We've argued whether the internet is good at saving you money, but...
Holidays on the cheap – practical ideas for thrifty getaways
If you’re anything like me the second you don’t need a scarf, hat and thermals to leave the house your mind will start thinking about summer holidays.
Getting a break is something that we all need from time to time but if you’re skint it can be tricky to afford a holiday.
Living on a tight budget will mean there’s not a lot of money spare for holidays and trips away. But with a bit of ingenuity you can enjoy a break without spending shed-loads of cash.
Visit friends and family
As time goes by I find more and more of my friends and family are scattered around the country. Take a trip to go and visit the people you don’t see very often and impose yourself on their hospitality.
With careful planning and understanding friends and family you could plot a trip around the country. International travel is all well and good, but I bet there are plenty of interesting places in this country that you’ve not been to yet.
Costs: Your travel costs are the only thing you need to pay extra for here. But if you’re off work you’ll be saving the money you would spend on your commute, so it may balance itself out.
Top tip: Don’t forget to invite people to come stay at your home after your visit, so you can return the favour.
If the weather’s nice there are few more pleasurable experiences than camping out under the stars. It’s a chance to escape our hectic lives and enjoy a simpler way of living for a few days.
If you’ve got the cash you’ll find that campsites are cheap and provide the luxury of flushing toilets and hot showers! If you’re more of a rough and ready type, save cash by going wild camping. Make sure that you read up on the rules of wild camping before you pitch up though. You don’t want to be awoken by an angry farmer with a shotgun!
Cost: If you’ve got the gear or can borrow it from someone, the only costs will be the traveling to a nice place to camp out. If money’s really tight you can always camp out in your back garden.
Top tip: Don’t spend loads of cash on a big pre-camping food shopping trip. Dig around the back of your cupboards and make the best of the food you’ve already got.
The cost of hotels and B&Bs add up. House swapping means you let someone stay in your house while you go and stay in theirs. It’s like the TV programme Wife Swap but you’ve got to take your partner and kids too!
You can organise this kind of thing with someone you know or arrange it using an online swapping service. The Telegraph have a handy article which runs through the best of the online house swapping sites.
House swapping can be a great way to save some money and to get a change of scenery but it’s not for everyone. If you’re uneasy about having someone else living in your house while you’re staying in theirs it’s probably not for you.
Cost: Most of the online swapping services will have some sort of fee to pay but it’s much less than the saving you’ll make. If you can arrange a swap with someone you already know you can avoid this fee.
Top tip: Make sure you check your home insurance before organising a swap. Some policies won’t cover you for accidental damage and this might lead to more costs than conventional holiday.
Staying at home is the ultimate cheap holiday. Most of the time we’re all too busy to fully enjoy the area we live in. Go along to your local museum or gallery for a cultural day out, find a nearby community farm to get back to nature or take a picnic to the park.
The most important thing is to get in the leisurely state of mind and treat it like a proper holiday. Don’t stay inside watching daytime TV, get yourself out and about.
Top tip: Search the “Things to do” section of TripAdvisor for ideas on activities in your area.
There are plenty of other things you can do to give yourself a break on the cheap. Here are a few:
Trips to the seaside – Take a packed lunch and enjoy the waves lapping at your feet
Volunteer at a music festival – If you don’t mind a bit of work you can get into festivals for free
Enter competitions to win a holiday – MoneySavingExpert.com have a board on their forum to help you find competitions to win free holidays
Find free events – free-events.co.uk won’t win any awards for web design but it’s (very) simple layout makes it easy to scan their list of free activities
Do you have any suggestions for cheap ways to give yourself a holiday? Pop them in the comments below.