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Cheap Holidays - Tips

Updated on October 21, 2009

Sometimes taking a cheap holiday is the only way to have a vacation away from home and by employing some great money saving tips outlined here you can still take the holiday of your dreams.

Many years ago, before the internet was a major source of travel information, I was a travel agent and I helped people to choose cheap holidays. Here are some cheap holidays tips learnt from the people I helped.

Typically the cost of travel can be grouped into four major categories:

  • Airfares or travel costs to reach the destination;
  • Accommodation;
  • Food;
  • Spending and incidentals.

The amount spent in each category will depend on a number of factors such as:

  • the length of your holiday,
  • how far you are traveling from your home base,
  • the standard of accommodation you choose to stay in.

Sometimes airfares are the significant cost; sometimes it’s the accommodation. At the end of this article I’ve shown an example of a trip where significant savings were possible. This trip saved over one thousand dollars.

Reducing costs so your holidays are cheap means looking for savings in each of the categories outlined above as small adjustments mount up. Some ideas:

Airfares or travel costs

  • Investigate new airlines/cruise lines or starting new routes. Airlines and cruise lines, offer introductory deals to promote a new service. These offers can be incredibly cheap. Sometimes established competitors drop their prices too to protect their market share. I recently bought a fare from Sydney to Los Angeles (with the bonus of a stopover in Auckland) for $1,000 return (including taxes!). By taking advantage of an existing competitor trying to protect its market share over a new entrant I saved over $1300 on the normal regular promotional fare.
  • Travel outside peak times. Travel during shoulder seasons for cheaper holidays. Low season is even cheaper but the weather is not always traveler friendly Book early. Many airlines and cruise lines offer cheap holiday deals many months in advance. Be sure of your dates though as cancellation fees are prohibitive. Check the fare conditions too.
  • If you are after a holiday experience and are flexible, look at alternative destinations. Going to the Pacific Island of Vanuatu rather than Tahiti’s Bora Bora will give you a great cheap PacificIsland holiday – just a different one. Or, choosing to experience the ancient temples around Cambodia’s Angkor Wat rather than the pyramids of Egypt will give you a stunning alternative destination and very likely a much cheaper holiday.
  • Relocation deals - in many places rental car and motor home companies need to relocate their stock from one place to another. By taking advantage of these offers, for a few dollars a day you will have a very cheap holiday. The offers are usually available only a week or two in advance, so flexibility is the key to taking advantage of these amazingly cheap holiday deals.
  • If at all possible, take holidays outside school holidays.

More after the photos.....

Buy gifts from local markets - light shades in Luang Prabang
Buy gifts from local markets - light shades in Luang Prabang
Consider traveling to an alternative destination - Temples in Cambodia
Consider traveling to an alternative destination - Temples in Cambodia


  • Look at staying in “flashpacker” type accommodation. Being a step up from backpackers you can often obtain a very nice double or single room with ensuite at a significantly cheaper price than hotel accommodation. A good resource for checking out cheap accommodation alternatives is
  • Look for new hotels opening or those in the throes of, of having just completed, renovations. Sometimes the inconvenience is minor. Do check the work schedule to ensure jack hammers in the middle of the night won’t disrupt your precious holiday sleep!
  • Try to negotiate the price of your hotel/flashpacker room, especially if you plan to stay for several days.
  • Stay just outside the centre. Stay close enough so that you can walk and enjoy the sights, sounds and feel of the place as you stroll.
  • If you are taking your cheap holidays outside peak times, consider arriving without a room booking. That way you can look around, check the rooms available and negotiate a price to suit your budget.

Spending and incidentals

  • Shop around for travel insurance. If you are leaving your home country to travel internationally, travel insurance is an absolute must. Cheap holidays travel insurance deals can be found online. I do urge you to read the small print because the “devil is always in the detail”.
  • Day tours can be expensive but you can save money on them. One tip: If traveling as a couple, look for another couple at your destination and combine resources. It can be cheaper for the four of you to get a taxi, maintain flexibility, perhaps make new friends and save you money.
  • Limit the total number of stops on your holiday. Moving around increases the cost of the holiday in a way that staying in just one or two places won’t. Use one place as a hub and take day trips to see other tourist spots. You just need to be sure you don’t spend all day traveling, defeating the purpose. This will only work if the places you want to see are in relatively close proximity.
  • Buy souvenirs from the markets rather than the larger shops.
  • Walk more – this is a triple bonus as you see more, save money and lose weight.


  • Buy some food at a local market and enjoy a relaxed meal on the beach watching the sun go down. Take snacks and drinks when embarking on a long journey.
  • Look out for special meal deal options. Eating dinner in Australia on the bank of the YarraRiver in Melbourne I was able to enjoy a steak meal which included a lovely glass of red wine. In the Laos capital of Vientiane my regular breakfast was a special deal – large fruit salad, coffee, bread roll and cheese all for less than US$3. I ate the fruit and saved the bread roll and cheese for a snack later in the day.
  • Consider eating breakfast late and combining it with lunch.

An example of the ways to save money on your holiday:

In this example the original price of the holiday was $5040 but after making some adjustments, of $600 on airfares, $500 by electing to stay at cheaper accommodation, $40 on food and $200 on incidentals savings of $1340 are easily achievable whilst still retaining a degree of comfort.

If you are flexible in your approach, have a little time and willingness to research you can experience cheap holidays….or enjoy a second holiday on the savings!


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    • travelespresso profile image

      travelespresso 7 years ago from Somewhere in this exciting world.

      Glad you think those tips are useful. Thanks for stopping by ja.

    • jessica_alias profile image

      jessica_alias 7 years ago

      Hmm.. Nice tips here. Great post...

      Thanks for posting this piece!

    • travelespresso profile image

      travelespresso 7 years ago from Somewhere in this exciting world.

      Glad you liked my cost saving ideas Ianmac. Thanks for stopping by and for leaving a comment.

    • Ianmac profile image

      Ianmac 7 years ago from Gran Canaria

      Some great ideas here! I have couple of my own that can also help cut the cost of luxury holidays.

    • travelespresso profile image

      travelespresso 8 years ago from Somewhere in this exciting world.

      Thanks nextstopjupiter. I imagine that you do meet many interesting people. The other great thing about staying with locals is you learn more about the country and out of the way sights to visit.

    • nextstopjupiter profile image

      nextstopjupiter 8 years ago from here, there and everywhere

      The cheapest way to travel is by hitchhiking and couchsurfing. In Summer 2009 I made a nine week trip for about 300 US$. And it is interesting, you meet a lot of nice people you otherwise wouldn't have met, and you have a lot of fun.