How to save money on weekend breaks
If you’re looking to save money on weekend breaks then you’re in the right place because I have lots of great tips and travel hacks to share! Weekend breaks are on the rise and more people than ever before are ditching the traditional 2-week holiday in favour of lots of shorter holidays throughout the year. But weekend breaks can be expensive so keep reading to find out how to cut the costs and enjoy more weekenders!
Weekend breaks are the best. If you book a few weekend breaks throughout the year then you constantly have something fun and exciting to look forward to.
When I had a ‘normal job’ with annual leave, I didn’t take one big holiday a year as I preferred to spread my leave throughout the year and have lots of weekenders. If you have 28 days for annual leave, that could be 28 long weekend breaks!
The only problem with weekend breaks is the cost can quickly mount up and a 3-day weekender can end up costing almost as much as a 1 week all-inclusive package holiday. How does that even happen? I’ve got to admit, package holidays can be great value and it’s often the flights that cost the most so it’s often better value to go away for longer, but there are ways to cut the costs of weekend breaks.
I have some tips up my sleeve to help you save money on weekend breaks and have those much needed mini breaks on a budget.
Book in advance
I often think of weekend breaks as being spontaneous trips away but if you book in advance you’ll usually get a much better deal, especially with flights. Sometimes it really does pay to be organised!
I love organising my weekend breaks in advance because I enjoy the booking, planning and organising part of the holiday just as much as the holiday itself! It also means you could book the flights one month and the hotel the next month and some activities the following month so you have more time to pay for things and it doesn’t feel like such a huge chunk of money in one go!
I recommend booking as far in advance as you possibly can for the best deals, especially on flights.
Travel Hack Tip: I always use Skyscanner to find the best flight deals as it’s so simple and user friendly and you see all your options in one place.
Or at the very last minute
Alternatively, if you book at the very last minute you can also get a bargain, particularly if you’re staying in a private holiday let in the UK. If possible, contact the owner of the property directly and ask if they’re able to give a discount. It sounds cheeky but it’s often better for the owner to have someone stay at a discounted rate than to have the property empty for days.
You may remember that last year we took a spontaneous weekend break to Aberdaron and we got this property at a bargain price because we booked it just a few days before.
Travel Hack Tip: This usually only applies when you’re staying in the UK as flights are rarely cheaper when booked last minute.
Don’t forget about the travel logistics
Don’t forget about the travel logistics like getting to the airport. That 6am flight from Stansted might seem cheap, but when you realise you can’t get to the airport at 4am and would have to take a taxi or stay in an airport hotel, you realise the costs are mounting up already. Flights at sociable hours can be more expensive but they can still work out cheaper than an airport hotel.
If you own a car, I usually find that driving to the airport is the cheapest option if you use a budget parking provider such as Purple Parking.
Use deal sites and packages to save money on weekend breaks
I’m all about independent travel but booking through a package holiday deal site can often be SO cheap and very convenient. If you’re subscribed to my newsletter you’ll know I love TravelZoo because I often include a great find from the site.
You’ll often get all-inclusive holidays with transfers included for a fraction of what you’d spend yourself. OK, sometimes the hotels look a little ropey and you wouldn’t want to eat every meal there but if you hire a car you’ll be free to explore.
Move your weekend to midweek
If you’re lucky enough to have a flexible working environment, why not move your weekend break from Friday-Sunday to Sunday-Tuesday? Most destinations will be much quieter, making everything cheaper. Flights will be your biggest saving but hotels, restaurants, shows and other activities will also have big discounts for midweek guests.
Controversially, I love working weekends so I’m happy to travel midweek and spend the weekend in my office. I get much more productive when I work at the weekend because most people aren’t online and I’m not distracted by constant emails and social media notifications.
Choose business hotels at the weekend
If you do travel Friday-Sunday, choose a hotel that would usually be considered a business hotel. They’re usually located in the business district and often include big chain hotels like Hilton and Marriott.
These hotels are usually really nice. OK, they don’t have a lot of character and the décor can be a little bland and the rooms a little small but they often have great locations, friendly staff and discounted prices at the weekend when there are fewer business travellers in town.
I’m a huge fan of Airbnb and I’ve managed to stay in some gorgeous places. If you’re on a budget, you could rent just one room in someone’s house but I always rent a whole apartment. It’s not always a lot cheaper than a hotel but the convenience of having more space and a kitchen is worth it – especially when you can save money by preparing some of your own meals.
If you’re new to Airbnb you can get £25 credit using this link.
Check out city passes
If you plan to do a lot of sight-seeing then check out your destination’s city pass. Most cities have them where you’ll buy a pass that gives you access to all the top attractions and often public transport too. Some of them even have discounts for restaurants and bars.
Travel Hack Tip: Note that city passes are only good value if you plan to do A LOT. If you’re just going to visit 2-3 attractions then they’re not normally worth it and it’s better to pay for everything individually.
Do a free walking tour
If you just want to get a brief overview of your destination then consider taking a free walking tour. They’re run by passionate locals and they’ll take you to the main attractions in a city and give you some information about the history as well as places to eat and drink. It’s a great opportunity to get some local knowledge and get restaurant recommendations. You are expected to give your guide a tip but it’s still a budget way to see somewhere new.
Travel with just hand luggage
I’m always amazed by how much I can get in my hand luggage and if you’re going away for 2-3 days you really don’t need to pay £40 to check in a big suitcase. Even when we’re travelling with both our boys, Sam and I never take checked luggage and we make do with 3 cabin sized suitcases between us (Joseph doesn’t get a cabin bag until he’s two because we don’t pay for his seat).
I designed the awesome Travel Hack Cabin Case with Cabin Max and it’s huge! There’s a version 2 coming out soon with better zips so look out for that. A lot of the reviews of this case said it would be perfect if it had stronger zips so I’m very excited for V2!
Use public transport
There’s usually a really cheap, easy and reliable way of getting from the airport to the city centre – it just isn’t always totally obvious. I find that TripAdvisor is a good place to go for up to date information about airport transfers and prices and Google Maps is best for city centre public transport options.
If you’re going to a budget airport outside of the city centre, there’s usually a shuttle bus into the city and they’re always really cheap.
The only time I don’t use public transport is when we’re in the UK. I’d love to recommend taking public transport in the UK but it’s almost always cheaper and easier to drive. Trains are very expensive and often unreliable (especially at the weekend) so I’d always drive and if you’re visiting I’d even recommend hiring a car.
Did you know that glamping holidays can be so cheap!? Glamping is a lot of fun and is a budget way to stay somewhere unique and memorable. They’re often pretty luxurious too so you don’t need to cut back on all the little luxuries. Check out this post about 10 unique glamping places in North Wales.
There you have it. My top tips for saving money on weekend breaks. Do you have any more tips to add to the list?