How to travel cheaply

There are lots of ways to save money when travelling, including finding the best deal on a price comparison site, booking at the right time of year, choosing cheaper alternatives to hotels, and even exploring the UK on a ‘staycation.’

Woman at a hotel reception desk checking out

Price comparison websites

You can save a lot on your holiday by shopping around. Price-comparison sites make it easy to find a cheap flight and the best-value hotels and car hire from the comfort of your living room.

Several price comparison travel websites let you set alerts on the costs of hotels and flights, so you know when your perfect holiday goes down in price.

The best-value trips aren’t always the cheapest though. With price comparison websites soaring in popularity, companies are doing all they can to offer the lowest price possible. Sometimes that means scrimping on extras like breakfast and free Wi-Fi. 

So, if you think you’ve found a deal that’s too good to be true, check the finer details of the booking to make sure it includes everything you’re expecting.

Once you’re sure you’ve found the best price, you could consider using a purchase card to pay for the trip. The advantage of this type of credit card is that, as long as you repay what you borrow before the promotional period ends, pay the minimum balance on time every month and stay within your credit limit, you won’t pay any extra in interest. See what purchase cards Barclaycard has to offer.

Consider alternatives to hotels

Hotels are easy and reliable. You can turn up, check in, unwind and dive straight into enjoying your holiday.

However, hotels don’t always offer the best value. For larger groups, explore the idea of renting a villa or an apartment, there’s also the option of hostels. You might find you make a significant saving compared to paying for multiple hotel rooms.

Choose the right time to book

Prices peak in the school summer holiday, with both flights and accommodation skyrocketing. If you want to stretch your travel budget as far as possible, it’s best to book out of season. But remember that bank holidays, special occasions and popular local events like the beer festival Oktoberfest can make prices soar again.

The sooner you start looking, the more likely you are to find deals and discounts.

If you’ve got kids, it isn’t always possible to go on holiday out of season. A good rule of thumb is to plan ahead and book early to get a bargain. Some tour operators even offer free children’s places.

Beat additional charges

Airport parking

If you have a choice of where you fly from, compare the parking prices before booking your tickets. Or, if your selection is more restricted, you could still make a saving by booking your parking at least 48 hours in advance. You can also skip parking altogether by getting to the airport using a pre-booked taxi, coach, or regular rail or bus service.

Bring your own food

Airport food can be expensive. To remove the temptation of overindulging while waiting for your flight, eat before you set off to the airport. You can also take your own food onto the plane (as long as it’s not a liquid, like soup).

Beat baggage fees

Weighing your luggage before you leave home is a good way to avoid an excess baggage fee at the airport. If you’re a little over, try wearing larger clothing items instead of packing them (within reason, of course!).

Avoid airport exchange rates

Airport exchange rates aren’t always the best because they know it’s your last chance to get foreign cash. You can shop around online or try your local high street for the most generous rate before heading off.

Take advantage of your credit card

You can use your credit card to book part or all of your holiday, which means you could get your money back if your travel company or airline goes under. Conditions apply.

Consider a staycation

A staycation (staying at home in the UK for your vacation) can work out much cheaper than a trip further afield. Train tickets booked far in advance can be more affordable than flights to a foreign destination, and there are lots of budget-friendly activities to choose from, including free festivals. You also don’t need to pay for travel insurance, baggage fees and exchanging cash.

What's next?

If you’re planning a holiday and want the protection and benefits of paying with a credit card, check out our purchase cards.

More about our purchase cards