Holidays & Travel

Top tips for keeping your staycation in budget

Here’s how to keep your holiday spends in check.

The location you choose could play a big part
A family running together on the beach in front of the sea The location you choose could play a big part (Alamy Stock Photo)

One in three people plan to holiday in the UK this year, with many planning on spending more on a break than they did in 2023, new research suggests.

Meanwhile, one in four people plan to holiday abroad this year, according to the 2024 Travel Trends Report by hotel chain Travelodge, which surveyed 2,000 adults. One in five respondents said they plan to spend more money on travelling throughout the year.

Location was said to be the most important factor for a “staycation” holiday, although two-thirds said value for money was an essential consideration.

A Travelodge spokesperson said: “Travelodge’s 2024 Travel Trends Report reveals that Brits are still prioritising travel despite the ongoing cost-of-living crisis. We are seeing a broad spectrum of curiosity in UK travel, with location and value now being the most important factors.”

Hoping to make the most of your travel budget this year? Here are some top tips from travel experts for keeping your staycation spending on track…

Choose your location wisely

Babbacombe beach in Torquay, UK. (Alamy Stock Photo)

The location you choose for your UK staycation is crucial, as it can greatly impact your overall experience. It’s the biggest factor in how much money you can save along the way, according to Francesca Houldsworth, a travel expert at Verdant Leisure.

“Particularly for families who can only travel in term times, it is important to avoid tourist traps such as major cities and overly crowded beaches as they will be more costly, including your accommodation and dining out,” said Houldsworth.

“Parks such as Riverside (Northumberland) and Viewfield Manor (Scotland) are situated in areas of natural beauty that not only provide a relaxing and peaceful environment, but also make for affordability when it comes to your stay.”

Find deals on transport

Getting to know how locals transport themselves around their town or city could also add to your experience and help keep costs down. This could be anything from trams and trains to buses, or even daily bike-hire schemes that are available to the members of the public.

Planning in advance usually means better rates on things like train fares too, and be sure to check out railcard offers.

Tourists on an open topped bus at Lands End in cornwall UK (Alamy Stock Photo)

“Whether you are making your journey by car, train, bus or even aeroplane, saving money on transport will be on your mind. Look for discounts and vouchers that can be used when travelling, most public transport will be either discounted or free for children under a certain age,” said Houldsworth.

Avoid third-party online travel agents

When you think about booking a staycation, the first place most people go to is online marketplaces for short and long-term homestays and experiences. But Mark Simpson, founder of Boostly, believes there could be better ways to stay within your budget.

2GMMWG4 Family with small daughter cooking indoors, winter holiday in private apartment. (Alamy Stock Photo)

“When looking for accommodation for a staycation, avoid using third-party online travel agents,” said Simpson. “They typically add around 15% in guest service fees (to cover things like cleaning), which instantly bumps up the cost of your stay. Instead, book accommodation directly.

“You’ll find that most hotels, apartments and cottages in the UK have their own direct booking websites, which cut out hefty commission fees and save you money on your stay.”

Opt for a kitchen or kitchenette

One of the biggest expenses on holiday in terms of spending money is eating out. Self-catering and being canny with meals could help cut back costs.

“Opt for accommodations with a kitchen, or at least a kitchenette,” said Simpson. “Being able to cook your meals can dramatically bring down the cost of a staycation, rather than eating out every evening. Generally, one big food shop should do you for a few days away, and remember to pack your own olive oil, salt, pepper and spices to save you from buying new ones for cooking.

“When choosing accommodation, look for self-catering apartments, holiday rentals, or family-run B&Bs – they’re usually cheaper and offer a more personalised experience than big hotel chains too.”

Be your own tour guide

Feature on families living in Porthleven, Cornwall. Pictured are Dan and Tryphaena Joel, and their children (Alamy Stock Photo)

“The UK is home to some incredible natural landscapes, from the beaches of Cornwall to the Scottish Highlands. Don’t be afraid to be your own tour guide – it’s completely free to walk along the beach or explore a town, and it really is the best way to get to know somewhere new,” said Simpson.

“If you have children, it’s always worth checking out if there are any free local activities taking place. Local libraries, for example, sometimes organise free storytelling events for children. Local newspapers and community bulletin boards often list upcoming free events. Platforms like Eventbrite or local Facebook groups can also be valuable resources for finding family-friendly activities in the area.”