It’s around this time of year when you start planning how you’ll spend your summer; specifically, whether you’ll work, complete an internship, or go on holiday.
When you inevitably cave in and opt for the latter, it can be disheartening to see few student-friendly holiday prices (alas, the regret of poor student budgeting has finally hit).
Here’s some tips on getting the most affordable holiday:
Don’t opt for package holidays
On the whole package holidays are priced considerably higher than if you were to book each component individually. Although there are some great package deals out there, many aren’t student-friendly holiday prices.
Last year one of my best friends and I managed to book flights to Morocco, transport to and from the airport in England and Morocco and a 4 day stay at an all-inclusive hotel (rated 4 stars) for £250 each. The trick? Booking everything individually and getting the best deals by doing that.
It’s definitely riskier because you’re relying on every individual thing you booked to pull through which package holidays take care of, but it worked out for us at an amazing price (despite our transport from the airport being about an hour later than we had booked for).
Flying from London is normally cheaper
East Midlands Airport is the closest to my university (Nottingham), but flights here can be almost triple the price of flights from London (I’ve found Stansted to be the best from experience). I’ll often travel from Nottingham to London to catch a flight to cut costs.
Getting to London can be more expensive than the flight itself; you can resolve this by either booking a train well in advance, or if it’s a last minute holiday then catch the coach to London.
Sure, a 5 hour journey with multiple stops in a cramped coach isn’t ideal, but from Nottingham to Stansted on a coach I’ve paid as little as a fiver.
Use sites like kayak.com, Expedia.com and Skyscanner.net
For the flights themselves, these websites are brilliant at sourcing the cheapest deals. Chances are you’ll be flying on the likes of Ryanair, but when you get a flight as cheap as £20 for Copenhagen or under 300 for East Coast, it’s worth sacrificing your dignity.
Kayak is my favourite in particular; if you set the location to ‘anywhere’, it’ll show you the cheapest flights possible and the dates that these deals are active on. Of course, the downside is the dates are often inconvenient, like midway through November, but they work if you’re looking for an escape during term time.
Using Expedia I managed to get a return flight to Australia for just over £500 with a one hour layover both ways in Abu Dhabi – a pretty incredible deal.
This website needs its own section because of the crazy deals it shows. A friend in America once linked it to me because she knew how much I wanted to return to USA, and sure enough they showcase plenty of amazing flights from England to America for less than £200.
The catch? The dates they offer are very specific and for a restrictive amount of time. Typically, the deals are for about a week’s trip in set months like October.
On more than one occasion I’ve seen 1p flights listed…pretty fitting for student-friendly holiday prices.
I’ve never tried this myself, but I know a couple of people who have used couchsurfing.com to find a couch to rest on. The idea is that you stay at someone’s place who’s offering up their couch instead of renting a hotel; whilst it’s a cheaper alternative, obviously be sure to do a proper background check and make sure it’s safe.
Bring emotional rather than physical baggage
Bit of an obvious one, but increased luggage means increased prices. If you’re going somewhere hot you’ll be in swim gear a lot of the time anyway, and your mates shouldn’t care if you recycle outfits each day, so it may be worth cutting costs by packing hand luggage only (some of the ‘hand luggage’ people bring looks as big as a regular suitcase anyway – worth looking into the rules to see what you can get away with).
Pack compactly in a backpack like you would for a camping trip and you’re sorted.
Time your trips well
Another obvious one, but remember prices tend to be higher during school holidays. Also remember that private schools have holidays before state schools and I’ve found prices to go up from that point, so book your holiday when all kids are still in school.
Better still, have a break from studies during your uni term time to get the best deals possible. I’ve always found travelling to be the best remedy for feeling lacklustre – we all need a good adventure!