Travel on a budget

Our tips + hacks for adventures when money is tight

Prepare for take off 

How to Book a Cheap Holiday?

We all know how it all starts – you find your dream destination or you finally have some time off work booked, where to go?! Before you know, you’re at a travel agents, setting up a direct debit to pay off your holiday amount to £3,000 – £4,000…

We’ve been there. However, we refused to pay because guess what?

There is a CHEAPER way to do this. You don’t have to work 6 months for a holiday that lasts 7 nights. That’s excluding your spending money…

We know the pain. Before our first adventure, we eagerly skipped away to the nearest travel agent. We received quotes on 2-3 package holidays that made us gasp. Not with excitement.

It really blew our minds how expensive a holiday was going to cost us… This was a city break for 3-4 nights.

We thought there must be another way to do this, a cheaper way… We saw people purchasing cheap getaways, flying off to the most famous destinations and packing their holidays full of activities.

So, we’ve done a little bit of digging, and through trial and error, this is how we structure our research and narrow our choices down, when booking holidays! Call it a best practice guide or tips and hacks for a cheap holiday – whatever you like. Here’s how you do it…

We all know how it all starts – you find your dream destination or you finally have some time off work booked, where to go?! Before you know, you’re at an estate agents, setting up a direct debit to pay off your holiday amount to £3,000 – £4,000… 

We’ve been there. However, we refused to pay because guess what? 

There is a CHEAPER way to do this. You don’t have to work 6 months for a holiday that lasts 7 nights. That’s excluding your spending money…

We know the pain. Before our first adventure, we eagerly skipped away to the nearest travel agent. We received quotes on 2-3 package holidays that made us gasp. Not with excitement.

It really blew our minds how expensive a holiday was going to cost us… This was a city break for 3-4 nights.

We thought there must be another way to do this, a cheaper way… We saw people purchasing cheap getaways, flying off to the most famous destinations and packing their holidays full of activities.

So, we’ve done a little bit of digging, and through trial and error, this is how we structure our research and narrow our choices down, when booking holidays! Call it a best practice guide or tips and hacks for a cheap holiday – whatever you like. Here’s how you do it…

Setting a target price!

Have a look at where you’d like to go, it’s worth looking through various sites like Icelolly.com , travelrepublic.com or lastminute.com to get an idea of the various possible destinations. Once you have a destination in mind, you are ready to start the hunt for a bargain holiday!

See what the agents are charging (you never know, they could give you a better offer if it’s a last minute holiday or depending on the economy at the time), make a note of airports they’re flying from as well, you may find better deals departing from a different airport when you get home.

The trip to the estate agents is just for comparison of prices, chances are, you’ll find a better deal online. 

When looking at flight costs, don’t forget that although some flight tickets might be cheap, these will usually EXCLUDE the price of your luggage and seat selection. That’s how they catch you, they might seem cheap at first but when you start booking the flight, additional costs soon add up and that flight doesn’t seem so cheap anymore…

Some airlines (and most budget airlines) now charge for hand luggage too, so make sure to check their policies and their charges for luggage before setting your target budget + price. 

Airlines mostly charge you for picking your seats on top of the price that they quote. So, add roughly £80 for each luggage you take for both ways and roughly £10 for picking seats on the plane, per person, both ways. Below is a breakdown of some of the most popular budget airlines and their additional charges:

Airline

Cabin bag

Baggage charge

Seat charge

Easyjet

Free of charge
Max 56 x 45 x 25cm

1 per person

15 kg bag = £15.49/per flight

25 kg bag = £18.99/per flight

£5.99 – £16.99/pp depending on where you sit on the airplane

Jet 2

Free of charge

Max 56 x 45 x 25cm per person

22 kg bag = £27/per flight

Standard seating from £10

Extra leg room from £22

Ryanair

Free of charge

Max 40 x 20 x 25cm per person

10 kg £10 = £17.50/per flight

20 kg £25 = £35/per flight

£3 – £28 depending on where you sit on the plane

Wizzair

Free of charge

Max 40 x 30 x 20cm per person

High Season prices.

10 kg bag = £25.50/per flight

20 kg bag = £35/per flight

32 kg bag = £56/per flight

£0.90 – £45 depending on seats and destination

Prices are up to date as of June 2020

Prepare for take-off!

Look on Skyscanner for the best flight deals. We find that the best option is to check prices and dates of the departures using the Whole Month search filter (as demonstrated below). This way you can physically see what days are cheaper to fly out on. This can drastically help you save some money on your adventure, if your dates are flexible – looking at the below table, you can clearly see how flights vary depending on which day you’re flying out on:

How to book a cheap holiday skyscanner

Once you have selected a rough time and dates to fly out on, it’s time to flick to the next stage!

Accommodation Time!

Booking your place to stay, whether it’s a hotel, hostel, B&B, apartment or a holiday home can be stressful.

We got you covered on this… Our trick and secret is *drumroll*:

 

When booking hotels, we tend to use booking.com and we always use the map view to look around the area and the filters on the side to help locate suitable hotels, b&b’s or apartments within our price range. The map view allows you to get a clear idea where exactly the accommodation is and how far it is from areas you are interested in.

Of course, we cannot forget TripAdvisor, our go-to source when it comes to researching city areas overseas based on other tourists who have visited and stayed in the areas recommending the most suitable spots. Everyone’s idea of a suitable spot will vary of course, depending on whether you like the quiet areas or whether you’re in desperate need of a good glass of wine each night in a quirky bar not far from your hotel.

There are of course various factors to consider when booking, such as:

Location

In Athens, we stayed where the star is located on the map below. The accommodation nearer the main roads to the north were considered to be the slightly ‘rougher areas’ and less tourist-friendly. Those options were cheaper however because we knew we’d also be exploring the city by night, we decided to spend a little more to be closer to the centre but still outside the tourist trap.

Distance to main attractions

This is vital! You could find a great bargain in any city however if you have a long commute to the attractions, it can seriously put a dent in your available time exploring!

Night life, atmosphere, food, ambience

If you are a party goer and love those late nights with cocktails and shots, it’s best to stay somewhere near to lively areas. More importantly somewhere with a good reputation of being safe – the last thing you’ll want is relying on taxis to take you half across a city to your hotel each night whilst drunk. With the livelier areas you’re more likely to find great places to taste the local cuisine too!

Transport links

Normally cities have good transport links, for instance in Rome we stayed in the Esquilino district – we were about a forty-minute walk from the old town (which would be quite a walk). However there was a metro across the road from our accommodation so it would only take us 10-15 minutes to  get to the livelier and central parts of the city. Plus, we saved extra money because our hotel wasn’t located near the hustle and bustle of the city guaranteeing a silent night of rest!

travel on a budget booking.com tips

Research, research, RESEARCH! 

A big plus to booking a holiday on your own is that all the research you do into your chosen area, can help you have a great experience when you touchdown. You’ll know which areas to avoid, where to buy your food and what events go on in the week/month.

Using Athens as an example again, we stayed in the student area which was still a central area of Athens. Of course where you find uni students, you’re more likely to find quirky bars, restaurants and a lively nightlife. Which is what we wanted at the time of booking – we love our niche and funky bars. That decision of basing ourselves a few hundred yards further away from the main city centre, saved us roughly £100 for the 7 nights.

However, please take care when picking a hotel, of course cheap hotel deals may be tempting but always research the area where it’s located, to be comfortable and safe.

Reviews are another awesome way of judging which areas might be best suited for you, based on the people that have stayed in the hotels and left reviews on Booking.com.

USEFUL TIP: most of the time, hotels by train stations will be cheap and will seem like they’re in a good location because they’re close to main transport links and city centre (as we learnt when planning our trip to Naples…). But most of the time, hotels near train stations can be pretty rough and involve trouble, pick-pocketers and noisy nights. This isn’t the case for ALL cities of course, but bear it in mind and do your research beforehand!

Last Bit of Prep!

Now that you have the location, flights, and hotels eyed up, it is time to look at how you can piece these together in the most cost-effective way.

How are you going to get from your home to the airport?

By car and pay for parking?

Sometimes traveling by coach or public transport to the airport may be a cheaper alternative to driving and paying parking charges. We normally travel by coach and as soon as the front door is locked, our holiday begins…

Once you land and those plane doors open, you will also need to consider – how are you going to get to your hotel?

The options will vary depending on the destination and exchange rates. Big cities usually offer a bus or train and you can jump on for as cheap as €1/2. However, in some countries it may be better or more cost efficient to get private transfer if the shuttle buses do not go within the vicinity of your hotel.

Private transfer can be a more costly option, especially in large cities such as Rome or Barcelona, but in cities such as Prague and Budapest it’s worth having a look as they are considerably cheaper than the western European countries.

Taxis are not normally a good idea, the drivers may try to charge you more if you are a tourist, but it shouldn’t come to this if you are well prepared for options on how to get to your hotel. If you are thinking of getting a taxi or aren’t a fan of public transport, Uber or an equivalent is your best bet as they cannot charge you more than what you’re owed via your app so you know you’ll get a fair price for your distance travelled.

And lastly, if you have any useful tips or would like to know more – please share! We’d love to hear your travel stories and how you save the cash when booking your holidays. Drop us a comment below smile and as always, if you think anyone would benefit from reading this post, share the love… ❤️

Peace + love, Ben + Aggie