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Thrifty Tips for Booking a Short Break This Winter

Feeling the need to get away from it all to beat the winter blues? Don’t we all. Even the biggest Christmas enthusiasts among us can’t deny the stresses and strains we face at this time of year. A hectic schedule of planning and partying combined with the dark, damp and cold puts us all in need of a break.

An added strain this winter, of course, is the financial pressures we’re all facing. As the cost of living crisis bites with soaring food and energy prices, there’s a serious side to the festive celebrations. We have to find a way to make having fun affordable.

That carries over into any thoughts we have of booking time away. With household budgets being stretched the way they are right now, does it make sense to be making travel plans? Can we afford it?

If you really are hankering after a change of scenery, a short break could be the answer. Heading away for three or four nights is obviously a lot cheaper than a full week or two-week holiday, but you still get the benefit of some downtime and fun experiences.

There are also ways and means of making a short break even more budget-friendly. Here are some thrifty tips that will save you money.

Swap a long weekend for a weekday break

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When people think short break, they almost automatically think ‘long weekend’. Travelling Thursday to Sunday/Monday makes sense if you want to minimise time booked off work. But it doesn’t make much sense financially.

The weekends are peak travel time. Everyone has the same idea as you. Which means the cost of accommodation goes up, the cost of flights goes up. 

If you want a budget break, the thriftiest times to travel are on a Sunday or Monday, returning Wednesday or Thursday.

Research public transport at your destination in advance

Thrifty Tips for Booking a Short Break This Winter

One of the surest ways to drain your wallet in another country is to rely on taxis to get around. The classic is heading out of the airport after you land and jumping into the first taxi you see to take you to your hotel. You can guarantee you’ll end up paying over the odds.

Trains and buses are always cheaper. But not being familiar with the local transport system and routes, you don’t want to leave it until you arrive to find out the best ways of getting around. Do some research in advance. A lot of places also offer travel passes which can save you money depending on how often you use transport. 

Look at combining holiday insurance

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If you are travelling as a family with children, you will probably already buy group holiday insurance as kids can’t buy their own policies. But even if you are travelling as a couple or as a group of adults, you can take advantage of combo policies. It nearly always works out cheaper putting two or more people on the same policy than it does buying single policies separately.

Another travel insurance hack if you expect to travel more than once in the next 12 months is to buy a multi-trip annual policy. This is especially worth considering if you’re planning a short trip early in the year but fully expect to go on a longer holiday at a later date. You only need to buy insurance once, and you can save money doing so. 

Just beware of buying a Europe-only annual policy ahead of your short city break, and then deciding you want to travel further afield at a later date. Europe-only policies are the cheapest deals you can get. But with annual insurance, it would only cover you for Europe for all of your trips. If you wanted to fly long haul, you’d have to buy another policy.

Consider an off-peak staycation

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Finally, there’s been a lot of noise made over the past couple of years about how expensive holidaying in the UK has become. There’s an obvious reason for that, of course. While travel abroad was off limits (or just plain complicated) over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, demand for domestic destinations soared, carrying accommodation prices with it.

But as with anywhere else, prices fluctuate across the seasons. It might be next to impossible to get a plush hotel or holiday rental in Cornwall during the summer months without forking out premium prices, but that’s not the case in January and February. Just wrap up warm and plan for bracing beach walks rather than lazy days in the sunshine.

Similarly, hotels in bustling tourist cities like York, Bath, Edinburgh and, yes, London, will drop their prices sharply after the Christmas rush is done with. If you have the luxury of avoiding the school holidays – and, again, plan a weekday escape – you can find superb options for half the price you would pay at peak times.

Ruben Arribas is the co-founder of Gamintraveler and a Spanish traveler who has traveled to more than 100 countries around the world. He is now a full-time digital nomad.