Holidays are about unwinding, relaxing and leaving your cares at home. And you'll enjoy your vacation even more with the added glow of knowing you’ve spent your cash wisely. Here are some money saving tips:

Staycations

Beat the economic blues by taking a holiday in the UK. The UK has more variety in scenery, attractions and food than almost any other comparably sized country, although the unpredictable weather and high costs can be a turn-off.

Remember you still need travel insurance if you’re going on a trip in the UK. Pre-booked and pre-paid trips, even just one day trips, can be covered by a Single Trip policy, and a minimum of two night's pre-booked on our Annual Trip policies.

Choose your country with care

If you're undecided over a destination, research exchange rates and the cost of living and keep an open mind. You may find countries and cities near each other have very similar climate, beaches, sights, food and drink, and even fares are roughly the same as well. For example, Turkey is cheaper than neighbouring Greece, Portugal generally less costly than Spain. Likewise for city holidays the same substitution can apply. Unless your heart is set on Vienna, try Budapest where prices are around a third cheaper, and the two cities are similar in architecture, culture and cuisine.

Reduce the length of your holiday

People traditionally take two weeks for a main holiday and while some love it, others are bored by the end. Eight or ten days may be fine – which would leave money for a weekend break or two somewhere else.

Book and travel off-peak if you can

UK holiday firms routinely increase prices during school holidays, often by as much as a third. Schools are tough on parents taking children out of school during term-time, but if you don't have children, this is obviously the best time to go away.

Booking outside of July and August also avoids crowds and Europe's hottest months – in fact the weather in many parts of Europe is better in June or September than July and August.

Also, many countries have different holiday patterns to the UK so booking directly avoids any UK imposed price hikes. For example, in America Easter is not regarded as a “holiday” period in the same way as in the UK, and they don't have half term either – a UK-based Easter deal to New York may charge a premium, but as Easter is not a major US holiday, local hotel rates stay unchanged.

Consider all-inclusive holidays

You can budget for major holiday expenses such as travel and hotels but it's all those little extras such as drinks and restaurant meals that can bust the bank balance. All inclusive, where you can have limitless food and drink at no extra cost, has been fast growing in popularity, especially for more distant destinations. You know what the holiday will cost, you don't have to worry about foreign exchange rates and children will be happier, knowing they don't have to worry about every drink and ice cream.

Use local transport instead of car hire

A week's use of a car, plus fuel, will go a long way on taxis and local transport.

Besides saving money, you'll interact with local people, see more and not have to worry about different driving conditions, constant map use, or the huge penalties if you scratch the hire vehicle.

Don't hire if you can take your own

If you do take the car, take home comforts with you – anything from beach chairs to bikes. A bicycle can cost £60 a week to hire in Europe – £240 for a family of four. It's cheaper to buy a cycle rack for the car.

Share a villa, gite or cottage

Expect to pay just 25-30% extra for a four bedroom cottage (sleeping eight people) in Brittany in early September compared with a similarly located property for four people. You can share the chores while bigger houses often have better facilities. But start with a few ground rules so they don't become ex-friends.

Try city-centre hotels at weekends

City centre hotels often rely on business users during the week but stand half-empty on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights. You can often get three nights for the price of two.

Restrict mobile phone use

Forget your UK phone deal once you leave the country. Typically you'll pay around 30p a minute to make a call from Europe and about 10p a minute to receive. Texting is cheaper at 10p a time. In the US, it can be £1.30 a minute to make or receive calls and 40p a text.

Internet downloads can be ruinous – it's possible to run up a £50 bill in few hours if you use your phone as a satnav. Alternatives include calling from a public pay phone, using Skype from an internet cafe, or – if you are a frequent visitor to the country – buying a local SIM card. Some phone companies now have special deals for overseas usage.

Book early / late

Early bookers often get the benefit of cheaper airline tickets or “kids go free deal” – the travel industry needs a minimum number to cover costs. Late bookers can pick up hotel deals – empty rooms produce nothing.

John Lewis plc is an appointed representative (Financial Conduct Authority number 416011) of Ageas Retail Limited. John Lewis Travel Insurance is provided by Ageas Retail Limited (No1324965). Registered office: Ageas House, Hampshire Corporate Park, Templars Way, Eastleigh, Hampshire, SO53 3YA. Ageas Retail Limited is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (number 312468). Ageas Retail Limited is a sister company of Ageas Insurance Limited.

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