Holiday planning

8 ways to travel more on a small budget

Photo of Chelsea DickensonPhoto of Chelsea Dickenson
By Chelsea Dickenson

22 December 2023 | Updated 22 December 20236 min read

A city skyline view of Vienna, Austria

Want to travel more in 2024? Whether you’re planning to pack the year with more adventures or just want a chance to rejuvenate by the sea, here’s how to get away more often without having to spend a fortune.

1. Embrace being flexible

Flexibility is the most important factor when it comes to travelling for less. Whether it’s what day you fly, what time you leave, what airline you choose or even what destination you travel to, having fewer ‘must haves’ will really help get the price down.

Price too high for your set dates or destination? Instead of wondering where you could find the deal cheaper (sadly, there’s no magic tricks in many of these situations!), ask yourself ‘what could I change to make this cheaper?’. That’s where you’ll open up more options.

2. Set a budget

Now you’re in the right mindset, it’s good to work out how much money you have to spend on travel for the year ahead. It’s one thing to budget for your transport and accommodation, but don’t forget about your daily costs as well.

And while it can be tempting to stick a trip on a credit card, nothing will beat the feeling of getting away on holiday and knowing it’s already paid for – and that you’ve got money to spend when you get there.

Also, planning ahead gives you time to save up if you’re a little short on cash. Perhaps you can cut back on other expenses, or even make some extra money by selling your unused personal items. I recently made £90 selling some clothes I’d had sitting in a bag for two years!

3. Prepare to be spontaneous

Cheap deals can come out of the blue and disappear in moments, so you want to be ready to pounce.

It’s not just a money thing, either. If you’re not travelling solo, it’s important your holiday buddies are on the same page too. You don’t want to miss out on a bargain while waiting for your partner or friends to get their annual leave approved.

So, pencil in some annual leave dates and make sure you know the details of whoever you want to travel with – and that includes their passport details, too.

4. Explore your backyard

Before we start getting too adventurous, don’t forget that you don’t have to travel far or expensively for a holiday. This is particularly the case if you’ve decided to embark on your first solo trip; that first holiday alone can be quite nerve wracking!

So, why not take the pressure off and head somewhere in the UK to give it a go? Become your own best friend on an overnight theatre break, solo train journey to the seaside or mini UK road trip – in some cases, you can pick up a hire car from as little as £6.83 per day. 

5. Travel off peak

The general rule is that you’ll find the cheapest prices for a destination when there are fewer people wanting to visit. It’s all about demand!

That makes January an amazing time travel and it’s not just the price that’s a perk – you’ll often find your destination much less crowded, too.

I’m a total sucker for a January city break as it’s the perfect time to book into a luxury hotel at a fraction of their peak summer prices.

6. Do a multi-city break

A super simple way to explore more destinations is to super serve the holidays that you do book. So, if you find cheap flights to Milan, for example, why not extend your stay by a couple of days and pop over to nearby Turin, too? You can often find train tickets for just €10 – much cheaper than most flights to the city.

Also look out for destinations that are close to each other. Vienna and Bratislava are great to do as a double city break, for instance.

And, thanks to an ever-expanding sleeper train network across Europe, you may be surprised at where you can get to by public transport. One of my favourite sleeper trips started off in Stockholm and saw me wake up in Hamburg!

7. Be savvy with your annual leave

If time is an issue, you can get more days off for a longer holiday by being smart with your annual leave.

In 2024, for example, you can get 50 days off with just 23 days of annual leave by using the bank holidays to your advantage.

8. Challenge yourself

My career in travel began with a New Year’s Resolution of wanting to travel more. I’d saved but still didn’t have a huge budget, so I decided to set myself a challenge: to see how many holidays I could do for half the price the average Brit spent on holidays in a year, which was £1,709 at the time.

The rules? I could only use my 28 days of annual leave, I had to visit 3 continents and I had to fly business class at least once.

It turned into an amazing year of travel where I managed to do ten trips to destinations including Benidorm, Dubai, New York and Miami. It really forced me to think outside the box, such as taking on a two-week pet sitting stint in Paris and even using a house-swapping website.

If that sounds like your cup of tea, here are some ideas to get you started:

  • A year of £100 holidays: It might come as a surprise, but you can still find city break package deals for £100 or less – especially if you can travel midweek. Keep an eye out on TravelSupermarket’s top travel deals page for inspiration.
  • Let a ball decide your next trip: Can’t decide where to go? Put all your destinations, budget limits and holiday must-haves together and let fate decide the rest! I let a ball decide for me, then used the results to find a holiday on TravelSupermarket.
  • Three places minimum: This one's great if you’re keen to be kinder to the environment as well as your wallet. Chain what could be multiple trips into one by skipping the flights and visiting a set number of places via public transport – it works especially well in Europe and the UK.

Good luck with your 2024 travels!

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