Travelling is good for the mind, body, and spirit, but it can be pretty bad for the wallet. If you're ready to skip out of town, but want to save a few pounds so you're still in good shape when you get home, here are seven ways you can save money while travelling.
1. Be flexible with your flight dates
The difference between Sunday and Tuesday can mean several hundred pounds in savings. Instead of being hard and fast on your dates, leave a little wiggle room if you can so as you can snatch up the best deal.
2. Pack lunches
One of the most expensive parts of any trip is meal time. Sure, you'll probably want to treat yourself to an awesome dinner while you're away, but you don't have to spend every pound in cafes. Instead, fill up your hotel fridge with salad, fruit, veg and bread from the supermarket so as you can fill your family's tummies without spending your whole wage-packet in restaurants.
3. Fly during unpopular hours
You're getting to the same place, whether you fly out at 5pm or midnight. Why not choose the flight nobody else wants to be on? If it’s money you’re looking to save, then choosing a flight at a unpopular hour could be any easy way to do this.
4. Live like a local
People who live in tourist destinations don't abide by tourist prices. They've got their own affordable out-of-the-way places they use to dine, and they stay true to the people who do great things for their communities.
Chat it up with locals when you're at a bar or standing in a check-out line. You'll be amazed at the gems locals are willing to help you uncover! You could even ask your hotel staff where they’re favourite haunts are to avoid the tourist hotspots and find something really genuine with normal prices.
5. Be a frequent flyer
Even if you only get to fly once in a blue moon, it pays off to have a membership with a major airline. Frequent flyer mileage adds up pretty quickly, and if you're getting hotels and rental cars on the same account, you'll double your benefits.
Frequent flyer mileage isn't only applicable to flight discounts; you can also use it for upgrades with the airline, discounted hotels, and cash-back rewards, depending on the program your airline-of-choice uses. If your airline of choice offers gift cards, you could even consider waiting until the winter months to purchase these; they get discounted at the end of the year. (This tip could be especially helpful if you’ve been thinking about a Christmas holiday vacation getaway).
6. Call the hotel directly
Most people don't realise that even discounted fares online aren't the lowest price a hotel is willing to offer. In fact, when you utilise a third-party service, you're often paying more because you're paying for that company's service fees.
Cut through the expensive extras by calling the hotel directly. Ask if there are any specials available. If you'll be coming in late, you can often get great deals because the hotel already knows how many rooms it will (or won't) sell.
This is one instance in life when it's great to be late to the party!
7. Check out free days
Once you know where you're going, pen all the places that would be great for your family to visit. This is just a brainstorming session, so you don't need to put anything down in a particular order.
Once you've filled out your list with plenty of possible options, look online to see if any of them offer free days or special offers. Zoos, museums, and aquariums, for example, have a habit of offering free days at random times or BOGOF deals on tickets. If you can save yourself from paying entry fees for fun things, you've got extra money for something else you may not even have budgeted for!
The key to saving money while travelling comes by being proactive and spending time planning. Make sure you've checked out the current prices for everything from hotel stays and flights to day-trip getaways.