Sticking to your budget

Whatever you’re planning on doing for your holiday this year – whether it’s sunbathing in the South of France or kayaking off the coast of Mexico – worrying about your holiday budget is the last thing you want to be thinking about instead of enjoying your trip. A budget can hang over us like a raincloud, especially during those precious times away when you’re more likely to overspend, but with a little extra planning, research and preparation, it doesn’t have to be such a burden.

Plan well in advance
The key to optimal holiday spending is planning and budgeting well in advance. When planning your trip, balance your calculated expenses based on your destination, transport, accommodation, living costs (food, drink) and what you’re going to do when you get there (fun activities and entry costs). When you’re planning, make sure that you don’t choose a destination that means you have to stretch your budget in all areas.

By saving up your pennies well before you’re due to leave, you’re more likely to have more money for ‘fun’ by the time it comes for you to go without having to cut into money dedicated for anything else. If you leave things until later, you might have to skimp and miss out on things you didn’t want to. You can increase this ‘fun’ portion of your budget and have more money for exciting activities by cutting other areas of your budget. For example, look around for deals on accommodation, transport or other amenities, as this can sometimes give you extra money to play around with.

Create mini-budgets
After the bigger budgeted investments of transportation and accommodation, it’s sometimes easier to set a daily budgets for expected food, drink, activities and souvenir shopping costs. Use only that amount of cash each day and take your credit card with you in case of emergency expenditure such as taking a taxi to the hospital. Make sure you keep an eye on how much is left in the envelope as the day goes on to allow you to budget further, and have a spare 10% as a monetary cushion for emergencies or unexpected circumstances.

Don’t be over-generous
Whilst it can be tempting to bring home several things for your mum or friend because of the great deals abroad, it’s actually better for your budget if you make a list of people you want to buy gifts for along with a rough estimate of how much you want to spend on each person. If you hit a market or find a nice shop where you can find a few gifts for people, try and negotiate a discount for buying so many items. Shop with your budget in mind, don’t just pick up the cheap gifts that people wouldn’t really appreciate.

When buying souvenirs and gifts for yourself, it’s easy to pick up cheap and tacky things which we regret buying later. Make sure that when buying things for yourself or your home, you’ll actually display it and make use of it, rather than packing it away in a drawer. Think about what you can get whilst you’re out there, for example, if you can get a silk scarf relatively cheaply at your destination of choice and it costs three times as much at home, buy it when you’re on holiday. Photos are an inexpensive souvenir too, you can always buy photo frames when you’re back so take lots of photos and store some memories on your wall or on your shelves.

Eat like a local
Restaurants, cafes and street vendors in touristy areas are usually priced well above their value in order to make the most from their temporary visitors in such an exclusive location. For example, having a coffee right on Times Square would cost a significant amount more than one a couple of streets away because it’s specifically created with the purpose of being a tourist trap. If you can’t afford to spend extra amounts of money on what is essentially just a hot drink, snack, or lunch, ask the concierge, your travel operator or check online for cheaper alternatives. You can also save a lot on breakfast, lunch and snacks by shopping at local markets – which also allow you to experience the local culture at the same time.

Hotel and Flight Booking Advice


  • Usually the later you book the more expensive the ticket. However, if you are flexible on where and when you travel, you may find a late booking bargain through a package holiday or Charter-flight company.
  • The best time to book is roughly 8 weeks before flying. Guardian (UK)
  • The best time of year to make your booking is either end of August/beginning of September or end of December/beginning of January. Time (US). This may not apply for flights within the Southern hemisphere where there may be different buying patterns and flying seasons.
  • Mid-week flights tend to have the cheapest airfares.
  • Airline tickets on less popular early morning/late night flights will often cost you less.
  • Airport choice – you may find that it pays to choose a flight from/to a neighbouring airport.


Staying in a hotel can be a great way to feel looked after on your holiday. By having a break from your usual everyday routine, the moment you arrive at the hotel and things such as cooking, cleaning and tidying up is done for you, you automatically feel pampered.

Booking a hotel in advance
Booking a hotel way in advance has the obvious benefit of more options when it comes to available hotel rooms. It also offers peace of mind that you will have a room ready for you once you arrive at your destination, without having to see if one is available.

1.Be flexible with your arrival and departure dates. When you’re booking a hotel in advance, it is best to be as flexible as you can with your dates of arrival and departure, as hotel rates can vary greatly on different dates and days of the week.

2.Shop around for different rates. It is also very important to shop around when searching for hotel accommodations well in advance, as prices can also vary quite a bit on different sites, and of course from different hotels, as well.

Booking a hotel last minute
Booking a hotel at the last minute can definitely save you a lot of money, as hotels are keen to fill up their empty rooms. However, the fact that these left over rooms are the only ones left to fill means that your selection of available rooms will be a bit more limited, as some hotels may not have occupancy available at the time. If you’re not very picky on where you end up staying and are simply looking for an affordable rate, you may want to wait until the last minute to find a hotel to book for your stay.

1.Look for deals online. You can find huge discounts for booking a hotel the night of by searching on different hotel booking and comparison websites.

2.Search for a hotel upon your arrival. Another option for booking a hotel at the last minute is to search the area for hotels upon your arrival and check in with a few to see what their best rates are for checking in that night. However, this could be more hassle than you’re prepared for.
3.Try to negotiate. If you’ve waited until the last minute and aren’t shy to ask for a bargain, you may find that haggling with the hotel may get you an even better rate.

Choosing a Destination

The first thing to decide before booking your holiday will be choosing your destination. For many, finding inspiration is the most difficult thing to do in the holiday process. With a huge variety of places to visit, and more places being advertised, every destination tends to look more appealing than the last.

First of all, decide what you want:

Are you more the type of person who wants a holiday to relax in the sun, or someone who wants every other day to hold a different adventure in store? Someone who prefers soaking up the local culture or spending your time out focusing on you, your health and wellness? Decide what you want from your holiday from the list below, which will hopefully allow you to focus more on a destination able to provide you with what you want:

  • Adventure
  • Beaches & Sun
  • Casinos
  • Family Fun
  • Health & Wellness
  • History & Culture
  • Romance
  • Shopping
  • Wildlife
  • Winter Sports

Websites such as TripAdvisor have generators which allow you to narrow down destinations through types of holiday, month of travel, region alongside their user-rated experiences. If you’re feeling particularly spontaneous, whichplacetogo generates a random destination – a virtual way of spinning a globe and putting a pin down. ABTA offer a great way of showing where is great to go, when, incase you know when you want to go, but have no idea about where would be best to make memories at that time of year.

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