Most of us are looking for ways to get the best value for money when travelling, but without sacrificing on quality and enjoyment. There's not much point in just going for a cheap trip but having a dire experience.
The trick is to have a great short break, or holiday, at the lowest possible price.
Staying in the UK
Personally I think this is a good option. Far too many UK residents don't give holidaying at home a proper airing, with mutterings about unreliable weather and expense being the usual "reasons". You can find some great deals at UK hotels, if you keep a look out for special offers and promotions and stay outside peak periods.
You can save quite a bit of money on overseas flights and car hire if you staycation in the UK. You could either take your own car, or find a cheap train ticket. We usually take our car when we go on holiday in the UK. It's so convenient to be able to take plenty of luggage with you, as opposed to trying to cram everything into one carry-on bag to avoid luggage fees when flying.
Travel Outside the Euro Zone
With the current exchange rate of around 1.17 Euro (Sep 2011) to the UK pound, many European destinations which use the Euro have become rather expensive. I found Croatia (which will adopt the Euro in 2013), to be good value compared to Italy for a similar quality of accommodation and meals in restaurants.
Avoid Booking & Payment Fees
Getting a Visa Electron card allows you pay for flights with several airlines including easyJet, Jet2 and bmibaby. With Ryanair you need to pay with a Mastercard prepaid debit card to avoid payment fees. Most travel sites allow you to pay by debit card without any fees. However, be aware that paying by credit card gives you extra protection.
Take a Half Board Holiday
We find that booking half board at our hotel is usually much cheaper than eating out. It does however mean that you don't get to try a different restaurant every night. Most hotels have buffet breakfasts until around 10am, so if you eat a big breakfast and can expect a decent dinner, you only need a light snack at lunch time.
Use a Price Comparison Site
There's too much variation on the price of hotels, holidays, car hire, flights and travel insurance. One of the easiest ways to fairly effortlessly find the lowest prices is to use price comparison sites. But do always also check the price on the supplier's website, as sometimes they offer the lowest price. Sometimes you can also find additional money off vouchers on supplier sites, e.g. I recently found a £30 off bookings over £300 offer when looking for a hotel in Tallinn, Estonia.
I usually read a few reviews before I book a hotel. TripAdvisor is the most popular review site, but there's no check that reviewers have actually stayed at that hotel. I prefer sites that display verified reviews, where you know that the guest has actually stayed there. Several things that some reviewers perceive as negatives don't bother us, e.g. most of the other guests being non-British. Reading several reviews on a few different sites reduces the chance of you ending up somewhere awful. I hope that I've given you a few ideas on how you can get more from your holiday pound, while still enjoying your trip.
By Karen Bryan
Karen Bryan is founder of the popular travel site www.europealacarte.co.uk, and has recently launched a new website, www.helpmetosave.com/ which is packed with tips and suggestions of how to make your pound (euro or dollar!) go further.