Skint Dad

Save money by planning your summer holiday now

Dreaming of blue skies and sandy beaches but don't want to break the bank? Read Skint Dad's tips to help you find the family holiday of your dreams without breaking the bank.

I don’t know about you but it’s this time of the year that my thoughts turn to summer and going away with the family. Although there are still a good few months before the summer, it’s really important to start planning now, especially if you’re on a budget - whether you are having a staycation or are travelling abroad.

Set a realistic budget

Whether you fancy a long haul holiday, or staying in the UK is more to your taste; setting a realistic budget before you settle on a destination will stop you from being tempted to book a holiday that you either won’t be able to afford, or will force you to borrow money to pay it off.

As well as working out how much you can afford to spend on your holiday, you should also take into consideration spending money, holiday insurance and any other holiday essentials which will be on top of the holiday cost.

Do your research

I look at booking a holiday the same way I look at buying a secondhand car; with the right research you will undoubtedly be able to get a better deal.

I start with the destination, especially a foreign holiday; instead of opting for a popular resort look slightly further out as you can really snap up some good deals both on destination and hotel.

Once you’ve got your destination sorted the next thing you need to do is research dates. If you can be flexible here even by a day or two it can pay great dividends.

Self catering or all inclusive?

Going all inclusive will mean that you will have budgeted for everything before you even leave the airport. And, if you’re happy to keep to the resort instead of heading out, then an all inclusive holiday will definitely work out as the cheaper option.

Self catering on the other hand will give you a number of different options. For starters the holiday itself will be substantially cheaper because you’re not paying for food and drink. You will also be able to save money by heading to a local supermarket and cooking in your holiday home.

On word of caution though: if you like a drink or two while you’re away, self catering will undoubtedly cost you more as the drinks will need to be paid for on resort unlike all inclusive.

Overall it comes down to what you want to get out of your holiday. If a holiday for you is about not washing up and eating whatever you want then, not only will it be more practical but, you could also find that an all inclusive break will work out cheaper overall.

What are you going to do?

When we’re away, especially if it’s somewhere new, we normally like to get out and explore. To reduce costs it’s wise to do a bit of research before hand and see what’s in the local area.

If you’re remaining in the UK, check with the local tourist office for special offers on tickets. It would also be worth checking to see if you can use Tesco Clubcard or Sainsbury’s Nectar points towards the cost.

If the places are spread out over a large area plan your days so travelling and fuel costs will be kept to a minimum. You can be even thriftier by checking the cheapest place to buy petrol in the area.

Are you taking a phone?

Depending on the country you are travelling to, and the phone provider you use, the amount you’ll be charged to use your mobile will vary. You would hope that the hotel where you’ll be staying will offer free WiFi but definitely check this beforehand. I know from a previous trip that hotels in the USA can charge up to $20 per day to access WiFi. That quickly adds up to a substantial amount.

As you’re on holiday you are probably looking forward to putting your phone away and having a week off. If you’re not intending to use the phone while you’re aboard, make sure you keep it turned off as you’ll get charged to receive text messages and voicemails which are out of your control.

Spending money

If you are not staying in the UK, don’t be stung by the exchange rate. Rule one is an easy one: do not exchange your money at the airport on the day – you are almost guaranteed to pay a higher rate!

Before heading off, check to see where is offering the best travel exchange rates – travel agents, banks, the post office and some supermarkets all offer a currency exchange service and at different rates.

Secondly, be cautious about using your normal bank card abroad – in some instances it can be very expensive. Instead, get a prepaid travel card that you load with money before you go – you put a choice of currency onto the MasterCard (or even get one with dual currency) and you get the going rate at that time.

Bon voyage!