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Cost of living: 10 top tips to save on staycations

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Staycations can be a cheaper alternative than going abroad amid the cost of living. Photo: Getty
Staycations can be a cheaper alternative than going abroad amid the cost of living. Photo: Getty

With the cost of living crisis making us all watch our spending, and the onslaught of flight delays, cancellations and long queues at airports and ferry ports, travelling could be the last thing on your mind.

To help combat costs and the travel chaos here are some top tips from consumer group Which? that can help save you money and enjoy staycations in the UK instead of travelling abroad.

1. Choose a more affordable destination

Choosing the right destination can have a big impact on holiday budgets and accommodation prices.

Staycations in the north of England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland tend to be cheaper, per person, per night, compared to the rest of England, Which? found.

For instance, a week-long mid-sized cottage break in Yorkshire in August is on average over £500 ($606) cheaper than a similar stay in Cornwall.

Guy Hobbs, editor of Which? Travel, said: "After the ferry port and airport chaos of recent weeks — and the hot weather — it’s no surprise that many of us are looking for a holiday in the UK this summer.

"Although the cost of living is adding pressure to household budgets, there’s no need to pay over the odds for your staycation."

Staycations in the north of England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland tend to be cheaper, per person, per night, compared to the rest of England. Photo: Getty
Staycations in the north of England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland tend to be cheaper, per person, per night, compared to the rest of England. Photo: Getty

2. Find a cheap stay three miles down the road

According to Which? holidaymakers can save more than £400 ($485) on a one-week UK holiday by swapping a well-known location for a similar destination, just a few miles away.

After comparing average hotel room rates in 10 popular towns, cities and seaside resorts with accommodation costs at similar but less well-known destinations nearby.

It discovered travellers could save between £24 and £59 per room, per night, comparing the likes of Dartmouth with Salcombe, and Tenby with Saundersfoot.

3. Shop around for the best value hotel room rate

If you plan to book hotel accommodation, Which? suggests shopping around for the best prices.

It is worth browsing online comparison sites for longer stays in hotels, as the cumulative savings can be substantial.

A 2021 Which? investigation found Trivago (TRVG) to have the best prices most consistently, but Kayak, Skyscanner, TravelSupermarket and TripAdvisor (TRIP) also performed well.

Watch: How to save money on a low income

4. Try booking directly with the hotel

Another way of securing a cheaper room is by booking it directly through the hotel you want to stay at.

Which? found that you can often get even better rates or perks, such as free breakfasts or champagne on arrival, by booking directly.

Although using comparison sites to check prices and locations is a good place to start, don’t be afraid to contact the hotel or B&B directly for a good deal.

5. Sign up to loyalty schemes

While it won’t provide instant savings, it could be worth signing up to free loyalty schemes with hotel chains and booking websites to save money when booking trips away.

Read more: Cost of living: Top tips to save money on a UK staycation

Some supermarket reward schemes like Tesco Clubcard (TSCO.L) and Nectar often have partnerships with attractions and accommodation, so it’s worth looking into saving up some points and allowing your weekly shop to give you a nice treat.

Which? says Tesco Clubcard points are worth triple the value when used with a Tesco Rewards Partner, such as Best Western, Hotels.com and Warner Leisure Hotels. That means 50p converts to £1.50.

British Grand Prix 2022 at Silverstone on 3 July 2022 in Northampton. Avoid booking a hotel room if there are any big sporting events, festivals, or gigs taking place in the area when you’re planning to visit. Photo: Jose Hernandez/Anadolu Agency via Getty
British Grand Prix 2022 at Silverstone on 3 July 2022 in Northampton. Avoid booking a hotel room if there are any big sporting events, festivals, or gigs taking place in the area when you’re planning to visit. Photo: Jose Hernandez/Anadolu Agency via Getty

6. Avoid events when booking accommodation

Before you book a place to stay, its worth checking out if any big sporting events, festivals, or gigs are taking place in the area when you’re planning to visit, as higher demand could push up the price.

Unless you’re planning to attend a specific event, Which? says you can save by choosing a different week.

Bedrooms in Cheltenham during the Gold Cup horse race meeting can cost almost six times more than the week after the event.

Similarly, a B&B in Milton Keynes could be over 60% cheaper if you arrived the week after the nearby Silverstone Grand Prix.

7. Book your car hire through a broker

If you hire a car to travel in the UK, Which? research found that, on average, customers get a better price booking with a broker than going direct, with the best brokers throwing in free extras.

Zest Car Rental offers excess reimbursement insurance and, often, a second driver free of charge.

Holidaymakers can save £65 on a week’s car hire in Glasgow by booking with a broker. Zest quoted £203 with Dollar, which included an additional driver, while booking directly through the rental company Dollar cost £268.

On average, holiday cottages for a week’s getaway in August were 11% cheaper if booked in late July rather than three months earlier. Photo: Getty
On average, holiday cottages for a week’s getaway in August were 11% cheaper if booked in late July rather than three months earlier. Photo: Getty

8. Share a cottage with another household

Holidaymakers can save on holiday cottages by staying with friends or family and splitting the cost.

Accommodation with room for four or more people often works out cheaper per adult than a similar option for two.

Which? looked on Airbnb’s (ABNB) website and found a one-bedroom apartment in St Florence, near Tenby, costing £573 for a week in September.

A cottage in the same village sleeping six plus room for two children, with the same rating, cost £584. That works out at £292 per household, saving £281.

9. Check for last-minute holiday cottages

Since the pandemic, more people have been travelling abroad after lockdowns. According to Which? this has seen prices for holiday cottages in England come down in 2022.

On average, holiday cottages for a week’s getaway in August were 11% cheaper if booked in late July rather than three months earlier.

Read more: Cost of living crisis: 12 top tips to save money during the summer holiday

Which? has been tracking the prices and availability of one-, two- and three-bed holiday cottages in England listed on the three biggest providers, for a one-week peak-season stay, since April.

10. Visiting a holiday park? Choose one that offers good value for money

Taking advantage of the UK’s best holiday parks means you don't need to go for the most expensive options to have a great experience.

A recent Which? survey showed resorts such as Center Parcs and Pontins, which have faced criticism over their value for money, were beaten by family-run resorts that cost less and scored highly in most categories.

Some of these included John Fowler Holiday Parks, Potters Resorts and Waterside Holiday Group.

Watch: Airline refunds: What are your rights as a consumer?

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