How to save for a holiday

…even on a tight budget

To me holidays are one of the most important thing I do with my child, it gives us time together, I feel more relaxed and we get to se the big wide world.

However they can also be a tough expense, especially as a single parent. When my son was little, before I went back to work full time, money was tight and I had to really save up and budget for holidays. Now I’m lucky that I earn a good wage, however I receive zero financial support from my ex and running a house, car and life in general keeps getting more and more expensive so I still can’t afford to drop indiscriminate amounts of money whenever we fancy a holiday (especially as we fancy them a lot!).

So I have several tips and tricks of ways I have saved up to afford our adventures around the globe.  

1. Realise holidays don’t have to cost the world

I think the idea of a cost of a holiday can be the scariest part and make the idea of even starting to save pointless but by shopping around, being flexible in dates and destination you can get some amazing deals. I regularly pay under £200 for flights, accommodation, transfers and activities for our weekend European city breaks (check out my FlyAwayFriday ideas HERE) and even went away during the school holidays to Croatia all inclusive for under £750 for both of us for a week. Now I know that’s not pocket change but it’s still a lot less than I thought I would have to pay. And it’s not all about heading off abroad, staycations are amazing and can be really well priced.

2. Set up a holiday bank account

This is my most effective way of saving as if money stays in my main account it just gets absorbed into the daily expenses and then I either think I’m minted or panic about spending any cash. I personally use a few different accounts for saving but have set up a Monzo account specifically for travelling and all money I save up for our holidays goes into it. As they don’t charge for using your card abroad and give great exchange rates it means I don’t have to swop any money over prior to travelling, it helps me budget and keeps it all very separate from the bills and regular savings.

3. Set up a direct debit

Take a look at your finances and work out how much you can comfortably put into your holiday account. Whether that’s a fiver a month or fifty pound it does all add up and I find that by clearing that money straight after payday I didn’t used to notice it so much, it just meant at the end of the month I wouldn’t be thinking oooh there’s money in my account, I can afford to splash the cash on some random crap. Alternatively if you do find yourself with some extra pennies left over before payday and you can afford it, transfer them over to your holiday account and watch it build.

If you’re used to living within your means and are surviving financially and are lucky enough to get a pay rise this is a perfect time to divert some cash. When I changed jobs, I worked out how much extra I would get after tax a month and set up a direct debit for that amount directly into a savings account.

3. Cancel those direct debits

Now this one may just be me but I used to be terrible at keeping an eye on my bank account so while we’re on the subject of banks, check out your direct debits. I once discovered I’d been paying for a gym I didn’t use anymore for 6 months. If you spot anything like this, and were doing ok financially with it coming out (i.e it isn’t make you struggle and you’re not desperate for that extra bit of cash in your day to day budget) cancel it and set up the same amount to go into your holiday savings account.

Same goes for any other direct debits. I have monthly beauty subscriptions, 3 different tv/entertainment subscriptions, the list goes on and it’s things I don’t really need so a great way to save some cash is to cancel those you can do without and divert the same figure into your savings account. If you’ve been paying it out anyway without issue it won’t affect your financial situation but will be a little bit more in the holiday pot.

This can also be applied to any other areas you find savings, if you switch your gas or mobile phone provider for example. If you could afford to pay it before and it wasn’t hurting your financial situation, send the difference you’re now saving straight to your savings.

This was actually kind of how I paid for us to go to New Zealand! I was getting emergency taxed and because I realised I could afford to live without the difference in monthly pay I deliberately didn’t get the tax code fixed for a year and then just got the lump sum back from the tax man and booked my flights!

4. Give it up

On the same idea, if there’s something you do regularly and can give it up, then work out how much you’ve been spending on a weekly or monthly basis and set up a direct debit to the holiday account. If you’re going to the shop daily to buy a meal deal, try making your lunch at home for half the price and then send over that extra £2 a day or whatever it is. Or forego your daily expensive caffeine fix, bottled water habit or weekly takeway treat, just make sure you actually do divert it straight away or if you’re like me it will just get swallowed up by day to day life and if I’m going to eat sandwiches rather than sushi, there had better be cocktails on a beach somewhere to make up for it!

5. Ask for the cash

If you have family or friends who buy you or your children Christmas or birthday presents, ask for money instead. My Mum now also automatically transfers my gift money straight into my holiday account and it can make a big difference to saving up. If it’s someone you don’t feel comfortable asking for cash from (my Mum is probably the only person I would ask) you could try asking for vouchers, or an experience while you’re on your holidays like a trip to a zoo. Or even some clothes or things you will need for your adventures, allowing you to put the money you would have spent towards the actual trip. It’s now something I do with my son too, he has so many toys that our house is packed to the rafters so I spend the money on taking him away somewhere or doing something rather than buying more stuff.

6. Flog it

If your house is packed with stuff too, get that on ebay or marketplace and make some holiday money from it. I’m really poor at this but determined to get better so I’ve now set up my holiday bank account on my paypal so when I very occasionally get around to ebaying our old things, the cash goes straight into the fund.

7. Use Topcashback

This has to be one of my very top tips for saving up for holidays, especially after last year when it totally covered Luka’s half of our summer holiday to Croatia, free money for the win! Sign up HERE and just make sure you go via the site every time you shop online, buy insurance, take out a new phone contract etc. Yes sometimes it’s 20p you earn but they all add up and doing the bigger things like getting a new (or renewing a) tv contract can earn you hundreds, all for doing what you were going to do anyway.

I’m not a big shopper and don’t spend a lot online but even so in 18 months earned almost £500 (I repeat for FREE!). I have friends that do online shop, as well as switch their utilities yearly and things like that and they have made literally thousands within 12 months, think of the holiday you could get for that!

8. Divert any discounts

Planning on a day out, and have planned for it within your budget? Try hunting online for a discount code or use 2-4-1 vouchers (like those ones for buy one get one free into Alton Towers on the side of hand wash). Then work out the difference and put that in your holiday account, if you were going to spend it anyway it’s not affecting your daily budget but it’s a few more pennies in the pot!

BONUS – 9. Use those loyalty points

I often find that the preparing to go on a break can be as costly as the holiday itself. When I took Luka away on our first beach break neither one of us had up to date beach wear, mini bottles of shampoo etc etc so I spent hundreds of pounds on that before we’d even set foot in the airport. Now I tend to save up my loyalty points at places like Boots and use them to prepare for the trip. It means you can avoid an extra often unexpected expense or if you planned for it, you will have a little extra in the holiday pot.

I hope these tips have given you some ideas on how even on a tight budget you can save up to take that trip whether it’s a weekend camping in Cornwall or a Caribbean cruise you have your heart set on!

How do you save for your holidays? Let me know in the comments.

You may also like...