Let’s be honest, holiday planning has got us all in a tizz this year. The whole on-off saga around foreign travel has led to millions of Brits ditching their plans for a holiday abroad in 2021.
And for those who have decided to run the gauntlet and book a trip overseas, there are weeks of fretting over quarantines and vaccines and COVID tests before you find out if you will actually make it or not.
Yet for many people, the obvious alternative – booking a UK staycation – is not much better for the stress levels. One of the big issues is cost. With demand for domestic holiday bookings going through the roof this summer, so have prices, with holiday hotspots like Cornwall now more expensive than some of the most popular destinations in Europe.
So if you’re on a budget, what do you do? Give up on the idea of a holiday for yet another year? After all, we’ve been through, that’s a thought too depressing for words.
If there’s one golden rule to carry with you for life in general, but especially when it comes to travel, it’s don’t let money get in the way. Where there is a will, there’s a way, as they say – if you need that summer break, don’t let scare stories about soaring prices put you off. You will find a trip for your budget, and what is more, it will be fantastic.
Here are some great tips for saving money on a UK staycation this summer.
One of the best ways to save money on a UK holiday is to swap a roof over your head for canvas. Prices for hotels and holiday lets might be going up as places fill, but you’ll always be able to find a pitch for a tent at a fraction of the cost. There are campsites literally all over the place, and some of the best ones have facilities to match any Mediterranean resort – swimming pool, on-site club, even a beach within walking distance if you head to the coast.
Even if you don’t have any camping gear, ask around or lookout for offers on sites like Freecycle. You’re bound to know someone who has a tent they can lend you and it is well worth the effort to beg, borrow or buy some cooking gear as well. Making your own meals will save you a fortune compared to eating out in pubs and restaurants, and there’s a real sense of adventure about cooking and eating outdoors which little ones especially will love.
Stay with friends
Carrying on with the beg and borrow theme, another great way to save money on holiday accommodation is not to pay for it at all. Most people have friends or family scattered all over the UK – why not get in touch with some of them and see if you can visit? There’s a high likelihood you haven’t seen a lot of them since before the pandemic, so a reunion is well overdue. And you can even offer to do a swap and host them in return for letting you stay, so everyone’s a winner.
Look out for offers and vouchers
While there is no doubt that certain parts of the tourist industry are cashing in on sky-high demand this summer, let’s not forget that many of these businesses have had a dreadful 18 months and are lucky to still be operating at all. That also means a lot of businesses are bending over backward to attract custom, including offering some fantastic deals.
Particularly for day trips to leisure and entertainment venues, and for food and drink, there will be some amazing bargains to be had if you know where to look. Sites like NetVoucherCodes and Groupon are a good place to start – you may even pick up some eye-catching late deals on accommodation and package holidays.
Book last minute
The conventional wisdom for planning a holiday is to book early to get the best deals. But if you are looking at organising a staycation holiday in the UK this year, you have already missed the early-bird discounts by a long way.
The alternative is to do the exact opposite – leave it as late as you possibly can until you book. In fact, depending on how flexible you can be, if you’re on a strict budget it’s worth considering basing your plans around the best late deals you can find. It might mean setting off at the drop of a hat, but you can grab some real bargains that way.
The reason is that if a hotel, holiday let, or resort doesn’t get full occupancy on any given dates, they will start to drop the prices, usually in the week or so before. For them, it is better to fill bookings at a discounted price than get nothing at all.
You might struggle to get a full seven nights in the same place on a late deal like this – quite often, you’ll find accommodation with two or three spare nights here and there. So you might have to settle for a shorter trip or be prepared to move around and book more places to stay on the hoof.
Protect yourself with travel insurance
Finally, paying for something like travel insurance for a domestic holiday might seem like a counterintuitive way to save money. Have you ever bought travel insurance for a trip to the UK before? Isn’t that just for overseas?
Perhaps pre-pandemic you could get away with thinking like that. But not anymore. If you’re on a budget, the last thing you want is to make holiday plans, pay for accommodation, train tickets, early bird vouchers for attractions, or whatever, and then have to cancel because you or someone in your party tests positive for COVID-19. That would be all the money you’ve spent upfront, gone.
UK travel insurance is the only sure-fire way to protect yourself financially from COVID-related cancellations. Even if you book a place to stay right at the last minute, as long as you buy insurance straight away, you will be covered.