Cheap holidays without breaking the bank 2019By Money Mage · · Travel, Frugality
You need a break. Fruggles running around everywhere looking tired and stressed. Commuting to hell-work. Sitting at their hell-desks. Counting down the days till the weekend. Counting the sleeps until holidays. Counting the sleeps until Santa.
We’ve all been there. We all need a break. Kick back, enjoy and relax. On a pristine beach somewhere. With umbrellas and a Piña colada. A piña colada with umbrellas. Sun beating down, think of nothing other than enjoying life.
You need a break. You deserve it.
I’m being serious. It might sound strange to spend money coming from a Money Mage, but you need a break.
Experiences are everything. Experiences refresh, enlighten and excite. Go somewhere you haven’t been before. It’s worth it for the mind and soul.
I am lucky I’ve travelled. Singapore, Tokyo, New York, Austin, Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Helsinki, Stockholm, Paris, Amsterdam to name a few. Some for work, some for pleasure.
Every trip has been an amazing experience I treasure.
The trick is to create amazing experiences without creating more money worry. Don’t go on a holiday you can’t afford. Don’t go on a holiday that racks up debts. Take a break for what it’s meant to be. A break. An experience.
Why do we spend so much on holidays?
The average family in the UK now spends £4,800 per year on holidays according to Expedia. With each holiday costing on average £2,417.
Let’s put this into perspective. An average UK holiday is 9 days. Average families have two holidays a year. £277 extra per day. All inclusive holiday bonanzas that break the bank.
A change in the law in the UK has meant it is harder for parents to take children out of school during term time. The racketeering during the 6 week holiday season is unstoppable.
It’s becoming too expensive for some families to keep up the appearance.
You need a break. You deserve it. I’m still being serious.
It’s important to kick back and take some you time.
How many holidays per year?
Average UK families take two holidays a year. Most have more time off from work than two, so there are other breaks Money Mages would class as a holiday.
I take four family holidays a year, roughly once every 3 months. They are all different.
The first holiday in the year is a staycation. It’s usually off-season, and it’s usually a self-catering rental. Often near the sea.
This year will be March. It’ll be cold in Scotland in March so the last few we’ve found old fisherman’s cottages with log burning fires. We go somewhere new each year to see somewhere else.
Stay at home
The second holiday in the year is usually the stay at home holiday. The Money Mage stay at home holiday might sound boring. Sound like frugal misery you say? Stay at home holidays can be some of the best ‘kick back’ breaks ever. Spending time with family, people you love doing what you love.
It’s a chance to explore. There are often tons of new places, events, venues, cafes, bars right on your doorstep. Most of us build habits around to the same few places around where we live. Venture out in the local area and try somewhere and something new.
Stay at home holidays are also great for simple pleasures. Long walks with the dog on quiet beaches. Long nights binging Films or TV with the other half. Cooking great meals. Seeing friends.
The third holiday of the year is a new habit we’re building. It’s to see the world, but without breaking the bank.
The somewhere new holiday is what it sounds like. Somewhere we have never been to before. These aren’t all inclusive hell-fest cruises, or all inclusive, or golf. We try to go to a place we’ve never been to before.
To explore and to experience.
The last holiday of the year is always Christmas. Christmas is special. The other half works every other Christmas, so when the Money Mage household gets a Christmas it’s great.
We will have a stay at home Christmas one year, and the next we’ll have a visit relatives Christmas. We keep it rhythmic so everyone knows if we’re coming or going.
Christmas this year has been amazing. 11 days of pure, self-indulgence. Shut off from the hell-world, enjoying life, and enjoying time with the people you love. Christmas is such a great wind down, and it’s important to do it right.
Money Mages also learn to shut down on at least one holiday a year. A complete shutdown. Not a fundamentalist electronic detox, but a simple shut down.
Turn off phones, or uninstall hell-work email accounts.
Turn off Facebook.
Laptops don’t get to come.
We tell friends and colleagues we’re away and not to get in touch.
One major purpose of a holiday is to relax. If you’re reading work emails on holiday you are far from relaxed.
Holidays don’t have to be expensive.
Four holidays a year. All four come to less than one average UK family holiday.
You need to pick what you want to do, where you go, and stick to how much you want to spend.
Holiday Money Saving Tips
This all sounds like frugal misery Money Mage. Three out of your four holidays you don’t go anywhere!
Not true. Two out of four holidays we go somewhere. We don’t break the bank in doing so.
Don’t travel during school holidays
The Money Mage household is fortunate enough to not have bairns tearing up the place. We get to holiday off-season. We always book our holidays to avoid brat-weeks.
I know many of you fruggles can’t do this as your bairns have school.
You can still holiday off-season though. Take your stay-at-home holiday during peak season. Take your overseas holiday off-season at a half-term.
It’d be good to get away from the rain in October and November anyway!
Only take hand luggage
Airline racketeering is growing when it comes to luggage. Almost all airlines now are charging extra for hold luggage. They’re also cracking down
Travel lighter. Do you need to take so much?
Buy a cheaper ticket and only take a carry-on. One of you takes an empty or half-empty carry-on if you plan on bringing back loot.
So many people are doing this. Watch out for cabin crew taking your bag at boarding and demanding it go in the hold. Make sure you have a robust enough carry-on case.
Think of the other benefits. You don’t have to stand with the fruggles at the luggage belts.
Money Mages enjoy cooking. If you don’t enjoy cooking and want someone to feed you on holiday, look away. Some of the best holidays are cooking over a hot stove, in a warm, cosy cottage with the log fire glaring away.
You can save a small fortune with DIY self-catering holidays. Make sure you do your research first. Where are you going to buy food? Make sure you buy like locals, not like tourists!
Take cheap flights
Package holidays are not always the cheapest flight. You can often find cheaper flights. Flights with layovers, or flights that go to an out-of-city airport.
Edinburgh to New York is now cheap with a direct flight by low-cost-carrier Norwegian. Norwegian flies from Edinburgh to New York Stewart International in New York State. It’s about an hour and a half on the bus into Manhattan. It can be over an hour and a half into Manhattan in a taxi from Newark or JFK anyway, so this isn’t a big issue.
These low-cost carriers operating to out of the way airports can save a fortune. It’s the whole Ryanair model.
Book in advance
Booking flights and accommodation in advance especially can save a fortune. Booking now compared to a few weeks in advance could save hundreds of pounds on the cost of a trip.
Beware of booking in advance and then having the price dropped on you. Hotels and airlines sometimes cut prices at the last minute to fill unused seats and rooms. If this happens, you might be able to cancel and rebook to save more.
Layovers and indirect flights can save huge amounts on direct flights. You can use this to your advantage. Why not use a layover to experience somewhere new?
Layovers are often a pain - many hours sat around an airport doing nothing.
Why not extend the layover and make it a new experience? Does the same cheap flight exist if you extend the layover by one day? Is the saving so much you can afford a night in a cheap hotel?
Can you introduce an overnight stay at your layover and enjoy a night in another new place?
If you are parking at the airport, pay for airport parking in advance. There are now many parking options at most airports. You can save big on book-ahead long stay parking.
Or find other ways to get to the airport. Is it cheaper to get the train or a taxi? Don’t assume driving and airport parking is the cheapest.
Can friends or family drop you off? Treat them for the trouble.
Take the train
In the UK you can get cheap train tickets well in advance of travel. You can get cheaper tickets on split-tickets.
It’s often much cheaper than the cost of flying. It’s also less stressful, and only a couple of hours longer for long distance trains.
I never understand. People go for a city break and then spend all day on the tube or metro.
It’s even funnier when you see tourist fruggles crammed into a commuter-time tube. Sweaty arm-pit aroma adding to their experience.
Don’t be a fruggle on the tube.
You’ll miss most of the place you’re visiting. Walk instead.
It takes a little longer to walk. If you are thinking of hopping on the tube or metro for a couple of stops, stop and think. Google Maps is so good now it’ll give you comparison times of the tube compared to walking. If it’s only a couple of minutes more to walk, why not walk? You will see more, and you’ll be fitter and happier.
Avoid tourist traps
City Break? Stay out of the city and avoid the main busy areas. In New York, the Times Square area is a cesspit. The area around the Eiffel Tower is full of ‘shiny-shiny’ street vendors who won’t leave you alone.
Tourist areas are often must-sees but don’t get trapped there. Avoid eating and buying. Walk and see. But don’t stay.
Often recently gentrified areas are cool places to stay, eat and explore. Live like a local. Find local places to eat and shop. Places locals go to are often the best places!
Save money with Staycations
Staycations in the UK don’t have to be miserly.
The UK has some amazing places to explore. Money Mage will provide a Staycation 2019 list later in the year. Believe in the power of the staycation. An awesome break. No airports. No travel hassle. No exchange rates. Beautiful coasts, beaches, countryside and cities.
If you go on holiday more than once per year, make one of your holidays a staycation. Save or invest the difference if you do.
Self-catering holiday lets
The most cost-effective staycations are those where you look after yourself. Find a cheap holiday let or Airbnb in the location you want to stay.
Do a weekly shop on route. As it’s a holiday splash out a little with some treats.
Make it special - cook some amazing meals. Make cooking part of the holiday. Cooking is a social activity, so try to pick a holiday let with a great kitchen dining space. Enjoy it.
Make sure to treat yourself - a bottle of bubbly. Do something you wouldn’t normally do. It’s a break after all. It’s you time.
We holiday offseason, and it’s often cold. Especially in Scotland. We make something of this. We find a cosy place to stay. Picture it: a log burner, an open fire, blankets, cuddling up watching films.
Staycations are all about kicking back and relaxing. So make sure you focus on something positive that’s going to relax you.
Take books and DVDs. Good old board games. If you’re going to somewhere with internet, bring something you can stream Netflix or Spotify. Sit back and enjoy doing less.
Try to avoid the habitual entertainment you do every day. Facebook scrolling or reading the usual garbage. Take a break, that’s the point.
Out and About
Half of the fun of staying somewhere new is experiencing the place. Find out what there is to do in the local area. What events are there? What tourist locations are there? Where’s the closest town with something else interesting to do?
Get out and about and see what there is.
Even better, see what is out and about that’s free or cheap. Is there an amazing quiet beach nearby? Is there somewhere you can sit and listen to the sea for an hour? Is there a long walk you can go on? Are there free or cheap museums or galleries nearby?
The Money Mage household is a pet household. The dog is part of the family. So the pet comes on our staycation. We make sure to find a pet-friendly self-catering holiday let.
We make sure there are plenty of local walks - and make use of them. Walking around places you’ve never been to before is awesome.
Check what amenities are in the area you are staying. We tend to stay in quite cut off places, very small coastal villages. This is great for shutting down but can lead to little being on the doorstep.
See what’s in the area. How far is it to the nearest corner shop? How far is it to the nearest petrol station? Where’s the nearest bar or restaurant? Does the closest takeout deliver? Plan ahead, and treat yourself a little, you are on holiday.
If you stay in hustle and bustle this won’t be an issue. Get out and enjoy the place.
Save money on holidays in 2019
Don’t be a fruggle. Rethink your 2019 holidays now! Try more frequent, smaller, cheaper holidays in 2019. How much were you planning on spending? Try and reduce your budget by half, and save and invest the difference.
Where are you going on holiday in 2019? And how much are you paying?
Sources and Attribution
- Beach scene at Current, Eleuthera (c) Trish Hartmann, CC-BY
- Edinburgh Airport United N34131 (c) Jonathan Winton, CC-BY
- Bow Fiddle Rock, Moray Coast (c) John Loach, CC-BY