With the pound weakening against the euro, just over half of Brits are planning to stay in the UK these summer holidays. But a ‘staycation’ can still cost you a hefty sum – here’s how to keep your costs down when holidaying in the UK.
An annual holiday index from Travelodge found that 55% of Brits are planning to holiday in the UK this year rather than travelling overseas, with Cornwall proving the most popular local destination.
But even without flying to distant shores, taking the family on holiday can be a major expense. Which? explains the best tips for saving cash on your British getaway.
Find out more: 50 ways to save money – find out how to save up for your holiday
1. Take advantage of free sites and events:
Britain boasts sightseeing opportunities which are among the best in the world, according to a Which? survey. Avebury in Wiltshire – which is free to visit – was rated as providing a better visitor experience than the Taj Mahal and the pyramids of Eqypt.
While popular cultural events such as the Edinburgh Fringe have seen their ticket prices increase in recent years, most festivals will offer an array of free pub shows and street performers. Free events are also offered by many local authorities throughout the summer.
2. Look into multi-site passes for city-breaks
Many destinations in Britain offer ‘city passes’, which promise discounted or free entry into a number of major tourist sites. The York Pass, for example, offers 3-days of site-seeing for £58.50, including entry to over 30 attractions. The London Pass, which comes at varying price points, will get you into over 70 sites.
But before you buy, work out what you actually want to see and how much you might realistically spend – otherwise, a bundle ticket may not be worthwhile.
Find out more: Travelling with children – our guide to bringing along the family
3. Secure discounted theatre tickets
If your holiday plans include a night at the theatre, you can save money by taking advantage of discount ticket options. In London’s West End, many shows offer rush tickets – often sold an hour before the show starts – which provide seats at a low cost. Many shows also offer ticket lotteries, which allow you to enter for a chance to win £20 tickets the same night.
However, be cautious around ticket re-sale sites – you may be denied entry if you do not buy your ticket from an official vendor.
Find out more: How can I protect myself from dodgy ticket selling?
4. Book your train ticket in advance
You can save up to 87% on your train fare if you book in advance. The following train companies offer discounted tickets for advance bookings: CrossCounty, Grand Central, Greater Anglia, Northern, Transpennine Express, Virgin Trains East Coast, Virgin West Coast and Caledonian Sleeper.
Which? research from earlier this year found you can get fares for less than £20 on popular routes.
|Examples of Advance ticket savings|
|Journey||Anytime fare||Advance fare||% saving|
|London Kings Cross to Leeds||£119.50||£15.50||87%|
|Manchester Oxford Road to Glasgow||£69.00||£13.00||81%|
|Ipswich to Sheffield||£80.50||£30.60||80%|
|Birmingham New Street to London Euston||£88.00||£22.00||75%|
|Manchester Piccadilly to London Euston||£142.00||£37.00||74%|
Fares gathered on 4 January 2017. Advance fares based on first train after 8am on 29 March 2017.
Find out more: 10 tips for finding cheap train tickets
5. Consider a house swap
As an alternative to hotels, consider swapping your house with another family who live in a destination you’d like to visit. A number of new online platforms have made it easier than ever to organise a house swap. But before you open up your home to a stranger, make sure you have a comprehensive contract and ensure that your home insurance is fully up-to-date.
6. Rent your home out on Airbnb
If you’re going away for a longer time, you could consider renting out your home on Airbnb to earn a bit of extra cash. However, many landlords will not approve of tenants sub-letting their property. If you own your home, but have a mortgage, you may also find that listing on AirBnb may breach your mortgage contract terms and conditions.
If you do decide to use Airbnb or another accommodation platform, make sure you know the local regulations and have comprehensive insurance that covers paying guests.
7. Avoid bank holidays
Prices tend to skyrocket over school holidays – but bank holidays tend to attract even higher premiums. The weekend of 28 August is the last bank holiday in England this summer. If possible, plan your holiday to avoid that date, as you could face higher accommodation and travel costs.
8. Book over a Sunday night
People tend to check out of hotels on Sunday, so you may get a bargain by booking over Sunday night. If you’re considering a weekend break, see if you can incorporate Sunday into your stay – many hotels offer an overall discount for Sunday nights.
9. Stay in university rooms
In many cities, university halls offer cheap accommodation to travellers during the uni breaks. While the rooms might not be the most luxurious, many are well-located in the city centre and you can nab them at fairly low rates – in Bath for example, rooms at Eastwood Halls are offered for as little as £36 per night.
10. Book your UK hire car before you leave
Booking your rental car in advance and online can save you a substantial amount – and there are a number of other ways to cut the cost of your car hire. If you’re planning to book a rental car, have a look at our recent checklist on slashing car hire costs.
Find out more: Car hire tips – how to get the best rental deal
11. Walk or bike around
While getting to your destination can be expensive, many people forget to factor in the cost of getting around while on holiday, including train fares, tours and bus tickets. If possible, plan your accommodation to make it possible to walk to major sites. Alternatively, London offers a cheap cycle sharing scheme, while many destinations offer affordable bike hire.