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How to save money on your next vacation
Home Swapping Tips

How to save money on your next vacation

Ellena Morgan
By Ellena Morgan - 13 minute read

As many of us are cur­rent­ly feel­ing the pinch with the cost of liv­ing being so high, plen­ty of trav­el-lovers are in a posi­tion where they think they can’t afford a get­away. Between book­ing accom­mo­da­tion, flight costs, eat­ing out and activ­i­ties, a vaca­tion can very quick­ly become a big finan­cial bur­den. But even dur­ing these times, there are ways to cut your costs for a great hol­i­day. We’ve put togeth­er the ulti­mate list of ways to take a hol­i­day on a bud­get, so you can enjoy some down-time with­out break­ing the bank.

How to save on your travel costs

Don’t trav­el at pop­u­lar times

If you’re child-free or you can be flex­i­ble on dates, then try to trav­el out­side of the school hol­i­days. And as tempt­ing as it is to make the most of those long bank hol­i­day week­ends, trav­el­ling around pub­lic hol­i­days will also hike up the price of both air trav­el and accommodation. 

If you real­ly must trav­el at the most pop­u­lar times of the year, anoth­er option is to select dates that are just out­side of the peak sea­son, as this is often when it’s most expen­sive to trav­el. Instead, you can still vis­it your cho­sen des­ti­na­tion by book­ing in the shoul­der sea­sons (the peri­od at the begin­ning and end of high sea­son) — so you can still vis­it your dream des­ti­na­tion, with­out hav­ing to pay eye water­ing prices!

Save money on your vacation - travel off peak

Low­er your costs (and ditch the crowds) by trav­el­ling off-peak

Take hand lug­gage only

In recent years, many air­lines have upped the cost of lug­gage in the hold and have added extra costs to bring­ing larg­er hand lug­gage on the flight. Giv­en recent issues with air­lines los­ing or mis­plac­ing bags, pack­ing light is often the best response! Not only will it save you a ton of mon­ey in bag­gage costs, it also means that you’ll save time, as you won’t need to drop off your bags, or wait around at the reclaim carousel. Trav­el­ling for a longer peri­od? If you’re opt­ing to home swap, you’ll often have wash­ing facil­i­ties in the place you’re stay­ing, so there’s no need to pack lots of out­fits as you can keep on top of your wash­ing while you’re there.

Read more: How to pack for hand lug­gage only

Opt for dri­ving, bus­es or trains over flights

Book­ing a flight is the default mode of trans­port for many vaca­tions. On paper, it’s often the quick­est way of get­ting to your des­ti­na­tion, but with recent can­cel­la­tions and delays, trav­el-lovers are being frus­trat­ed by lengthy waits at the air­port. So apply a lit­tle imag­i­na­tion when work­ing out how you’re going to get from A to B! If you’re trav­el­ling domes­ti­cal­ly, or if you’re flight is short-haul, there may be oth­er, cheap­er ways of vis­it­ing your des­ti­na­tion. Look into trains as a start­ing point, and make enquiries about whether pur­chas­ing a rail­card will reduce the over­all cost of your jour­ney. Alter­na­tive­ly, inves­ti­gate whether you can get a coach or bus, or even a minibus transfer.

Save money on vacation buses trains over flights

Look into bus and trains before book­ing a flight

Book your tick­ets early

Flights and tick­ets often increase in price clos­er to the time of depar­ture. You can some­times find great deals on extreme­ly last-minute tick­ets (often with only a cou­ple of seats on the flight avail­able as oth­er­wise sold out) but this is risky. It’s best to try and aim for around 6+ months in advance to find the best price possible.

Look out for sales

Anoth­er great option for sav­ing mon­ey on your trip is to look out for any sales and dis­counts on trans­port. Just like any oth­er retail­er, many air­lines and trans­port providers such as Eurostar run sales. To make sure you’re in-the-know on when these are com­ing up, make sure you fol­low them on social media and join their mail­ing lists to keep an eye on any offers that they’re run­ning now, or are intend­ing to run in the future.

How to save on accommodation

Choose a home swap

It wouldn’t be us if we didn’t rec­om­mend home swap­ping as the no.1 way to save mon­ey when trav­el­ling! If you have a space to offer oth­ers, it’s an incred­i­bly cost-effec­tive way to trav­el. In fact, our mem­bers save an aver­age of £2,000 on a 7‑night stay (that’s $2,500 or €2,300 for our world­wide mem­bers), which is a 90% sav­ing on their usu­al trav­el costs. A Love Home Swap mem­ber­ships costs less than one night in a hotel in a major city, and this gives you access to thou­sands of homes in over 100 coun­tries – plus you can trav­el as often as you like dur­ing the course of your mem­ber­ship. And unlike hous­esit­ting, home swap­ping means that you’re safe in the knowl­edge that a like­mind­ed (and equal­ly house­proud) trav­el-lover is in your home too, mean­ing it’s a tru­ly safe way to travel.

Save money on vacation home swap

This home could be yours for your next hol­i­day with Love Home Swap

Use dis­count sites for hotels

Hotels are often con­sid­ered an out-of-reach lux­u­ry for bud­get-trav­ellers, how­ev­er there are lots of ways to save mon­ey on this more expen­sive hol­i­day accom­mo­da­tion option. Many pri­vate groups offer dis­count­ed hotels and resort deals, includ­ing our very own mem­ber­ship perk Love Home Swap Extras – which grants our Plat­inum mem­bers access to hun­dreds of hotels and resorts with up to 90% off the usu­al retail price… yep, that’s a glo­ri­ous 90% off! Which is per­fect for those last-minute trips, or if you’re after a bit of lux­u­ry (with­out the hefty price tag) — or even to link togeth­er a cou­ple of home swaps!

Save money on vacation by using discount hotels

This vil­la in Bali is just one of the amaz­ing hotels that you can enjoy with Love Home Swap Extras

Swap hotels for hostels

Long gone are the days of slum­ming it in hos­tels, as this way of trav­el has had some­thing of a reju­ve­na­tion. Many hos­tels now offer pri­vate rooms and more luxe pack­ages for a frac­tion of the price of a hotel room. As a bonus, they’re often very cen­tral, unlike many larg­er hotels which can be on the out­skirts of the city, which is ide­al for those who want to be in the heart of the action. Just make sure you do your research first, as not all hos­tels uphold these stan­dards – but pick wise­ly, and you could trav­el for con­sid­er­ably less.

Be flex­i­ble on where you trav­el to

If you’re open to where you go on hol­i­day, many book­ing sites allow you to fil­ter by the low­est price, allow­ing you to find some true bar­gains and keep your hol­i­day in bud­get. Which inci­den­tal­ly brings us back to home swap­ping! Many of our mem­bers have enjoyed incred­i­ble vaca­tions in coun­tries or regions they hadn’t antic­i­pat­ed vis­it­ing, after receiv­ing swap requests from mem­bers who have homes in less­er-vis­it­ed des­ti­na­tions. It’s a great way to see the world (for just the small cost of a mem­ber­ship) so if you’re will­ing to be open to where you’re vaca­tion­ing, you could trav­el even more!

Stay in local neighbourhoods

Accom­mo­da­tion in the cen­tre of cities can be cost­ly due to high demand. Although Love Home Swap has plen­ty of homes in the most cen­tral loca­tions, there’s often even more options in sub­ur­ban areas that are with­in trav­el­ling dis­tance of the main sights. So whether you’re choos­ing to home swap, or stay in a hotel or hol­i­day rental, con­sid­er look­ing a lit­tle beyond the reg­u­lar tourist des­ti­na­tions – not only will you save a huge amount of mon­ey on accom­mo­da­tion costs, you’ll also like­ly be in a neigh­bour­hood where the locals live, mean­ing you’re dodg­ing many of the tourist traps and pricey restau­rants and cafes.

Save money on vacation stay in local neighbourhoods

Local neigh­bour­hoods help you avoid expen­sive tourist traps

Go self-cater­ing

Wher­ev­er you stay, whether it’s a hotel or pri­vate accom­mo­da­tion, self-cater­ing is a great way to save mon­ey on your hol­i­day. Not only will you save mon­ey on eat­ing out con­stant­ly, but it also means you’ll be eat­ing meals that you know you’ll love, instead of set­tling for what a full-board hotel has on offer (which is often lack­ing). Make the most of the local food mar­kets to real­ly tap into the local lifestyle!

How to save money when you’re on holiday

Avoid card fees abroad

Due to the impact of the pan­dem­ic, many sell­ers have added the option to pay by card, with many going com­plete­ly cash­less. This is great news for those want­i­ng to bud­get and see all your costs in one place (less receipts to keep track of!) but pay­ing by deb­it card abroad may come with high fees. To avoid any addi­tion­al fees or inter­est charges, opt for a pre-paid trav­el card like Mon­zo, Rev­o­lut or Star­ling. Adam, our Data Ana­lyst, is a huge fan of this mon­ey-sav­ing tip. He says: It also helps avoid the haz­ard of los­ing out twice if ever you have to trans­fer mon­ey back to pounds – par­tic­u­lar­ly if it’s a very spe­cif­ic cur­ren­cy, and you don’t plan to go back there any­time soon!”

Pay in local currency

When pay­ing by card, you may be asked whether you want to pay in your cur­ren­cy (for exam­ple, if you’re from the UK this would be ster­ling) or in local cur­ren­cy. Heads up peo­ple, because it’s always best to go with the lat­ter. This avoids expen­sive con­ver­sion fees and gets you the best exchange rate – which means more hol­i­day spend­ing money!

Save money on vacation pay in local currency

Always remem­ber when prompt­ed to choose pay in local currency’

Try rideshar­ing

As a proud mem­ber of the shar­ing econ­o­my our­selves, there’s a whole host of ser­vices on offer to help you share resources and save mon­ey. Many coun­tries have car-shar­ing ser­vices like Uber which are often cheap­er than meter ser­vices, as well as moped shar­ing like Grab. Locat­ed in South East Asia, it’s par­tic­u­lar­ly use­ful for solo trav­ellers. There are also a num­ber of car-pool­ing apps and rideshare apps avail­able. But just be care­ful to check that the dri­ver is licenced and is car­ry­ing ID.

Pre­book your activities 

If you want to keep your hol­i­day bud­get-friend­ly, a great way to save mon­ey is by pre-book­ing your activ­i­ties online, as they’re often more expen­sive on the day. Suzie our Brand and Con­tent Edi­tor advis­es. We always pre-book ski pass­es and equip­ment, as it usu­al­ly saves about 20% on the final cost.” You can go via the offi­cial web­site, but you can also use Tri­pAd­vi­sor for advice from oth­er trav­ellers, as well as using dis­count sites that often offer bet­ter rates and pack­age deals.

Bring enter­tain­ment with you

Pack­ing a book, a pack of cards, a sketch­pad or your head­phones is a good idea to pass the time when you’re tak­ing long jour­neys. This is a great tip for adults, but is also essen­tial when trav­el­ling with kids. Mum of two Suzie says: Put a pack of cards (like Uno or Dob­ble) into your bag so that you’ve got enter­tain­ment for any down-time, as buy­ing impromp­tu mag­a­zines, colour­ing etc is pricey.”

See if you’re applic­a­ble for discounts

Many major tourist sites, gal­leries, muse­ums and oth­er attrac­tions offer con­ces­sion prices for cer­tain groups. This can be cer­tain age brack­ets (under 5, chil­dren, teen, under 25, pen­sion­er) or it can be per­son­al cir­cum­stance (stu­dent, NHS work­er) but can also have bun­dle deals for cou­ples and fam­i­lies. Always check the web­site of where you’re trav­el­ling to before­hand to see if you and any­one you are trav­el­ling with are applicable.

Save money on vacation - look for discounted rates

Look for dis­counts when book­ing tick­ets for gal­leries and museums

Find free things to do

Often a lot of sights in the des­ti­na­tion you’re vis­it­ing can be done for free. You can join a paid-for walk­ing group to take in the sights, but there will inevitably be a wealth of great free resources online for you to choose from too. You can some­times find free-of-charge organ­ised walk­ing tours, or if you fan­cy going solo, search for free walk­ing routes’ and guide your­selves! Print it off before you leave home. Kids love being in charge of their own map and sight­see­ing,” Suzie suggests.

Drink tap water (if it’s safe)

Make sure to check before you jet off, but many coun­tries tap water is safe and clean to drink. So save your mon­ey by bring­ing a refill­able water bot­tle on your trip, and ask for tap water when eat­ing out. Not only will you save mon­ey, you’ll also help the envi­ron­ment, too. 

Read more: How home swap­ping pro­motes sus­tain­able tourism

Pack snacks

Sight­see­ing is a tir­ing! And a day on your feet walk­ing miles each day works up a hunger. Keep grum­bles at bay by pack­ing your favourite snacks from your local super­mar­ket to avoid need­ing to stop in expen­sive cafes and restau­rants mul­ti­ple times a day. From first-hand expe­ri­ence of trav­el­ling with her part­ner and two chil­dren, Suzie says: You can guar­an­tee your chil­dren will start grum­bling they’re hun­gry the minute you start sight­see­ing. And stop­ping at a café every hour gets real­ly expen­sive, real­ly quickly.”

Save money on vacation pack snacks

Pack snacks for days out to avoid expen­sive cafes and shops

Don’t eat out for lunch

Eat­ing out is a love­ly treat when on hol­i­day, but it can quick­ly add up to become one of your biggest expens­es when trav­el­ling. To save mon­ey on your hol­i­day, instead of eat­ing out at a restau­rant for lunch, opt to make a pic­nic from the super­mar­ket, or bet­ter yet, plan lunchtime around a park and a bak­ery, which will save you from the costs of eat­ing out all the time. This is ide­al as you don’t have to take the time to make a packed lunch, but you will still save a heap of mon­ey — all while enjoy­ing a treat in a nice setting!

We hope you found this guide on sav­ing mon­ey on your next vaca­tion use­ful. Have you got any more cost-sav­ing tips? We want to hear them! Get in touch via our Feed­back tab, or reach out on our social media chan­nels for the chance to have your tips featured.