year!

That said, there's no reason you can't put together a nice, relaxing summer holiday that caters to a tight budget. Last year we traveled to Marrakech on an absolute shoestring, and this year we've just got back from a week in Turkey. Our carefully selected 4 star all inclusive holiday cost just shy of £350 per person including flights, accommodation, food, drink and transfers, and we spent barely anything while there. Here's how we did it:

Stunning Fethiye bay, just a short taxi ride from our hotel

Be flexible

It's no secret that the school holidays have a huge impact on prices and availability - the difference between one week and the next can be as much as double for certain flights and destinations. If like us you don't have kids, it pays to be open to other dates. In most countries tourist season starts around April time and lasts until October. Outside of this many resorts and towns all but close down, but going towards the beginning or end of the season can mean not only more bearable heat and less crowded beaches, but much lower prices.

Pricing can even be affected by the time of day and day of the week you want to travel. Being open to weird flight times (for example our flight home from Turkey took off at 2am) can sometimes take as much as £50-100 per person off the final cost of your holiday. For the sake of being a little tired it's well worth considering.

The adults only pool at our hotel

The best £4.99 I ever spent on eBay

Do your research

I know so many people that will only travel on certain airlines and book through certain operaters when it comes to summer getaways. I have my favourites too. I love Thomson/First Choice for pool and beach holidays, and Expedia for city breaks and going off the beaten track as they're always helpful and reliable. That said, there are a huge number of companies out there offering great deals and also plenty of comparison sites. Be prepared to spend a few evenings endlessly searching and comparing before making your choice, or you could miss an amazing deal!

That said, always, always, aaaaalways read reviews and try to find images of where you're going, research a few things to do in the area etc. Our holiday at the beautiful Hotel Greenland was the 3rd cheapest in my search at the time, and I initially wasn't sure if it was for us, but the endless positive reviews - one of which came from my sister who visited last year! - swayed me and it turned out to be even lovelier than we expected!

From our trip to a local farm

Be spontaneous

I'm someone who likes to have things planned and paid for well in advance so I know what's up, but there's a lot to be said for winging it. Our holiday would have been even cheaper if we'd booked it 3 weeks before. Even if you don't have much flexibility around work etc you can still decide on a two week window you'll book off, put aside a chunk of budget and book it much nearer the time to get a big discount. You can then just un-book any extra holiday days either side of the actual trip if you need to hang onto them for something else, or enjoy some time at home before and after. Just be open to a range of destinations, flight times etc and you're bound to find something great.

The gorgeous Sundial restaurant

Sunset cruise in Fethiye bay

Plan your spending

If you're going all inclusive then it's likely you won't need much money at all. I think we spent about £150 while there but we really didn't need to. We went on a day trip to some local ruins booked through the tour operator, as well as a sunset cruise, and did a little bit of shopping. While you can do these for a little less money on your own, you do miss out on a decent tour guide, which is why I like them. We also had a fancy meal out at the Sundial restaurant in Fethiye, but even this rather posh meal in a beautiful setting (see the restaurant terrace above) only cost the equivalent of £35!

If you're self-catering on a budget it's good to have an idea of what your spending limit will need to be each day. You could minimise costs by having breakfast in your apartment in the mornings, or by agreeing to splurge at a couple of restaurants while otherwise eating more cheaply. The choice is up to you.

If you like to get out and about while away, which I always do, look into braving the public transport as well (providing you're in a safe area, which we were but in some countries you may be more isolated or restricted). We used local buses that cost about 20p per way instead of taxis booked by the hotel at £6 a pop, so there was a huge saving there. Walking is also a great way to explore somewhere new providing you can take the heat!

So there you have it. There are plenty of ways to hunt down the best holiday deals and also to save while you're away. Where to next then?


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3 comments

  1. An adults only pool #thedream! Yuour sunset cruise looked awesome too. Lovely images and some great advice.

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