Planning a holiday is a tricky balancing act, money-wise. How do you avoid over-spending and still manage to get a decent break during the summer? The answer is often a combination of bargain-hunting, thorough research and good timing and in today's tough financial climate, there's a lot of help out there for the wise holiday-planner.
One of the tried and tested methods is simply to browse online. Separate flights and accommodation can sometimes work out cheaper, especially if you make good use of comparison websites and search in advance. Many people find good value in all-inclusives through sites like Holiday Hypermarket and there are merits in looking 4-6 weeks ahead for last-minute deals, though it helps if you're less picky about where you're going. This said, exotic destinations like Thailand can still prove doable if you get your timing right.
The biggest expense you're likely to incur is accommodation, so to afford a holiday that doesn't feel like a budget break, consider all the options. If you don't fancy backpacker hostels, try home-stays, which can normally be organized via the web and can be extremely reasonable or even free, if you offer up your own property in exchange. The next step up, self-catering can be a good way of controlling your holiday spend, as you can buy in food instead of eating out and live more of a local lifestyle while you're away.
Camping is heralded by many as the ultimate low-cost holiday, but it doesn't appeal to everyone. There are now a range of options that fall under the term ‘glamping', which can mean anything from a vintage gypsy caravan to a hand-made yurt. Plenty xoffer facilities like basic cooking equipment, power access and chic interiors. Add to this some stunning locations from the Scottish Highlands to the Loire Valley and you could get the feel of a luxury stay for under £20 a night.
Finally, some destinations are naturally cheaper when compared with popular tourist spots. For instance, if you can't afford the Maldives, try the island of Korcula off the Adriatic coast of Croatia for equally beautiful beaches. Similarly, a couple of weeks in South Africa might cost you upwards of £2000 depending on who you're traveling with, while if you head to the Gambia, you'll still be rewarded with the African climate and the exciting wildlife, whilst hanging onto a lot more of your savings.
It really is possible to find discounts on most global destinations these days. It's all about changing your approach to planning and travelling itself; once you start thinking on a budget, it's surprising how much you can get for your money. By making use of online shopping, getting creative with your accommodation and staying flexible, that dream holiday can still be within your grasp.
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