I don’t claim to be a money-saving expert (especially when it comes to being on the trip where I have the mindset of ‘I’m on holiday, I deserve it, money can be remade’ 24/7). However, when it comes to saving money on travel I am quite savvy – so much so that, when I was younger, I was appointed as the trip finder of the family after finding a flight to Spain for £0.
Here are some of my top tips for saving money on travel:
Change Your Starting Airport
Your local airport may be too small to be able to host the best deals, but the airport in the next city over may be a big hub that can. Just be careful that the cost of getting to a different airport does not outweigh the savings you make on the flight. My local airport is EMA which is often quite expensive to fly from, however, it costs around £11 return with National Express to get to Birmingham which often has much cheaper deals, making the trip worth it.
Also, some airports have higher taxes and passenger duty fees which mean flights in and out of them are more expensive. Here is a list of all the airports with the highest fees in Europe.
Be Flexible With Your Dates
A good, yet simple, way of saving money on travel is to be flexible with your dates (so find the cheapest dates and book your annual leave afterwards, not the other way around). Obviously being flexible with dates can be difficult for some, especially those of us working around full-time jobs, but the more flexible you can be the more money you are likely to save.
Skyscanner’s ‘search by month’ feature is great for doing this. It lets you put in a start and end destination and search by month, where it tells you which days are cheapest, which days are mid-range, and which days are most expensive.
Be Flexible With Your Destination
By searching for ‘Everywhere’ on Skyscanner, Kayak etc you can see which is the cheapest destination for the dates, or rough time period, in which you want to travel. If you can be flexible on your dates too, you can make some pretty hefty savings – especially if you’re only looking for short-haul flights. By doing this recently I got a flight to Krakow for £10 (but I know people who have got flights even cheaper).
Use All Of Your Free Time To Search
Okay, maybe don’t be this extreme but, when you know you’re ready to book a trip, spend a few days searching for cheap deals etc whenever you can. When airlines put a new flight on sale they often put seats at dirt cheap prices for a very limited time. When you catch them at this time you can end up with absolute bargains (this is how I booked a flight for three of us to Spain for £0 a few years ago. We just had to pay taxes so, all-in-all, it ended up being about £25 for the three of us. Return). Also, when there are only a few seats left the prices can drop because they want to sell them (I don’t think this is true for airlines in the USA who frequently over-sell but it’s definitely true of the budget, European ones).
*Top Tip*: the cheapest deals can often be found on Tuesdays or Wednesdays. I believe this is because these are the days people are least likely to be booking trips.
Oh, and no, deleting cookies does not usually save you money. Occasionally you may see lower fares by searching on incognito mode, especially if you have been searching for the same destination a lot over a short period of time, but it is not a proven way to save money.
Yes, budget airlines have lowered their hand-luggage limit once again but, while they still allow some free hand-luggage, you don’t need to check a bag. Invest in a bag big enough for their maximum dimensions, get some packing cubes to squash everything down, be ruthless/realistic when deciding what to take, commit to wearing a few layers at the airport (especially for winter trips) and you will be fine.
*Top Tip*: Most airlines let you take on a duty free carrier bag alongside your hand-luggage so you can pack whatever doesn’t fit into a carrier bag and nobody will check it. This is how I take a towel and an extra jacket with me!
Pledge Your Loyalty To An Airline
I believe that in places like the USA you can get airline miles with certain credit cards, but this unfortunately isn’t a thing in the UK. However, some airlines do have their own versions of credit cards in which you can earn points that can be put towards flights or upgrades. Although I have never tried this for myself, British Airways and Virgin Atlantic have good credit cards and would be good for people who travel outside of Europe frequently (just be careful to pay it off and don’t get yourself into debt). If you want to read more on this ‘the points guy‘ has a good article explaining the ins and outs of the best UK-specific cards.
For short-haul and budget airlines you can take advantage of their loyalty schemes. For example, Ryanair has ‘Ryanair Rooms’ where, if you book accommodation through them then you can earn points to put towards flights in the future. Easyjet has ‘Easyjet Plus’ where you pay an annual membership of £215 and get a long list of benefits, such as priority boarding and fast-track through security, which would save a lot of money if you are a frequent flier with them. It’s also worth noting that downloading an airline’s app could get you access to cheaper app-only deals. Wizzair are good for doing this.
Sign Up to Money Saving Newsletters
Make sure you put them into a separate ‘saving money on travel’ folder in your inbox so they are all in one, easy to reach place. Jack’s Flight Club is an obvious one to sign up to but, once the deals are sent out you have to be quick. Another good idea is to sign up to newsletters for your favourite airlines and travel companies as they regularly send out deals and, as a subscriber, you are usually one of the first to know about them. Good company newsletters are: Busabout, gap360, intrepid, and Wizzair (for short haul flights).
With hotels you are essentially paying for the luxury of things like a room-cleaning service, nice bedding, en-suites and room service, as well as things like bars and restaurants on site. The thing is, many hostels can offer this at a fraction of the price. Hotels know they can charge over the odds because a lot of people are afraid to try things like hostels and even Airbnb so stick to what they know. However, it can be cheaper to try something different. Airbnb’s are fabulous, if you find the right one (and, the majority of the time, the hosts are genuine and the accommodation is lovely. Horror stories are just that most of the time – stories). They also offer a lot more privacy and freedom.
You may also like: Hostel review: Well’come To Algarve, Faro
Reusable bottles and home-cooked meals
In most places across Europe tap water is perfectly safe to drink. This means you can take a refillable bottle and use that for your trip instead of buying plastic bottles several times a day. Not only is this great for the environment but it’s great for your wallet as even just 70cent here and there can add up! Also, don’t eat every meal in a restaurant or café. It’s nice to treat yourself when you’re on holiday but spending the majority of your money on food isn’t feasible when travelling on a budget. When we went to Budapest we cooked a couple of lunches and dinners for ourselves and I really noticed a difference as our daily spend plummeted when we did.
Stop Buying Gifts For Other People
I’m joking, sort of. If you want to keep buying cheap gifts for loved ones every time you go away then continue to do so. I don’t do this and, not only has it saved me a lot of money which can be put towards more food or alcohol, it has saved me a lot of stress. And, to be brutally honest, most people do not appreciate receiving tat from a country that they have not been to #sorrynotsorry.
So there you have it, my top tips for saving money on travel. Do you have any tips to add to the list? Let me know in the comments!
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