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11 tips for planning a holiday on a budget

Finance & Money

Posted on Friday, September 22, 2017

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Sipping a pina colada with your toes buried in warm white sand while the children play on the beach might seem like something other people get to do. People with perfect Instagram feeds, for example.

But finding ways to holiday on a budget isn’t as difficult as it may seem. All it requires is some careful planning and a willingness to think outside the money box.

Here are 11 money-saving tips to help plan your own Instagram-worthy, low-budget holiday:


1. Sign up to newsletters for cheap holiday deals

Those once-annoying mailers and e-newsletters suddenly become a lifeline when you’re planning a low-cost holiday. Keep an eye on daily flight deals and cheap holiday packages. 

Many are sent months in advance, which means you can pay for the flight and then save up for the holiday. If you don’t want your inbox to become flooded, set up a new email address just for budget travel deals and ideas.

2. Download travel apps

There are a number of flight comparison apps that will send you push notifications when the cost of the flight you’re looking at drops. Hopper keeps an eye on flights and will let you know whether they’re cheaper as well as when to book the best deal. Other good resources include Flapp, Cheapflights and Expedia.

3. Draw up a holiday budget

Using the same template as your simple household budget, create a holiday budget planner. Work out how much money you have available to spend on your holiday overall. Include accommodation, travel costs, food and fun money. Once you have an idea of how much you need, you can plan your budget holiday more accurately.

4. Travel off-season

If you are truly looking for budget holidays, consider travelling off-season. Prices for flights, package holidays and accommodation drop dramatically during these times. It might not be as warm, but it’ll be less crowded and you’ll be able to stay longer for less.

5. Do your research

An all-inclusive package is nice, but it can be way more frugal to plan your own itinerary by researching your destination in advance. Read reviews and check what other people advise within the area. You can also invest in a good guidebook to help plan your exploring, or visit Wikitravel.

6. Invite friends for a more affordable vacation

If you have friends you’d like to holiday with, why not agree to rent a house together? This is a great way to enjoy reduced accommodation costs and is especially effective if your friends have kids that are similar ages to your own. You can take turns having a night out and share the childcare responsibilities – bonus!

7. Self-cater

For a true holiday on a budget, plan to do all your own catering. Accommodation with a small kitchenette area will mean cereal and sandwiches are easy to access and you can still eat out on occasion.

8. Investigate the house swap option

If you have the means, consider a house swap for a guaranteed cheap holiday option. It takes a leap of faith, but if you are cash-strapped and live in a desirable location, it’s a viable money-saving option. Visit House Swap South Africa for some local options and ideas on how to get started.

9.  Create a packing checklist

A detailed packing checklist can be a money-saver, especially if you're going on a foreign holiday. Write a list of all the essential items you need and check up on vaccinations and visa requirements. A weather check in advance will ensure you don’t have to emergency shop for jerseys as soon as you arrive.

10. Weigh and measure your luggage

Nothing is more frustrating than having to pay unnecessary money when you're holidaying on a budget. Be absolutely sure your hand luggage and suitcases are under the airline's size and weight restrictions before you leave for the airport.

11. Getting around at your destination

Plan your sightseeing geographically so you can save on travel costs. In many tourist cities bus, train and taxi fares are expensive. Walk where possible or get a travel pass. If you carry a student card, or if you're retired, you can request discounts for travel passes. Different cities have different systems, so be sure to investigate the local options before you arrive.

The information contained in this document is for informational purposes only and does not constitute professional advice.