2020 has been a difficult year so far. One thing we as a nation hold dear to our hearts is the rest and relaxation of a holiday. While an exotic trip to Bali might be off the cards this year, Brits are turning to ‘staycations’ for their annual getaway in an effort to switch off and relax without having to leave the country.
So while it may not sound as tropical, swapping the Black Forest for Blackpool, Saskatchewan for Skegness and The Maldives for Melton Mowbray can actually bring a number of benefits. It goes without saying that by staying in the UK you'll make an immediate saving on flights, transfers and expensive foreign hotels but there are many other ways you can cut down the cost of your staycation. In this article we look at 10 of the easiest ways to save money on your staycation this year.
Getting there is half the fun… but not if it ends up costing you a fortune. Here are some tips to cut your spend:
1 - Find the quietest time to go
The last thing you want to start your holiday with is traffic. We all loathe it and it costs time and money. The best thing you can do to counter this is to find the quietest time of day to travel. This could be very early in the morning or last thing at night, but either way it’ll stop you getting stuck on the road for any longer than you should.
Download apps for your phone such as Waze to see how long on average it would take to drive there when leaving at different times throughout the day.
‘But how does this save me money?’ I hear you cry. Well, for each minute you spend either stuck in traffic, or going much slower than you should do, your miles per gallon will be significantly reduced. The smoother the ride is, the less fuel you use, thus lowering the price of the journey.
2 - Fill up your tank for the cheapest price
When going on a road trip, although you might not be spending money on flights, you’ll be paying for petrol. This can be costly depending on how far you travel - but there is a way to find the cheapest fuel while you’re on the road.
There’s an app called PetrolPrices, which will give you the prices of petrol and diesel at different petrol stations in the UK. This is very handy for when you’re on the road and want to find the cheapest prices for petrol and diesel, especially handy in an area you don't know.
You may think you are only saving a few pence per litre, but it can really add up to a considerable saving. Instead of filling up on the motorway for £1.30 a litre, you could instead find a petrol station through the app selling it at £1.15 a litre, which, in turn would save you £7.50 on a 50-litre tank. Do this every time and the money will add up.
Likely to be the biggest expense of your staycation - especially if you prefer a bed to a tent. Here is what to think about:
3 - Find discounted places to stay
If you aren’t opting for a caravan or a camping holiday and need an actual roof over your head - you don’t have to break the bank. If an 'AirBnB' is what you’re looking for and you’re a new customer, you can save £25 on your booking of £250 or more through its 'refer a friend' scheme. So, if you already know someone who has used it before - you can get some free credit (or you can sign up from one account and refer another).
4 - Make a budget for each day
It may sound incredibly simple, but it’s worth doing. Far too many holidays go over budget - purely for the reason that one isn’t set. If you can, set a budget for the whole trip, or a daily basis and stick to it. Split your budget into different categories and factor in things such as entertainment, food, travel and accommodation.
This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t relax and enjoy your holiday, but keeping a rough check on how much you’re spending each day will keep you on track. The last thing you want is to come home and have to tighten your belts just for a few days on not monitoring your spending.
Arguably the most important thing is having some nice food to feast on - but it doesn’t always have to come at a premium.
5 - Bring your own food
There’s nothing quite like a home-cooked meal… and there’s nothing as cheap either. If your accommodation has a kitchen, or somewhere to prepare food, it’s a great idea to either bring your own - or stop off at a local Aldi or Lidl to make your meals.
Even if it’s just microwave meals, sure it might not be the healthiest or tastiest, but it’ll save you a decent stack of cash. If your accommodation doesn’t have anywhere to make food, you can still buy some bread and fillings to make your own sandwiches and turn it into a packed lunch for your family if you’re out and about.
6 - Make sure you use restaurant offers
While you can bring your own food with you on a staycation it might take the magic away having to cook for yourself. But fear not - staying in the UK means that there are an abundance of offers available to you.
Firstly, if you’re travelling this August (and away on a Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday), you can get 50% off your food at thousands of restaurants with the Eat Out to Help Out scheme.
At any other time, you can take advantage of discount schemes such as Meerkat Meals or Tastecard in order to get 2 for 1 meals for your group. Only certain chains are included, however, so it’s worth having a look beforehand to see what deals are available.
Keeping the kids (or yourself) entertained doesn’t have to break the bank. There are plenty of ways to cut down your spending:
7 - Find discount vouchers for days out
Now that theme parks, aquariums and leisure centres are back open - it’s a great way to have fun in the British sun. For a large family however - you could end up paying £100s for just a day out. Luckily - there are always discount vouchers for 2 for 1 entry to some of the UK’s biggest attractions.
Right now, on promotional packs of Cadbury’s chocolate, there is an offer that gets you a free ticket, when you purchase one for a full paying adult. You can use more than one at a time, so your whole family can get 2 for 1 entry. Tickets to theme parks and attractions such as Sealife and the Dungeons can cost between £25-50 each and so it could add up to a huge saving.
8 - Go to free attractions
As much as spending money is part and parcel of going on holiday, you don’t have to splurge to have a good time. There are some amazing free things to do in every corner of this country, including museums, beaches and national parks. You’re always sure to find something that can take up a day that won’t take over your wallet. If you’re stuck for ideas, plug your destination into Tripadvisor and it will give you some ideas of local places to visit.
9 - Hit the pool for free
If you wanted a swim on your holiday, there is a cheeky way that you can get access to a local pool without paying for anything.
A lot of gyms around the country offer free trials, so you can experience their gyms, before you start paying for membership. If you find a gym nearby that has a pool, then you can get access to that too! Have a look for chain gyms such as Village Gyms, DW Fitness First, David Lloyd & Bannatyne. If there is one close by, see if they have any free trial offers.
Some of these gyms offer 1 day free passes and some have 2 week trials where, after the trial period is over, they start taking money from you. One caveat to this is - if any of them make you sign up ready for a monthly direct debit after your free trial is over - make sure you cancel before you leave, as it may end up being costly.
10 - Bring some games
If you have a stack of board games at home that you rarely play or if have games/apps on your phone or tablet - why not make use of them?
Block out a night for staying in and having a ‘games night’. It’s pretty much free (except for any drinks you might need) and it’s a nice way to unwind and have fun at the end of a day. If you don’t have any board games, you can always pay a visit to a local charity shop. They are always filled with board games of every kind and are usually no more than a few pounds.
While you may not be heading as far on holiday this year, you can take solace in the fact that it won’t break the bank. With these extra tips, it could mean your staycation will be cheaper than you ever imagined.