When planning a holiday, everyone wants to ensure that they get the best value for money. This not only applies to your travel and accommodation, but also the extra pennies to spend while you’re away on the essential holiday treats.
To help stretch your budget further, we’ve got some great last-minute deals and if your dates are flexible then you really could have a fantastic holiday at a fantastic price.
If you’re all booked and ready to go, we’ve put together our top tips on how to make the most of your holiday money.
Shop around for the best exchange rate
While generally most places offer a very similar exchange rate, it’s still worth taking a bit of time to shop around and find the highest that you can. If you’re exchanging a large amount, you could gain a lot of extra cash from that extra €0.1! A lot of companies allow you to pre-book your currency online (sometimes offering preferential rates) and you can pop in and pick it up later that day when it suits you. Don’t be tempted to leave it to the last minute and purchase your currency at the airport or on your cross channel sailing – you’ll find that the exchange rates are much higher than online or on the high street.
Using your mobile phone
While it can be hard switching off your phone, take your holiday as an opportunity to disconnect and relax from real life for a while. Leaving your phone on can be costly when you’re abroad – particularly with the extortionate charges for data roaming. A lot of the campsites offer wi-fi or a place to connect to the internet so there’s always a chance for you to catch up with the outside world. If you know that you will need to use your phone while you’re away, always check with your network provider to ensure that you are on the correct roaming tariff. Some network providers, such as ‘Three’ now allow their users to use their phones to make and receive calls and texts while they’re in Europe at no extra cost – it simply comes out of your personal monthly allowance.
Eating out is one of the most pleasurable parts of being on holiday. It’s a great chance to try new dishes, indulge in local cuisine and spend some quality time together, plus no one has to do the washing up! A good value option when eating out is to order the ‘menu of the day’. This is usually a two or three course meal that is cooked using local ingredients and generally offers better value than ordering ‘à la carte’.
A top tip is to have your main meal at lunch time. Most restaurants offer a fixed price lunchtime menu that is just as good as the evening one, but priced a few euros cheaper. It’s also worth staying away from the main tourist attractions in most towns and cities and looking for restaurants that are hidden away down side streets. Even just going two or three streets away from the main areas can make a dramatic difference to the cost.
If you are ordering wine with your meal, ask for the house wine. It is generally of good standard and will be cheaper than buying a named bottle. It is usually decanted into a glass bottle or jug, and served in quarter, half or full litres. A quarter litre usually works out better value than ordering one or two glasses. If you want water to accompany your meal, and you’re not fussed about drinking the local water, ask for a jug or glass, which is usually free and better than paying for expensive mineral water.
…and eating in
A self-catering holiday is already one of the most budget friendly holidays; so make use of the cooking facilities in your Canvas accommodation. You will find that the larger local supermarkets have a great range of products, and as at home, often have special offers and two for one deals. Like at home, it is cheaper to buy multi packs, so buy large items such as bottled water in bulk. If you are taking your car, why not take essential items such as tea, coffee and washing up liquid with you from home?
Visit the market for buying your local produce. It makes a free, fun day out for the whole family, and don’t forget that you can always try your hand at bartering! Try eating seasonal fruit and vegetables, and buy local products whenever possible. It is worth stocking up on your favourite foreign products before you travel home. Items such as cheese and wine are usually much cheaper than in the UK supermarkets.
Activities and days out
If you are planning on city sightseeing and visiting museums while you are away, make sure you buy any available city passes or museum passes, which give discounted entry to museums, attractions and public transport. Some attractions offer a discounted rate if you buy your tickets online before you leave home – it is worth doing a bit of research and booking in advance if possible.
On the first Sunday of every month, some museums in the big European cities offer free entry – in Paris, the Pompidou Centre and the National Museums (excluding the Grand Palais) take part in this. Unfortunately the Louvre only takes part in the free entry on the first Sunday from October to March and not during the busy summer months.
Try to avoid buying your petrol and diesel on the motorway. You will find that it is much more expensive than in the towns. Supermarket petrol stations usually offer the cheapest option for buying fuel. Make sure that you use the self-service option if it is available. Many local stations will charge a few cents extra a litre if the attendant fills your car up for you.
If you’ve got any tips for great ways to help stretch your holiday budget that little bit further, we’d love to hear.