/ Travel & Leisure

Bagging a bargain break in Britain

The pound isn’t looking too rosy, and queuing for ages at Dover might not be your idea of a good time, so you may be thinking of a UK holiday this summer. What are your tips for an affordable break back home?

We got the idea for this Convo from a tip Quincy Stone shared with the Convo community on cutting the cost of holidaying with a toddler.

‘My husband and I occasionally like to visit hotels within an hour or two of our home. Occasionally, about three times a year, we take our now three-year-old grandson along. Usually they are four- or five-star places.’

But the couple found that when they booked online the price of, for example, £150 a night for a double room could shoot up to £220 to £500 – for sharing a room with a toddler who would usually have to sleep on a  ‘put you up’ beside the bed.

They got around this by booking a future visit and then going to the hotel in person and asking at  reception for a ‘put you up’ for that future visit. This usually came to just an extra £20-£30.

Let’s face it, we could all do with a few moneysaving ideas, as the UK itself can be an expensive place to holiday.

Travelling on the cheap

Travel can take a big chunk out of your holiday budget.

I usually travel with my other half and find my Two Together railcard a lifesaver for journeys all over the country. And when I lived in London, I had a Network railcard too, which knocked a third off train ticket prices when I travelled by myself in the South East. Spending £20 or £30 on a railcard can be a really great investment for saving plenty of cash on your holiday rail travel.

I’ve also saved a fair bit of cash using other tips for travelling cheaply, including ticket splitting.

Taking a Megabus is a low-cost way to get between major towns and cities. I used it as a student in 2004 and it meant enduring three-hour journeys between Birmingham and London in a simple double-decker bus. But these days the buses are much swankier and the fares can be really low if you book far enough in advance or can be really flexible about when you travel.

You’ll have to help me with motoring moneysaving tips though as I’m no expert on driving. Fuel costs anyone? Or how do you keep car hire costs in check?

Good deals on things to do

So you’ve booked your travel to a beautiful part of Britain and saved a fair amount in the process. But what do you do when you get there? If you don’t want to blow the holiday budget now, it pays to be prepared. Start looking around now for vouchers on cereal packets and tokens in newspapers if you or anyone in the family might want to visit an expensive theme park during the trip.

It’s also worth keeping an eye out for special cards that offer you discounted or free entry into attractions in a particular city or area. Whether or not they represent good value depends on how many attractions you’ll be able to visit, and it might still be cheaper to buy student or pensioner tickets if you’re eligible.

Are you planning a holiday in the UK this summer? How do you keep costs low while still having an enjoyable and comfortable trip?

This convo was inspired by a tip shared by Quincy Stone in our ideas section.


Don’t eat out, go self-catering, and go when and where there’s a doors open day or weekend. If you stay in a hotel on a room only basis, don’t have breakfast there, go hunting for a cheaper breakfast elsewhere.

We went for a city break in Liverpool in May this year. We cut the travel cost in half by flying from Edinburgh instead of taking the train (!), but we blew the budget by going to the cinema, eating out and visiting museums at full price. In comparison we went to Newcastle two years ago when there was a doors open day weekend and we visited very interesting places for free.

Incidentally we certainly wouldn’t have paid to visit those places otherwise, but they added a dimension to the city that run-of-the-mill places wouldn’t have. There was also a far, far bigger list of places to visit in the doors open weekend leaflet than there were in the obvious tourist office list, so plenty more ideas and choice as well.

When taking your young children with you book a hotel where just pay for the room. Then you can usually have up to four people sharing the room without paying extra

Always ask on arrival for an upgrade. It’s surprising how often they give you one.

If you’re going to stay anywhere for more than a few nights, avoid hotel costs altogether by renting a house, flat or cottage. If you have some flexibility regarding location, save even more by booking just before you go – when last minute price reductions become available.

Also, avoid expensive attractions by choosing a location with a nice beach or great walks.

If you luck out, then you’ll even get a place with wifi, so you can keep up with the latest convos (and weather forecasts) just before you set off for the each day’s activities. 🙂

Research your destination to death before booking. That way you acquire a surrogate familiarity so you’re better placed to enjoy the visit. This particularly applies to Theme Park visits. As a travel guide author who specialises in Disney theme parks I can confidently say that planning a theme park trip in detail before you visit will not only save you a great deal of money, but also a lot of stress, angst, confusion, irritation and despair. Happy ‘coasting!

Hotel and dining costs are so expensive in Britain if relying on a good location. Bung on the transport costs and/or parking fees and it could work out practically the same price as seeking guaranteed sunshine abroad.

Hotel and dining costs are so expensive in Britain if relying on a good location. Bung on the transport costs and/or parking fees and it could work out practically the same price as seeking guaranteed sunshine abroad.

Camping? Cheaper than renting a property and you get to cook for yourself saving even more.