I’ll admit, this post isn’t because I think I’m good at actually budgeting. Maybe I should have called it something like ‘How to afford regular city breaks’. But that sounds a bit douchey, so maybe not.
The reason behind this post is the fact that when I announce my next impending trip, my friends/colleagues/family usually reply with an eye roll and then a ‘Really? Another?’ or they give me a comment about being a part timer at work. Either way, if I want to keep jetting off, I’ve had to get sensible when it comes to these trips, especially booking them. Here are a few money saving tips that I’ve found:
We all know this, but it’s soooo much cheaper to go away during term time. I’m lucky that me and the boy both work office jobs which mean that we can take time off whenever we want really. By being flexible with your dates, you can get really get some great deals. For instance, flying from Porto to Stansted on a Wednesday evening (the 25th January to be precise) cost us just £9 each. I spent more than that on a round in the pub last night.
Following on from my point above, and it’s kind of related, is the beauty that is Skyscanner. When planning a trip it’s always my first place to go. It has two features which really help with the planning. Firstly, the ability to search flights across a whole month. This means that if you’re not restricted by certain dates, you can find the cheapest days to fly. Secondly, you can search ‘Everywhere’ as a destination. This will then show you all of the flights that are available on your desired dates or month and list the cheapest first. Perfect for if you’re keen to explore as much as possible or if you want a cheap jaunt abroad. But…just find the costs, don’t book yet…see my point below!
Look around first. If Skyscanner tells you that the cheapest flights to Prague are with EasyJet on a certain date, then go to the EasyJet site and look on there. I found flights for about £4 cheaper the other day on the actual site. It’s not much, but it will go some towards that extra glass of wine so it’s worth doing.
Explore your options
Don’t automatically think that a return flight is the cheapest option. Some places have more than one airport – just think, London has 5! Although how close Southend airport is to London does make that questionable! Try different combos to see what’s cheapest. For instance, when I fly to my parents place in Spain, I often find that it’s cheaper to fly into Murcia but to come home from Alicante and often to a different airport from where I took off from. Doesn’t work all of the time but it’s good to explore your options.
Getting the best value accommodation
Up until recently, the boy and I always booked at least 4 star hotels to stay in. That’s not us being snobby, but holidays were only a couple of times per year so we wanted to stay in nicer places. Now, we cast the net a bit wider to try and find the best value accommodation. That said, we do have some criteria. It must have good reviews, it must have a private bathroom, it must be clean and in a good, central location. When you’re citybreaking, time is too precious to spend on public transport to get from your hotel into town to explore. Expedia and Booking.Com are great for hotels.Booking.Com allows you to book now and pay/cancel later. You do pay a bit more to do this but it means you can keep an eye out for the best value rooms. Trivago is okay but remember that the prices they display are per night – not for your entire stay…definitely been caught out by that a few times!
Getting the right accommodation
Think about what you need. If you’re on a citybreak then you require a lot less from your hotel than if you’re planning on spending the days by a pool. One hotel we stayed at in Oslo billed themselves as being cheaper as they only cleaned the rooms if you were there for more than 3 nights. This was fine for us, you don’t have someone cleaning your room daily at home (or at least we don’t!). Something else we’ve considered is getting a room with a kitchenette, being able to sort your own breakfasts and lunches will definitely make for a cheaper trip.
Do you have any other tips? I hope that you find these helpful, they’ve made travelling for me much more affordable and realistic!