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Beat the credit crunch with our top 10 budget travel tips

Posted by Lucy Fennings on October 31st, 2008

Who says the financial gloom-mongers’ talk of a recession need rain on your parade? And who says you have to give up your well-earned spoil-yourself boutique breaks because of it? Here are Mr & Mrs Smith’s top ‘style on a shoestring’ tips for travelling smarter and making your money go further …

1. It may sound blindingly obvious, but if you travel closer to home, you’ll save a bundle on travel costs (especially with petrol prices taking a nosedive recently – although those just as concerned about saving the planet as they are saving cash might like to investigate advance fares and split tickets*). We’ve already extolled the virtues of the great British coast, but how about exploring some of its glorious countryside: the Cotswolds, the Peak District, Harrogate and the Dales, Devon, the Brecon Beacons… it’s all there for the taking.

Weekends in Harrogate, North Yorkshire

Or why not rediscover your own city? Spend the night in London or New York (or Edinburgh, or LA, or wherever you live), and spend the days doing things you’ve been meaning to do for ages: see an exhibition at Tate Modern/MoMA; take in a West End/Broadway show; hit the shops; have dinner at ‘that’ restaurant…

2. Make your travel cash (and time) go further: take more short breaks, instead of bi-annunal two-weekers. Snap up city-break destination deals from budget airlines (just check how far away the airport is), and you can splurge what you’ve saved in airfares on dinner in Paris, shopping in Milan – or on a city luxury hotel.

3. Travel smart: join a club that will get you extra discounts and offers (there are bound to be more enticing offers from hotels and travel agents in the coming months, as they try to lure us through their doors). BlackSmith membership, for example, gives you access to a fantastic members-only hotel discounts and travel offers, including two-for-one deals, dinner for free, or up to 50 per cent off room rates at stylish hotels round the world.

Holiday in Marrakech, Morocco – Dar-Darma – salon4. Find budget travel hotels: search our selection of budget boutique hotels to find affordable chic and luxe-for-less hotel accommodation. The stylish properties listed in our collection all offer double rooms for under £150 max (and often far less, especially in destinations such as Marrakech).

5. Travel off-peak: if you book hotel stays midweek rather than over the weekend, they are always cheaper. Some destinations are surprisingly cheap in low season, too, and if you don’t mind taking a gamble on the weather or skipping a few closed museums, there are bargains to be had. Rome in August, for example, sees many restaurants and galleries closed, but hotel rates are often slashed (and frankly, the sights you don’t have to go inside to enjoy – such as the Colosseum, Trajan’s forum, the Appian Way and the Trevi Fountain – are more than enough to keep you occupied for a few days). The Maldives can also be a good bet off-season: even in ‘rainy’ May, you’d be unlucky if your holiday was a total wash-out – most days will probably stay dry.

6. Capitalise on weak exchange rates: go somewhere your currency will go further and make you feel rich. Iceland, for example (plus as a tourist you’ll be giving the local economy a badly needed boost). Or Europe, if you hail from across the pond.

7. Double up: tag holidays onto business trips – by tacking a few play days onto your working holiday, you should save yourself at least a return airfare, if not a bit more. Your partner may be able to join you before a weekend, saving you a few nights’ accommodation, too.

Lux 11 hotel in Berlin – kitchenette8. Save on eating out: select hotels with rooms that have kitchenettes or communal kitchen/dining areas – this way you can concoct yourself a simple meal or picnic dinner and add a day or two to your holiday with what you’ve saved on pricey a la carte dinners. Some Smith hotels with shared kitchen facilities or rooms with kitchenettes (check specific room details when booking) include: Jia in Hong Kong, Llety Bodfor in Wales, La Bandita in Tuscany, Desert Palm in Dubai, Cotswold House hotel, Lux 11 in Berlin, Can Curreu in Ibiza, Residenza Napoleone III in Rome and Sofa Hotel & Residences in Istanbul.

9. Go on holiday with friends or family: this way you can split nanny fees, taxi fares, car hire and all sorts of other expenses. Sharing the cost of self-catering properties or ski chalets can also bring down your holiday spend, since the cost per person per night is usually far lower than hotel room rates.

10. And finally, think quality, not quantity: you may be tempted by those budget-travel package deals (‘How bad can it be?’, you ask yourself), but trust us: if it’s not your usual style of holiday, it might turn out to be a total waste of money, or worse, simply hellish – a depressing and costly mistake. Cheap all-inclusive packages are usually cheap for very good reason, so don’t slum it. Go somewhere you’d usually go, but shave off a few of the non-essential luxuries: consider going for 10 days instead of two weeks; switch the chauffeur-driven limo for a high-speed train or hire car; go for a walk along the beach instead of zorbing down a hillside; drink a few less of those cripplingly expensive ‘style-bar’ cocktails and a few more glasses of local wine instead. Santé.

* A note on so-called split tickets: moneysavingexpert.com points out you can save a bundle by buying single fares for each stage of rail journeys that require changes rather than a round-trip return fare: for example, the cheapest return ticket from London to Penzance costs £257. However if you buy four singles (London–Plymouth; Plymouth–Penzance; Penzance–Plymouth; Plymouth–London), it will only cost you £48. This is the same journey on exactly the same scheduled trains for £209 less! Read more fare-busting tips… then book yourself a nice long weekend break in Cornwall!

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12 Responses to “Beat the credit crunch with our top 10 budget travel tips”

  1. In addition to renting places with kitchens (which I try and do often,) I visit street cafes and markets for meals on the go.

    Especially when traveling solo, you can buy fruit on the street for under $1 in New York, visit food stands and enjoy the experience and save time rather than sitting through stuffy meals lasting hours.

    I splurge on a few nice restaurants, but overall I eat very cheap – and healthy too

    By james

  2. [...] out the full article here [...]

    By Mr & Mrs Smith on the Credit Crunch | Metrotels - Boutique & Design Hotel News and Specials

  3. Great tips!

    By Nomadic Matt

  4. Good tips. When getting to the airport itself, I’d also suggest avoiding paying for petrol, or extortionate airport parking, by using a low cost airport transfer company like http://www.easybus.co.uk

    By Luke

  5. Great tips!

    I’ll add a #11) Make lunch your big meal of the day.

    Restaurants, especially in continental Europe and at large hotels, charge less for lunch than they do dinner even though the meal they serve is the exact same. Sometimes it is easier getting a great table at lunch too.

    By Spot Cool Stuff

  6. [...] have any travel-trend predictions for this year? With the shaky economy, I think travellers will stay closer to home and rediscover local destinations. Even in times such as these, a weekend away for a little rest [...]

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  8. [...] found the same – in fact shorter trips closer to home is one of our top 10 budget travel tips, and it’s interesting to see that this actually reflects what many Mr & Mrs Smith members [...]

    By Adam Rugel

  9. Very shrewd tips! We shall now travel for longer and travel happier :)

    By Ed

  10. Good tips! I also suggest to use a personal finance software with a cellphone or PDA phone. This makes recording and tracking expenses much easier. An Excel sheet on a PDA would do very well as a personal finance planner and it can be easily transferred to a PC for expenses tracking and archiving.

    By pps

  11. [...] trips and, now, there’s the ‘traincation’ – thanks to the growing trend for budget boutique breaks and eco-luxe getaways, rail travel is experiencing a renewed surge in popularity. Of course, new [...]

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