Saving Money on Your Winter Vacation
The start of a new year can be terrible. It’s cold outside, you’re flat broke after Christmas, and your business may be quiet. January can feel like it’s dragging on forever, with nothing to break up the dull grey boredom. Many people struggle with depression and seasonal affective disorder as winter drags on. The cold weather, poor finances and distinct lack of sunlight all contributing to a negative mood.
A little winter sun or a fun skiing holiday to embrace the weather might sound appealing. But, how can you justify the expense after spending a fortune on Christmas? Well, there are plenty of ways to save money and still have a fantastic trip. Here is a good look at some of the best.
Book Last Minute
Winter is very much upon us, so really you’ve got no choice but to book last minute. But, if you want to save money and have a fun adventure, leave booking as long as you can. Book a week off work. Most businesses are trying to cut costs in the new year, and are happy to give staff some holiday time. Then, as that week approaches, start looking to see what’s available. You might end up somewhere you’d never have considered, but it’ll be cheap and a great way to find somewhere new.
Look online for the best deals on hotels and flights, but also for activities while you are away. Places will often run deals at the start of the year as their own businesses struggle to pull in tourists in the same way they do over the summer months.
Avoid Popular Tourist Traps
Even if they are available last minute, the popular tourist traps will still be more expensive and are best avoided when it comes to saving money.
The same applies to activities, restaurants and events when you arrive at your destination. Popular tourist traps are always going to be busier than destinations that appeal to the local market. Stick to small, family-run restaurants and explore authentic local attractions that are cheaper and give you a more realistic view of local life.
Now foreign travel is so commonplace, there are more than a few airlines to choose from. In some cases, booking your break as a package, including flight and accommodation may work out cheaper. But, it’s often less expensive to search out budget flights and then book accommodation separately.
Budget and foreign airlines are often much cheaper and usually allow you to save money by choosing not to have a meal or to only take carry-on luggage.
Explore Alternative Accommodation
Luxury hotels and spas are fantastic, and it can be well worth paying extra to get pampered and looked after at every turn. Some of these hotels offer excellent services and facilities which can make a holiday extra special. But, you don’t need them.
If you are working on a tight budget, avoid larger, more popular hotels, unless you can get them on a brilliant last-minute deal. Instead look at smaller, family-run b&bs, budget hotel rooms and even hostels. Airbnb offers another great alternative if you are traveling on a budget. Find some cheap flights, then look for an Airbnb nearby. You could even put your own home on to earn some extra money while you are away.
When booking accommodation, it’s important to take your time. Don’t see a deal that you think is good and book it straight away. Shop around and compare prices. But, you also need to bare location in mind. A room might look cheap, but consider how much your transfer from the airport might cost and how much you could end up spending traveling to the city center or to attractions each day. You may find that a more expensive, better-placed option is better value for money.
Try Free Activities
Even if you manage to find cheap flights and accommodation, you could easily spend a fortune while you are on your vacation. Tourist attractions can cost a fortune, just like they do back home. While some of these may be cheaper in the winter, or if booked in advance of your visit, it may not be much of a saving.
Fortunately, there is plenty that you can do without spending a penny. Again, just like there is at home. Explore the sites of whatever location you end up in on foot. Taking in the local culture and architecture. Visit free museums and art galleries and spend some time sitting in parks, enjoying the sights.
You could also spend time chatting with the locals. Many new travelers are wary of people when they travel, but while it’s always best to be careful, that doesn’t have to stop you getting to know people. You’ll probably find most people are friendly and only too happy to advise you on what you can do on a budget.
If you plan on traveling a lot while at your destination it can be a good idea to look at public transport passes or city-wide tickets before you leave.
Cook Your Own Meals
One of the biggest expenses, wherever you are, is always food. Eating out every day can quickly become expensive. While eating at smaller establishments will be cheaper than large chain restaurants, you can save even more by making your own food.
If your accommodation has the facilities to cook a meal, head to the local market and buy the ingredients to have a go at making some local delicacies yourself. If not, you should still be able to put together a picnic for your days out or at least make yourself breakfast.
If you are going on a budget break, avoid buying souvenirs for your friends and family. They’ll understand. Send photo postcards instead to let them know you miss them and are having a great time.
If you can take time off work, getting away for a little in January or February can be a great way to reduce stress, ease depression and get away from any family dramas that Christmas may have thrown up. It’ll also help you to get out there are be more active, ensuring that you start the year on a high and set the tone for some wonderful times to come.