How to save money on your staycation

Staycationing can help you stay Covid-safe and support UK tourism, so here’s how to do it on a budget

Felicity Hannah
Tuesday 21 July 2020 13:42 BST
You’ll be a much happier camper if you set aside a budget for your UK trip
You’ll be a much happier camper if you set aside a budget for your UK trip

We’re all staying on a summer holiday. Well, lots of us are. After three long months of lockdown, the government finally said we could travel again, both within and outside the UK.

And although we now have access to overseas breaks, many of us seem to prefer the idea of a holiday closer to home while the world is still dealing with the upheaval of coronavirus.

Research from the hospitality jobs board shows that 58 per cent of people say they have saved money during lockdown and 36 per cent plan to put some of this towards holidaying at home. The average UK household is set to spend £960.

It’s easy to focus on saving money with a trip abroad, thanks to holiday comparison sites and money exchange rates. But there are plenty of ways to save money on a UK break too.

So if you’re planning a trip to the seaside, a day at a theme park or a driving tour of the Scottish Highlands, here are some of the ways you can keep the cost down.

Make a budget

When you’re planning a holiday abroad you will usually set a budget and book flights and hotels, or a package that falls within that amount.

But when you set off on a UK break it can feel more natural not to set a budget and just to spend as you go. This means you have no control over your spending and it risks spiralling past what you intended.

Set a budget and maybe a daily spending limit and then you will know how much you have for treats and won’t come home to a cleaned-out bank account.

Do more off-peak

After all these months stuck at home, you probably want to get away as soon as you can. However, the difference between peak prices and off-peak can be considerable.

If you can bring yourself to wait until September (and if it’s an option, sorry parents!) when the kids are back at school then there could be a lot more choice and at lower prices.

People who can’t travel outside the school breaks should look at mid-week travel rather than at weekends. Also, if your destination is quieter then that will make it easier to distance.

You may also be able to get more discounts and cheaper entries to attractions if you can avoid the busier weekends.

Save money on travel

Quite often, particularly if there are several of you, the cheapest way to travel is by car, especially if you already have a suitable vehicle.

But if you decide to travel by bus or train then it’s worth looking for ways to bring down the cost of your tickets. You could save a third on off-peak rail fares with a family and friends railcard. It costs £30 a year but for many longer journeys it pays for itself in that first trip.

One additional tip. If you have a child who is too young to need a ticket, it may be worth investing in the family and friends railcard anyway. Even with the unnecessary cost of buying a baby a ticket, you can often save significantly more.

If you’re a couple, the two together railcard can save you a third off rail fares when you travel with an agreed partner or friend.

Money off days out

Every year there are discounts available to people who simply plan a little further in advance, and yet every year some people will queue up and pay full price – sometimes twice as much as the person behind them who has a voucher.

There are lots of different discounts available, and a quick web search will show you if anything is available for your planned destination.

For example, there are free tickets to Merlin attractions on some Cadbury packets. Just remember you are likely to need to book in advance, given the restrictions all parks are operating under.

And some Kellogg’s cereal boxes have grown-ups go free vouchers for many major UK sites, such as The London Eye and Legoland Windsor.

If you have a railcard then you can benefit from discounts to certain attractions, visit the railcard’s web page to learn more.

Lots of different transport companies include discounts so it’s worth searching for the area you’re travelling in before you set out. For example, if you travel using National Express West Midlands and Coventry, you can get a variety of discounts, including 40 per cent off Legoland Discovery Centre Birmingham and two-for-one admission to the National Sea Life Centre Birmingham.

Be smart about where you stay

With lockdown easing and the school holidays here for most of us, a lot of holiday accommodation has been booked.

But there are still bargains to be had, especially if you want to explore somewhere new but aren’t particularly fixed on a certain town or location.

One alternative to a holiday home would be to suggest a house swap with a friend who lives elsewhere in the UK, meaning you can both explore somewhere new without spending a fortune on accommodation (just make sure you’re clear about cleaning beforehand so you can be confident you’re Covid-safe).

Don’t forget insurance

Despite hundreds of thousands of travellers facing disruptions from cancelled travel plans as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, less than half of us take out travel insurance if we’re staying in the UK.

But travellers without the right cover could be at risk of losing money in the event of delayed or cancelled transport or accommodation, baggage loss, loss of cash, or any damage to personal possessions out of the home.

“When planning a getaway in the UK, it’s easy to overlook the need for travel insurance – over half of those we’ve spoken to don’t get insurance,” warns Helen Chambers, head of travel at

“As the UK continues to navigate the coronavirus pandemic, it’s important to have adequate policy coverage for any trip to make sure you are protected should government guidance change.

“Some policies may not cover changes to circumstances, so you should always check with your provider at the time of booking. This will give you the freedom to plan ahead and enjoy your trip without worry.”

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