With the lockdown lifted, there is still a lot of uncertainty about international holidays. With vaccination certificates, Covid testing costs, and ever-changing guidelines, what was once an opportunity to relax has become the complete opposite. This makes staying in the UK a great way to have a cheap vacation without having to adhere to quarantine rules.
While in the UK we may not have guaranteed sunshine during the summer months like most of our European counterparts, we have an abundance of historic cities and beautiful scenery. From weekend stays at B & B’s in the city to taking a break from the hustle and bustle and exploring the countryside, there are plenty of ways to keep costs down and have a cheap vacation in the UK.
We’re vacationing at home this summer, injecting money back into our economy by spending at home, which will help us in our slow recovery from coronavirus.
Get out of the hotel
The UK offers plenty of free activities, from country walks and hikes in the highlands to relaxing weekends on the beaches. Britain has 15 beautiful national parks to explore and over 7,000 miles of coastline to see, making exploring the country’s landscapes a perfect vacation spot.
To fully immerse yourself in the scenery, camping is the perfect way to keep things cheap and have a real authentic experience.
Taking a vacation under canvas is the easiest way to save a bit of money on vacation, but it can also become part of the adventure and magic of travel. It’s a perfect getaway whether you’re planning a quiet weekend getaway on your own, a group getaway, a family adventure, or a romantic getaway for couples. Many campsites also allow dogs so you can take your pooches with you – which is also a great way to save kennel costs!
The pitch prices vary depending on the location and time of year, but can only cost £ 5 per night per person. If you are camping during the high season, choose a campsite a little further away from the area’s main attractions for even better prices.
Wild camping is legal in Scotland. This means that you don’t have to camp in a fixed place, but can pitch in any suitable area. This is not possible on private property without the owner’s permission – but with so many forests and national parks, there is no shortage of places to camp in the wild. It’s a great way to immerse yourself in nature – and it saves you money on pitch fees too!
Wild camping is not legal in England, Wales or Northern Ireland. In some areas, such as the Lake District and Dartmoor, a “blind eye” policy applies if you follow the basic rules of arriving late, leaving early, leaving everything as you found it and no more than one night in the same location stay). . Countryfile has a useful list of wilderness campsites to try across the UK.
If you know of any other place you’d like to go wild camping, find out who the landowner is and ask for permission to camp there. Don’t just rock and hang up: ask beforehand and get to know the landowner so he can see that you are trustworthy and leave everything as you found it.
Glamping is another option. It’s still pretty cheap, but with a little more luxury for those who aren’t quite at home under wet canvas. With glamping, you have better facilities like a private hot shower and fully functional kitchen.
PitchUp is a great website dedicated to finding cheap camping and caravan parks, and also showing users the nearest walking routes, bike rentals, activities and pubs! Camping is another simple website that you can use to search for cheap camping sites for pitches, tours, and glamping. All in all, camping is hard to beat when it comes to keeping things cheap.
Alternatives to camping
Finding alternative accommodation is one of the easiest ways to save on vacation. Hotels are notoriously expensive and really not worth the money when there are plenty of other options. Even if you’re looking to take a city break, there are plenty of options such as nearby trailer parks, city inns, and other options that will keep you away from expensive hotels.
Like campsites, static caravan sites offer affordable vacation rentals for couples and families. This option costs a little more, starting at around £ 20 a night, depending on the number of people the caravan sleeps and the facilities it offers.
You can rent a caravan site for yourself or rent a caravan for a week or a weekend for around £ 30 per night (depending on size and location).
Guest houses and guest houses
Farm stays, B & Bs and guest houses are other alternatives. Still cheaper than hotels, you have your own space and facilities, and a little more comfort than in a tent! It’s also a great way to explore new places without risking the questionable British weather. The options are also great if you’d rather explore cities than the country.
Try Air BnB, local Facebook groups and FarmStay for alternatives to camping – both in the countryside and for city breaks.
Exchange your home anytime to save TONS of money! Usually this is done internationally – but you can do it in the UK too. This of course assumes that your home is completely cleaned and safe for all visitors as we don’t know how long this pandemic will last. However, home swapping is a great way to save lots of money and discover new places. Read our full article on home swapping here.
Save money while traveling
If possible, avoid unnecessary travel expenses. For example, if you drive to your destination, refuel your car before driving, as the fuel is cheaper there than at petrol stations along the motorway.
If you’re traveling for long periods of time, pack a picnic and snacks for the family, as station and service cafes and stores tend to have extortionate surcharges on their products and you end up paying a lot more than you should.
Inquire about other travel options that may be cheaper. If you are traveling without children or have light luggage, public transport is a good alternative. It can be as convenient as driving a car, but it can turn out to be cheaper. Omio is a useful site for planning a route using public transport and comparing costs over time. If you are traveling by public transport, booking early, traveling off-peak, and investing in a train or bus card can make your trip cheaper.
Peak times mean top prices
If you avoid the school summer holidays and bank holiday weekends as much as possible, you will save yourself the price increases at these times of the year. However, if you are a family with children this is much harder to avoid. Vacation prices often drop by 10 to 15% from the last week of August to the beginning of September, so you can get better deals with the right timing of your vacation. Also, remember to spend your family vacation during the Easter break instead. In general, the UK has nice sunny weather around this time and prices are also getting cheaper.
Before you travel, do some research and see if there are any major events happening while you hope to be there. Things like soccer games, big concerts, or racing days will unfortunately drive up prices for accommodation in the area and you could end up paying a lot more.
Try something different
Cities like London, Oxford and Bath are all very popular tourist destinations but are more expensive than some other UK cities. Northern England and Scotland have some amazing places worth visiting that are great city breaks but without the high price tag. Liverpool has proven to be the UK’s cheapest city break! Other great options are Manchester, Newcastle, Sheffield, and Aberdeen.
More tips to save money
If you are on a very tight budget but really need to get away this summer (and let’s face it, we all need vacations after the last few months!) Try these tips to save more money.
- Why don’t you rent out your house during your vacation? You can easily sign up for AirBnB to host your home and receive extra cash while you are away.
- Camping for the first time? If you can, borrow camping gear from a friend or family before spending hundreds on things you may not use very often. However, if you do need to buy, do your off-season shopping for much better deals.
- Benefit from offers and cashback. Sites like lastminute.com usually have some really good deals available, so it is worth signing up to see what you can get. Another idea is to use cashback sites like Quidco when booking your vacation as you can get up to 13% back.
- Take advantage of age-related discounts. You will need to have your ID with you, but if you are under 18, a student or over 60 you can benefit from discounted entrance fees and tickets.
More useful reading
Do you feel inspired? Check out these articles for more ways to have a cheap vacation!