Tuesday, 12 August 2014

TRAVEL < HOW TO SAVE BEFORE & DURING YOUR HOLIDAY!


I am off on holiday again next month and also have a few more trips planned over the next year or so. Travel is something I really need to do for my own sanity and self-actualisation as a human, it really is 'the only thing you can buy that makes you richer'. However, my desire to travel does not mean I will take my eye off the prize and divert from my ultimate goals which means I refuse to just throw caution to the wind financially as I still need to save for my future, so I have come up with a little list that will help both myself and others save money during the booking process and during one's time away on the holiday!

FLIGHTS
* You really must compare your flights before you book them. The best site I have found is 'skyscanner' as it compares all the flights online and brings up the cheapest for you for the dates you select. 
* You don't always have to fly out and return with the same airline, sometimes the cheaper alternative is to book the cheapest flight out with say easyjet and the flight back with ryanair.
* There's no need to bring the entire contents of your house and the kitchen sink; Travel light! Bringing a suitcase can sometimes mean up to £60.00 extra! (or more) Although, If a suitcase is a must, as it will be if you're going for over a week, split the cost with those you are traveling with and share a case, Me and my friends got two suitcases earlier this year between three of us and we have booked one for two of us next month. Another thing about luggage is - YOU MUST BOOK IT BEFORE HAND. Luggage charges are extortionate if you do it on the day at the airport, and If you are already at the airport you may have no other option but to cough up, and that would be a sour start to a nice break away! (happened to me last year haha!). Traveling light is almost a certainty if you wish to travel to a few places too, last year my boyfriend and I traveled to Barcelona, then Madrid and then Valencia, we would have had to pay for and lug our suitcases on all those flights and coaches so it was handy to just have a small carry-on.
* Also, be sure to weigh and measure your luggage before you leave your house so you can avoid any extra costs and/or the awkwardness of emptying and rearranging suitcases in front of hundreds of strangers.
* Be flexible: Book out of season and/or on a weekday (In particular Tuesday or Wednesday), If there is no solid reason for you to be going somewhere in peak season then why do it? The weather can still be just as nice, if not better, before and after the season and the prices are even nicer. Flying on a tuesday and wednesday always seems to be cheaper in my experience as it's usually the days people don't choose. The more flexible you are willing to be, the more your money will get you basically!
* AIRMILES BABY! Myself and my mother have flown to Spain a few times in previous years with her airmiles. I now collect my own, you can get them with almost any supermarket loyalty scheme and why not? You're going to do a food shop anyway so why not reap the benefits of the air miles you earn!

TRANSFERS
* I am usually very lucky, I live 20 minutes away from one of London's major airports so I can almost always get a lift there and If I can't the train is just as easy. So Ask a friend or relative and see if they can take you first and foremost.
* If a lift just isn't an option, seek out your cheapest option, and don't just assume the worst option will be your cheapest as if there are a few of you traveling, it could actually work out more economical for you if you just all shared a taxi. Obviously it depends where you are situated, but research into it beforehand and sniff out the best option for yourselves.
* Make use of age, student and membership discounts: for example, if you are over 60, between the age of 16-25, qualified and disabled or a student you may well be entitled to discounts on public transport, and that's not just in the UK either, I have been given discounts before in both France and Spain with my 16-25 railcard! (Make sure you're form of ID and membership is valid to where you are going!)
* Remember: the slowest option is usually the cheapest option but who's rushing - you're on holiday right? so why not bus or coach it if it'll save you a lot of money!!!

ACCOMMODATION
* Ask to stay at a friends or relatives. I realise I am a very lucky girl when it comes to this, due to the fact my Dad has lived abroad and I myself have lived abroad, we have met lots of people from all over and had the opportunity to have them stay and to then stay with them. We also have a rather large family who live all over which helps. Last year I stayed in my friends houses when we went to Spain and this year we are staying at a relative's place. If you don't know anyone you can stay with in the place you have your eye on, have no fear, there are still free options for you my friend!
* -Free options you hear me say? Well how do you fancy yourself a little Couch Surfing! You can sign up to a site here that entitles you to find people whom are willing to put you up for the night. I have lots of friends who use this site and it is perfectly safe and 'normal' (whatever normal is) and they all tell me about what a fab site and scheme it is. You can choose your nights and cities and it's absolutely frugal as anything which comes for the price of free!
* House Swap! (example here) This is another fabulous scheme, I myself am not a house owner so I cannot participate in this one right now unfortunately but you can swap your houses with other family homes from all over, sometimes families even throw in their car with it! and all you'll have to do is pay for food!
* It doesn't have to be fancy smancy! If you're going on honeymoon or just a general life snob, then fair enough, you go and pay triple the price for a huge marble hotel room you will spend just as much time in as a couple of students down the road in a hostel! (Whom by the way are probably having more fun!)... Always find your cheapest, most suited option (For example: myself and my boyfriend could not stay in a shared dorm at a hostel as we want our privacy, however my friends and I most definitely would if it meant saving those pennies!) I'm not saying intentionally book a dive because it's the cheapest you can find, but let's be realistic, you will be out most of the day anyway so as long as it is clean, safe and secure it really doesn't matter. It depends on your budget but I feel there are better things to be spending one's money on then fancy hotels, maybe I will change my mind as I get older, but I doubt it. I'd rather be spending that money on excursions and memories.
* If you do want it to be fancy but can't afford it, you could always tell the hotel that it is for a particularly special occasion and If they're nice they'll give you an upgrade like they did for me and my sister last year in Brighton! 
* Stay in a smaller town next door; sometimes it is cheaper to stay a little bit away from the main strip, even if it's only a five minute walk sometimes it can help, so do your research and compare prices for surrounding towns as the hotel prices may be considerably less!
* Take location into consideration, If you are going on a clubbing holiday - make sure you are close to the strip. If all you want to do is lay on the beach, stay near to the beach. Although price may vary, it will most probably save you more money in the long run if you are within walking distance of the main place you wish to be! Staying near a beach could also save you money as hotels without pools tend to be cheaper so you could find a pool-less hotel right on top of the beach and you can swim for nothing!
* I always seem to find the best hotel deals with 'On the beach'. Their site is the easiest I have found to use and they always seem to offer the best deals! (This also applied to their transfers too, they sell reliable, economical transfers and you can even book those alone If you've already booked your accommodation).

CURRENCY
* Either get your money changed before hand or do it when you get there, check out which is the best option for you but by all means NEVER do it in an airport! When I went to Turkey the exchange rate was far better in Turkey than in England so I regretted getting my cash beforehand in Marks and Sparks. However, I am more or less certain the exchange rate with be just as poor to the euro wherever I go so I will probably get my euros before I go anyway. I am not sure which is better for other places but compare exchange rates online and you'll save yourself a lot of wonga! 

HOLIDAY SHOPPING
* Borrow, Borrow, Borrow - Hello the best part about having a sister. I wanted some more baggy trousers for my holiday, so my sister lent me some of hers, I needed some shorts, so my sister has lent me hers! I plan on asking one of my friends to borrow her jumpsuit I love too. Why buy something you are only going to wear for a week anyway when someone close to you already has it? Makes perfect business sense.
* Now we all love to go out and buy new this and new that, but ask yourself; 'do I really need all of these things?' Do I really need a new bikini when I have four already? No. Do I really need ANOTHER maxi dress? No. Is one or two midi skirts enough? Yes. 'You are going on holiday, not becoming a super star girlfriend, come back down to planet earth!' ...is what I tell myself haha.
* Mini cosmetics are cute, but If you have a suitcase - bring the larger sizes so you can bring back with you If you don't use them up. Bringing the full size products also means you are unlikely to run out and have to buy more. If you must bring minis as you are only bringing hand luggage, remember you can ONLY have liquids that are under 100ml in your hand luggage and the total within your cabin bag can only amount to a litre anyway, it will do you well to remember this as having items confiscated at security before you get away will not only mean wasting money on something you'll never get to use but will also mean you will need to waste more money buying it again on the other side. 
* If you wish to buy high end cosmetics to use on holiday, why not wait and buy them Tax Free in DUTY FREE! Woo! It's the only time I buy MAC products! Ha!

EATING & DRINKING
When you're actually on your holiday, you are going to need to eat, and If you haven't gone all inclusive, there are many ways you can do this in a more economical way.
* Take the Basics. I always bring tea on holiday with me at the very least as any UK based brands are usually more expensive abroad due to exportation costs.
* Pop to the local supermarket, market or greengrocers and get yourself some munch. Last year myself and my boyfriend went and bought eggs, tomatoes and avocados in Valencia and had them for breakfast every morning spent there, it was so simple, so cheap yet so delicious! Even If you just buy your breakfasts it'll be worth it as I have found that breakfast abroad is usually over priced and overly disgusting! 
* Cook for yourself - If you can, I know If you go Bed and Breakfast you may not get a cooker and so forth but, if you are self catering, why not make yourself a nice meal indoors, you don't have to do it every day of course but it can actually be quite fun anyway. A few years ago myself and a friend went self catering in turkey and cooked for ourselves a few of the nights, it was nice to just chill on the balcony and enjoy our new 'home' fully. 
* Plan your meals: I don't mean write a strict itinerary or when, where and what time you must eat, but suss out where you are going to go and stick to it. Myself and my friends spent ages walking around deciding in June and we ended up eating some of the worst meals I have ever had because of it.
* Go to where the locals go - this isn't just because of price. This is also because of taste. I have found with most places, authentic, fresh, cuisine is the tastiest, and hey - If the locals are eating it, it must be good right?!
* Don't just go the places 'on the main strip', these places tend to be far more expensive, in Barcelona, we found a tiny little cafe round the corner from La Sagrada Familia which was much cheaper and nicer than those closer to that point of interest. 
* Eat more at lunch than dinner. This applies to anywhere to be honest, even here at home. Lunch deals and menu's are always cheaper and thus you will always get a better deal at lunch. 
* Drink water and soft drinks. In Turkey, myself and my friends ordered cocktail after cocktail, then I switched to mocktails and by the end, I was ordering water because, not only did the cocktails give me chronic acid reflux, they also gave my bank balance chronic depression. I really don't feel that drinking all day does much for anyone, you don't end up drunk, you don't end up feeling fresh and sober, you just end up feeling bloated and tired. Pointless and an utter waste of money. I have learned my lesson good and proper with that one!
* Bring food on your days out with you. While some may snub their noses at the idea of bringing a 'packed lunch' as such on a holiday outing. I actually believe it is more enjoyable and memorable to enjoy some nice home made grub in a nice spot with perfect company. I can't think of anything nicer then a lovely picnic on a beach or a beautiful spot with someone you love.

DOING THINGS
* Walk around: If you are not too far from all the attractions why not take yourself via your lovely little pies? (that means feet in Spanish). Walking is a fabulous way to get around and also a free way, which in itself is fabulous! In Egypt I wasted quite a bit on cabs here there and everywhere when really and truly, I could have walked and seen more of the surrounding area.
* Arrange your own excursions: Most tourist destinations have lots of individual companies selling the same excursions for different profit margins. The best thing to do is 'go straight to the horses mouth' so to speak and book it with the actual place of interest or activity provider.
* Appreciate the little things: Holidays don't have to be all about flashing the cash and blowing the budget. You can appreciate your surroundings, the culture, the people, what the sand and sea does to your skin, the random quirks of a country, new snacks, a new language... Just take it all in and enjoy! 

A FEW EXTRAS
* Be aware of extra charges on your phone, and I don't just mean data roaming charges either. I came home to a £90.00 bill after Turkey because, I had accidentally called someone once, which lasted 3 seconds and I had called someone for one conversation and hadn't realised they were charging £1.50 a minute. It was ridiculous and I found it even more ridiculous that the company (cough o2) failed to mention it in my 'welcome to turkey' text as they usually do when I go to France or Spain. The fact I was charged for a canceled call just leaves a bitter taste in my mouth too to be honest.
* Make sure you get travel insurance, I usually go with Argos because, their excess charges are reasonable, they cover everything you need from baggage to healthcare, I trust them and they are affordable too!
* Get a health insurance card: It's always better to be safe than sorry and being that I am an EU citizen, it's free anyway! (within the EU of course!)

Well I hope this post has helped someone, somewhat, somewhere... Budgeting on holiday is nothing to be ashamed of in my opinion, who wants to come home to a broke life for the sake of a break? Not me...


❤❤❤



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