How to Plan a Holiday Overseas on a Budget

Everyone needs to take a break once in a while, and going on a holiday abroad is a brilliant way to get away from stressful work or just the grind of a routine. Holidays can get expensive though, so this guide is designed to help you take a break without breaking the bank.

Plan Ahead and Compare

This may sound obvious, but a large part of getting a holiday cheap is making sure you get to it ahead of time. Doing this makes it easier for you to find the right deal by comparing all the possible providers at every level of the holiday, from flights to hotels to activities.

Using comparison sites is the way to go when it comes to finding the deal you’re looking for. Starting with hotels, putting your dream hotel into sites like Trivago or TripAdvisor can save you a chunk of your budget. On top of this, contacting the hotel directly to see if they can beat the price is never a bad idea, and could get you an even bigger saving.

When it comes to flights, make sure you are using sites which give you the biggest range of comparisons. For example, if you’re looking for a flight to a popular package holiday destination make sure you’re using a site that includes charter flights on their lists, meaning you can see if there are spare seats on a package provider’s flight.

Another way to secure a cheaper flight is to fly indirectly. While waiting around for two hours in an airport halfway between your base and your destination might not sound appealing, it could significantly cut the cost of your flight.

Consider Package Holidays

While doing all of your bookings independently can save you a lot of money in some cases, it can also be a lot of work for the sake of very small savings. Depending on when and where you’re travelling, it’s a good idea to at least check the price of equivalent package holidays.

Package holidays can be especially useful when it comes to an activity-heavy holiday, as they will often cut down the overall cost of activities, even if a single activity would have been cheaper outside of the package.

Cut Out the Extras

Consider whether you actually need Priority Boarding and Seat Selection on your flight. As almost all airlines now offer allocated seating these are usually unnecessary costs which can be easily cut from your budget.

Another extra cost which can be easily cut is the cost of food (either at the airport or on the plane). This usually outrageous expense can be easily removed by taking your own packed lunch. If you do take a packed lunch, however, remember that liquids will not be allowed onto the plane, but you can get around this by taking empty bottles to fill with water in the departure lounge.

Time Your Trip Right

Obviously, a large part of working out the timing of your holiday is dependent on outside factors like fitting around work or your kids’ school terms, but it’s important to maximise deals within the range of times you have available to you.

Often, term-time holidays are much cheaper than those available during the school holidays, but school holidays might be the only time you can travel. If this is the case, booking your trip for the later end of the holiday period is usually the best idea, with the last week of August and the first week of September often much cheaper than the rest of the holidays.

Alternatively, October half-term can also be a good time to get away if your holidays are restricted by the school term, as trips then are usually in line with the rest of term time.

The time of travel on your days of departure and return can also affect the cost of flights or trains. Overnight trips can cost significantly less, so if you find it easy to fall asleep in transit you could use this to reduce cost of travel and to eliminate the cost of one night’s stay at your hotel from your budget.

Be Prepared

For your own protection, it’s always a good idea to get your travel insurance sorted as soon as possible after booking your trip. Otherwise, you could be caught out by any number of problems meaning you have to cancel and be left with no way to get your money back.

It’s also important to be prepared on the day of travel itself, particularly when it comes to weighing your bags. Make sure your bags are within the limits your airline sets on luggage, as the charges for excessive weight can be extreme.

Research Your Activities and Book Beforehand

While booking your excursions independently can seem like a lot of work compared to going with the trips organised by your hotel/campsite, it can mean a major difference in expense.

This is usually due to the fact that local public transport will be cheaper than the coaches used for organised excursions. Unfortunately, local buses rarely come with the guides provided on hotel organised coaches, but you could halve the cost of your sightseeing. You might also make savings from booking this transport far ahead of time.

You can increase the savings in most major cities through travel or sight-seeing passes. These generally get you savings as long as you make more than two or three journeys on local transport each day. In major cities this can quickly build up your savings as you cross the city to get from sight to sight.

Many of the older European cities, on the other hand, are easily walkable if you want to eliminate transport costs altogether. By researching the sights of a particular city you can often work out which ones are in the same geographical area as each other and plan your days around this.