1. Book your accommodation first
If you’re away for more than a couple of days, your accommodation is likely to be your top cost so why not start there first?
Got a hotel in mind? Use my guide to finding the cheapest night at your chosen accommodation.
I then pop in some dates (and often use their flexibility tools to search a few days either side), use the filters to add in my budget and other preferences, and then I use the map view to see what’s available.
I always start with a really low budget first because then you have less results to sift through and if there’s a real bargain out there it will really jump out.
That’s how I found the place pictured below in Greece – it only cost me £298 for an entire week!
2. Choose self-catering accommodation
It may be a house, an aparthotel or perhaps even a hostel with a shared kitchen – the point is to book yourself a place that gives you access to facilities that will help you save money.
Airbnb can be great but sometimes there’s just too much choice – or not enough quality control!! When this is the case, I turn to these Airbnb alternatives.
If you refuse to give your airline any extra money by buying baggage but are away for a fair few days, then search for a place with a washing machine.
I’ve done this several times and it’s a great way to pack light but still… smell fresh. Haha!
The other big one when it comes to saving money is does it have a full working kitchen?
Very often I’ll buy in breakfast so that’s one less meal a day I need to factor into my costs.
3. Check the prices getting to and from the airport
Yes, the flight may be only £10 but it’s no good if the journey to get to the airport costs you triple that!
This is particularly an issue for me in London where a lot of the cheap flights are from airports that cost a small fortune to get to and sometimes, it’s totally worth paying an extra few quid on a flight from London Heathrow as I can get there using the tube at just £2.20 with my railcard.
This is also worth checking out for your destination too as many major cities can have a main airport and a smaller airport that’s often further away, and therefore can be more pricey to travel from.
My final shout is to check whether you can get the train to your destination instead. They often terminate right in the middle of the city which is always better than where an airport is located!
4. Need a bag? Choose an airline that offers them for free
If you’re going to need a small suitcase as carry on, or a checked bag, it can often work out cheaper to book with a more expensive airline who offers these as standard.
This happened to me just recently where Wizzair had a return flight to Athens for just £75. However, once I’d added on a carry-on suitcase and a check in bag, it came up to £130 and therefore it was cheaper for me to book with another airline – Sky Express.
My tip here is to check national carriers rather than budget airlines as they often are the ones still offering free baggage options.
Also, if it’s just a carry-on suitcase you’re after, Google Flights actually lets you filter results with this option on.
Finally, if you’re travelling with lots of check in luggage, it may even be worth looking at the cost for Business Class. This is certainly the case for flying to Europe with British Airways who offer 2 x 23kg bags for free for all their business travellers.
BA hold sales a few times a year where Club Europe flights can be as cheap as £83! It’s not a lie flat seat but you do get loads of baggage, a meal on board and free access to their BA lounge!
5. Check the price of your car hire
Gonna need a car whilst away? Then please check the car hire costs before booking your flights and accommodation!
Recently, I got very excited by a £3.50 flight to Lanzarote but when I checked the car hire costs, it was going to cost me £750 for a week.
NO THANK YOU.
The general rule is that you can get cheap car hire for destinations with less demand. So when everyone is off to the beach, you’d probably be better flying into a landlocked city and then driving to the coast yourself.
For example, on the same dates that Lanzarote was throwing up £750 prices, I found 7 days car hire from Seville Airport for just £90.
6. Opt for a destination with cheap food and drink
So often I obsess about the prices of booking a holiday but then it all starts to unravel when I get on holiday, get too excited and start hitting the €10 cocktails.
But along with your accommodation, food and drink prices are those daily costs that are really going to stack up if you’re not a little savvy.
My favourite cheap countries
My favourite cheap cities
7. Book somewhere that has cheap activities
If your plan is to spend your time eating and drinking, then stick with the above! But if you’re wanting a culture trawl or to get into nature, don’t forget to check out the prices before you book.
When it comes to outdoor activities and nature, why not see what the cheaper countries have on offer? For example, check out Zakopane in southern Poland – it’s so beautiful and incredibly affordable, especially if you want to ski!
My final shout out may surprise you but Iceland, whilst being synonymous with high prices, delivers incredible value when you recognise that its most stunning attribute – its nature – is free.
It’s always about what you want out of your trip and prioritising what’s most important to you.
Got a cheap holiday tip you want to share?
Come join in the discussion on Instagram!