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Jun 06

How to Have a Cheap Holiday in the UK

Reading Time: 6 mins

As lockdown lifts, there’s still much uncertainty about international holidays. So this summer, make the most of the British staycation! It’s a great way to have a cheap holiday without faffing with quarantine rules.

Although in Britain we may not have guaranteed sunshine throughout the summer months like most of our European counterparts, we do have an abundance of historic cities and beautiful landscapes. From weekend breaks staying in cityside B&Bs to getting away from the hustle and bustle and exploring the countryside, there are plenty of ways to keep costs down and have a cheap holiday in the UK.

In particular, as we slowly begin to ease out of lockdown, holidaying at home this summer is a great idea. Overseas travel measures and restrictions will continue to affect anyone travelling abroad, and injecting money back into our economy by spending at home will help us in our slow recovery from coronavirus.

Ditch the Hotel

Go camping for a cheap holiday

The UK offers plenty in the way of free activities, from countryside walks and hikes in the highlands to relaxing weekends spent on beaches. The UK has 15 gorgeous national parks to explore, and over 7,000 miles of coastline to see, which make exploring the country’s landscapes a perfect holiday getaway.

To fully immerse yourself in the countryside, camping is the perfect way to keep things cheap and get a true authentic experience.

Camping

Spending a holiday under canvas is the simplest way to save a chunk of money on holiday, but it can also become part of the adventure and magic of the trip. It’s a perfect getaway whether you’re after a peaceful solo weekend, a group outing, a family adventure, or romantic couples trip. Many campsites also allow dogs, so you can take your pooches with you – which is a great way to save on kennel costs, too!

Pitch prices vary depending on location and time of year, but they can cost as little as £5 a night, per person. If you are camping during a busy season consider choosing a campsite slightly further away from the main tourist sites in the area for even better prices.

Wild Camping

In Scotland, you can legally wild camp. This means you don’t have to camp on a set site, but instead can pitch up in any suitable area. You can’t do this on private land without the owner’s permission – but with so many forests and national parks, you’re not short of places to wild camp. It’s a great way to get into the true Great Outdoors – and saves money on pitch fees, too!

Wild camping isn’t legal in England, Wales, or Northern Ireland. Some areas, such as the Lake District and Dartmoor, have a ‘blind eye’ policy if you follow the basic rules (arrive late, leave early, leave everything as you found it, and stay no more than one night in the same place). Countryfile has a useful list of wild camping places to try across the UK.

If you know another spot you’d like to wild camp, find out who the landowner is and ask their permission to camp there. Don’t just rock up and pitch up: ask in advance, and get to know the landowner so they can see you’re trustworthy and will leave everything as you found it.

Glamping

Glamping is another option. It’s still rather cheap but with a bit more luxury for those not quite at home under wet canvas. With glamping, you have better facilities like a private hot shower and fully functioning kitchen.

PitchUp is a great website dedicated to finding cheap camping and caravan parks, also showing users the nearest walking routes, bike hires, activities, and pubs! Campsites is another easy website to use to search for cheap camping sites for pitches, touring, and glamping. All in all, camping is hard to beat at keeping things cheap.

Alternatives to Camping

Caravaning is a great cheap holiday

Finding alternative accommodation is one of the simplest ways to save on holiday. Hotels are notoriously expensive and really not worth the money when there are plenty of other options available. Even if you want a city-based break, you’ll find lots of options such as nearby caravan parks, in-city guesthouses, and other options that get you away from expensive hotels.

Caravan Parks

Like campsites, static caravan sites offer budget holiday accommodation for couples and families. This option costs a bit more, from around £20 a night depending on the number of people the caravan sleeps and what facilities it offers.

You can hire a caravan pitch for your own, or hire a caravan out for the week or weekend for around £30 a night (depending on size and location).

B&Bs and Guesthouses

Farm stays, B&Bs, and guesthouses are other alternatives on offer. Still cheaper than hotels, you have your own space and facilities and a bit more comfort then in a tent! It’s also a good way to explore new places without risking the questionable British weather. The options are also ideal if you want to explore cities rather than the countryside, too.

Try Air BnB, local Facebook groups, and FarmStay to find alternatives to camping – for both countryside AND city breaks.

House Swap

To save TONS of money, you could always house swap! Normally, this is done internationally – but you can do it in the UK, too. Obviously, this is subject to making sure your home is fully cleaned and safe for any visitors, as we don’t know just how long this pandemic is going to last. However, house swapping is a great way to save lots of cash and see new places. Read our full article about house swapping here.

Save Money on Travel

Avoid any unnecessary travel costs that you can. For example, if you’re driving to your destination fill up your car before setting off as the fuel there will be cheaper than at petrol stations along motorway routes.

If you’ll be travelling for a long period of time, pack a picnic and snacks for the family as station and services cafes and shops tend to have extortionate mark ups on their products and you’ll end up paying a lot more than you should.

Research other travel options that may be cheaper. If you’re travelling without kids or have light baggage, public transport is a good alternative to consider. It may be just as convenient as driving but prove to be a cheaper option. Omio is a useful site for planning a route by public transport and comparing cost versus time. If you are travelling by public transport, booking well in advance, travelling at off-peak times, and investing in a rail or coach card will all make your travel cheaper.

Peak Times Mean Peak Prices

Get a cheap holiday with off peak tickets

Avoiding the school summer holidays and bank holiday weekends as much as you can will save you from buying into the price increases at these times of year. Although if you’re a family with children this is much harder to avoid. Holiday prices often drop by between 10 and 15% from the last week of August and into the beginning of September so timing your holiday right could get you better deals. Also consider taking your family holiday during the Easter holidays instead. Generally the UK gets nice, sunny weather around this time and the prices will be cheaper as well.

Do your research before you travel and check out if there will be any big events going on whilst you hope to be there. Things like football matches, big concerts, or race days will unfortunately whack the prices up on accommodation in the area and you could end up paying a lot more.

Try Something Different

Cities like London, Oxford, and Bath are all very popular tourist destinations but more expensive than some other UK cities. Northern England and Scotland have some amazing places worthy of visiting that are great city breaks but without the large price tag. Liverpool was revealed to be the best value city break in the UK! While other great options include Manchester, Newcastle, Sheffield, and Aberdeen.

Further Tips to Save You Money

If you’re on a super-tight budget but really need to get away this summer (and, let’s face it, we all need a holiday after the last few months!), try these tips to save more cash.

  1. Why not rent out your home whilst you’re on holiday? You can sign up for AirBnB easily to host your home and have some extra money coming in whilst you’re away.
  2. First time camping? Borrow the camping gear from a friend or family if you can before you spend hundreds on stuff you may not use very often. If you have to buy though, make your purchases out of season for much better deals.
  3. Make the most of deals and cashback. Websites like lastminute.com usually have some really good deals available so it’s worth signing up to see what you can get. Another idea is to use cashback sites like Quidco when booking your holiday as you can receive up to 13% back.
  4. Make use of age-related discounts. You’ll need to keep your ID on you but being under 18, a student, or over 60, means you can benefit from discounted entry fees and travel passes.

More Useful Reading

Feeling inspired? Check out these articles for more ways to bag a cheap holiday!

WHAT DO YOU THINK?

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Tom
Tom
4 months ago

Can’t wait to travel again! This article got me excited for the future.

Annie Thorpe
Admin
Annie Thorpe
4 months ago
Reply to  Tom

Hopefully it’ll be soon! For staycations in the UK, at least 🙂

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