The art of cheap holidays: Part 3

In my previous posts I explained how I saved money (and how you can too) by looking around for cheap flights and accommodation. Using cashback sites like TopCashBack and Quidco also saves further on hotels and car hire.

Further savings can be made on car hire.

I previously touched on fuel policy options. These ‘unforeseen extras’ can cost significantly. Other things to watch out for are:

  • GPS/SatNav: do you need this? Are you going to get hopelessly lost? Driving abroad and navigating on the ‘wrong’ side of the road can be tricky and often stressful – especially if you’ve got kids in the back yelling ‘are we there yet‘ and ‘Daaaaad, I need to go to the toilet‘. Places are often not as well signed posted as in the UK. If you arrive at night/early hours of the morning and it’s dark, navigation is further complicated. But SatNav systems are often charged out at extortionate per-day prices. If you have a standalone unit at home, take it with you! Just make sure that the relevant maps are downloaded on the unit before you go. Or purchase a data package for your phone for your holiday period, and use Google maps or a similar mapping/GPS app.
  • Children’s car seat/booster: A legal requirement if you have kids, these can be charged out at ludicrous prices: frustrating when you can buy a basic booster for a tenner back home. I think I had to pay about £40 extra on a recent car hire for a week in Spain. Look around; some car hire companies include these free of charge. If not, could you squeeze yours in your luggage and take it with you? Do you even need a hire car? With the child seat costs factored in, might it be cheaper to get a taxi/transfer/bus?
  • Insurance: Do you really need the extra cover? Basic insurance cover is usually sufficient, depending on your driving skills that is! Most car hire companies will try and sell you extra cover when you arrive at their office to collect the car, usually scaring you into it by ‘blocking’ a huge amount on your credit card as a deposit, or quoting a massive excess in the case of any claim. Make sure you check what is covered before you get there and decide whether you really need any extra cover. Look around; some companies offer significantly more cover as standard. Check local road conditions: for example, on a recent trip to Iceland, I was advised that there’s lots of gravel roads and you should consider the extra gravel damage cover. As it was, we only went for 2 days and stuck to main roads (apart from once or twice, where I drove carefully) so opted for the cheaper basic cover.

Also note that if you do have an accident and have to pay for car repairs, your holiday insurance may cover this.

Another money saving aspect to consider is baggage costs, especially where the cheap airlines are involved. Hold baggage on Ryanair and Easyjet can be considerably expensive, but they do allow a reasonably large bag on board for free – and Ryanair now even allow an additional smaller bag to be taken onboard. Do you really need to pay for a suitcase to go in the hold? If it’s a 5 day holiday, can you fit enough clothes in the onboard baggage?

I can.

In fact, I managed a 10 day trip once (post coming soon!), although admittedly I did wash and dry (on the balcony) a few clothes whilst there.

Which I’m sure those with sensitive noses would be relieved to hear 🙂

Mind you, I don’t exactly have to pack shampoo or a hairdryer…

Wizzair does some excellent cheap flights, particularly to Central and Eastern Europe, but watch out – they’ve recently reduced their onboard baggage allowance to much less than the other budget airlines such as Ryanair and Easyjet. I still would recommend them though for their excellent service; their inflight food has recently been upgraded too and offers a more premium menu. They also have some incredibly cheap options to more exotic locations such as Dubai and Tel Aviv if you are willing to go indirect, via Budapest, Bucharest or Sofia.

Airport car parking if also something to take into account when planning your holiday expenditure.

If you are only away for a short break, driving and paying airport car parking fees can often be cheaper than paying for taxis or trains fares to the airport – especially if you look around and use the cash back sites.

I usually google ‘airport car parking‘ and the destination airport name and make a note of the first four or five companies that come up. I then open up my old friend TopCashBack and search for those merchants, and check which ones are offering the most cash-back. I’ll then open their sites via the TopCashBack links, enter the necessary details for a quote, and compare prices. Often they are very similar but one site may have as much as 20% cashback compared to another’s 4%, so I know which one I’ll go for…

If you’re in no rush then you can usually get the cheaper car parking that’s off site and requires a transfer. Just bear in mind though that you often have to wait 10-15 mins for the transfer, and the transfer can take 10-15 mins depending on traffic, so leave enough time for airport check-in/security. There seems to be more and more on site or “meet and greet” services these days; if you can get a decent cashback offer and bring the price down then these may be worth considering.

I’ve not covered hostels or backpacking or hitchhiking in any of my posts.


I have no personal experience of them. I’m not going to blog about something I know nothing about; I will only write about things that I have a particular interest in and have done the research or have some experience in. Of course you can save money hitchhiking. Of course you can save money sleeping in a shared hostel. But there are pros and cons of each which I’m not experienced to advise on.

All I can advise is on my own travel experiences in the last few years and that I’ve managed to travel far and wide, frequently and relatively cheap, based on these money saving tips.

Hopefully you’ll be able to save some cash too 🙂

Happy Holidays!



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