Mr Simple and I have recently returned from a week away in the Yorkshire Dales. There is a lot of information on the internet about travel hacking e.g. house-sitting, accruing credit card points to get flights, but this is not for everyone and it’s not something that I have got around to exploring yet. What I have done though is to try and reduce our spending on our regular holidays and I have to say that this recent one was a somewhat frugal break compared to those we have had in the past. I therefore thought that I would share with you how we cut our spending.
Holiday in a cheap area
Our holiday destinations are somewhat random due to the fact that Mr Simple bought a load of ordnance survey maps a few years ago when they had a two for one offer. Many of them remain unused and so I have started selecting a few and getting him to choose one. I then arrange a holiday in that area. Last year we went to Hastings, which was very expensive, but this year’s choice was much cheaper. We find that accommodation in the north of England often tends to cost less than in the south. Our cottage was £379 for the week, whereas accommodation of the same size in Hastings was £600.
Stay in a house or flat rather than a hotel or bed and breakfast. This is usually cheaper per night and allows you to cook some of your own meals instead of having to fork out for food every evening. Since trying to cut our household costs I have started shopping at Tesco, whereas before we used Waitrose. As a treat for this holiday I did the shopping in Waitrose. In that way, even though we were catering for ourselves some of the meals/snacks/treats were nicer than we usually have.
Stay in small accommodation
We stayed in a one-bedroom cottage. It had one main room downstairs with the lounge and kitchen area. The eating area was a breakfast bar with stools. The bedroom was small with very little clearance between the end of the bed and the wall. Mr Simple had to shuffle around to his side all the time, including the in the middle of the night when he needed a wee. I did offer to swap sides with him, but he said that he wouldn’t be able to sleep if we did that. The size of the cottage made us appreciate our much larger home when we came back from holiday.
Cook your own meals for the majority of the week
We tend to have a meal at a pub on the way to our holiday accommodation, as it breaks up the journey. It feels less tiring when you’ve had a break and don’t have to cook a meal when you arrive, as you’ve already had your main meal of the day. We then have one day during the week where we visit a town and have a long lunch and then we stop for food on the way home. Outside of these times we cook meals in the cottage. We treated ourselves to a lovely three course leisurely lunch on the way home, courtesy of Mr Simple’s mother who had given us £100 as she had received some unexpected dividends.
Plan your meals
Menu plan thoroughly so that you take as much of the food that you need as you can. You can’t take everything as some things e.g. bread, will go off, but you can take the majority. If you plan well you won’t have to pop out to the local shop, which is likely to be expensive and may involve using petrol, to get items that you have forgotten. I’m not always very good at this, but made a special effort this time and it worked out well. Cooking is so much easier when you have a plan. I even weighed out ingredients for pizza dough and took them in a food bag, putting on a label stating what needed to be added. That might been a bit too organised for you, but it worked well and meant that I didn’t have to take a whole bag of flour.
Do free activities
These include walking in the countryside, cycling and birdwatching. If you followed our staycation in March you will know that Mr Simple and I enjoy these activities, which are usually free. If the countryside isn’t your thing then maybe try city/town walking tours or parks. You can usually pick up a leaflet from the local tourist information office and they often take you to interesting parts of the town that you may not discover on your own. When Mr Simple and I are on holiday in France I have often dragged him around the town to work up an appetite for dinner.
Check what is provided
Before you go check with the cottage owners what is available in the accommodation so that you take everything that you need. Be as specific as you can. A couple of years ago I asked if they provided toilet roll, to which the answer was yes, but when we got there they provided only one roll, which obviously didn’t last for the week. This time I asked, ‘Do you provide toilet roll and if so how many?’ They probably think that I am a bit of a pain, but last time we ended up having to buy more when I had loads in the cupboard at home that I could have taken with us. Mr Simple and I love Classic Cottages as they provide an inventory for their cottages, which is so useful. Unfortunately they only cover the south west of England and we have not come across this practice with other cottage providers.
If they provide it – use it
We took tea bags with us, but when we arrived we found that some were provided. We used these first before using our own ones and they lasted just over half the week.
Take plenty of treats
Buy treats to have in the cottage so you’re not tempted to stop at the café for tea and cake on your way home or go to the pub every evening. We stopped at the pub in the local village after our last walk and there was tea and cake in a café on one day, but that was it.
Go out for lunch instead of dinner
When you go out for a meal make it lunch rather than dinner. You will find that restaurants do a cheaper lunch menu, usually with slightly smaller portions, but in my book that’s good as I can manage three courses. This is one of my favourite things – lingering over a long lunch. Unfortunately on this holiday it wasn’t outside in the sunshine, but we had a great meal nevertheless in a pub just off of the M5 – courtesy of the Good Pub Guide.
So there it is, just a few ideas for keeping more of those pennies in your pocket when you go away. I hope you found something useful and I would be interested to know how you keep your spending under control when you are on holiday.