Top tips for low-cost trips from cheap-holiday guru Chelsea Dickenson

Don’t let the cost of living crisis ruin your getaway: Top tips for low-cost trips from a cheap-holiday expert, from swapping your home to staying in less popular places

  • Overseas jaunts could get the chop as the cost-of-living crisis intensifies 
  • But there are lots of ways to vacation without splurging, says Chelsea Dickenson
  • ‘After all,’ she says, ‘given the past couple of years, we deserve it’

We’re all feeling the squeeze. 

And with holidays often considered a luxury, overseas jaunts could well be one of the first things to get the chop as the cost-of-living crisis intensifies.

But hold on; there are lots of simple ways still to have that all-important holiday without breaking the bank. After all, given the past couple of years, we deserve it.

There are lots of simple ways to have that all-important holiday without breaking the bank


Pick a less popular place

Desperate to visit a particular country? Opt for a city or lesser-known area, rather than a popular or coastal destination. Flight and hotel costs are likely to be much lower and you can still holiday in the country you love.

The same goes for staycations. Research by Which? Travel found that travellers could save up to £400 on hotel rooms on a one-week UK break by staying just a few miles away from a hotspot.

Contrast prices

Many of us gravitate towards cheap flights and accommodation, but it’s actually your daily costs that often tip you over budget. Numbeo ( is the world’s largest cost-of-living database and a brilliant tool for comparing the average cost of meals out, taxis and supermarket essentials, among many other things, in destinations across the world. Some of the cheapest European countries are Croatia, Montenegro and Portugal.

Use comparison websites

Clued-in: Cheap Holiday Expert Founder Chelsea Dickenson

Check your flight costs with a comparison website such as Skyscanner, Kayak or Google Flights, which will send you on to an airline or online travel agent to book your flights. But remember — your contract is with whoever you book with, so always check the small print.

Fly indirect

If you’re really trying to cut costs, consider indirect flights. They can be much cheaper and the stopovers are often short.

Overall flight costs

It’s worth considering how much it’s going to cost you to get to and from an airport at that time, and if you need bags (a standard easyJet seat, for example, now only allows one small bag under the seat in front).

These are the two areas that can make a cheap flight not so cheap, and it may be better value to book a costlier flight.

Do you need it?

Many budget airlines will offer a package that includes bags, seat reservations and priority boarding.

However, it can be cheaper to add these things individually later on in the booking process.

Look into business class

It may sound crazy but I once saved £40 by flying home from Rome in Business Class over Economy, so it’s worth a try.

Research car hire prices

If you need to hire a car, always check the price before you book your flights and accommodation, as it can sometimes surprise you. If you’re in a fix, try the ‘Airbnb of cars’,


Book where to stay first

Try booking a hotel for a Sunday night, says Chelsea – it’s often the cheapest night at a hotel. So shift your weekend break from Friday-to-Sunday to Saturday-to-Monday

It’s likely your accommodation will be more expensive than your flights, so research that cost first. Some websites — including Airbnb and — will allow you to search whole countries (Spain) and continents (Europe). Then use the filters to find the perfect place within your budget.

Which nights?

Search for a specific hotel on Google Hotels, click ‘view prices’, then click on the check-in date to see a calendar with the nightly costs.

Go direct

Found some great prices on comparison websites? Try calling the hotel direct to see if it can match it or, even better, offer you a lower price.


Book a standard room, then ask politely for a free upgrade. You can email in advance or ask at check-in.

Monitor costs

Some companies price match, so if you manage to find your accommodation for a lower price later on, you may be able to get credit or even money back.

If you have booked somewhere with free cancellation, there’s a clever website called which will monitor the price for you and prompt you to re-book if the cost should happen to go down.

Swap your home

The websites and can help with this.

Stay for free

House-sitting allows you to stay somewhere free in exchange for looking after someone’s home, garden or perhaps even pets. Trusted House-sitters ( is a popular site for travelling pet sitters, but Nomador ( has free membership if you want to test the waters.

Try Sunday nights

It’s often the cheapest night at a hotel, so shift your weekend break from Friday- to-Sunday to Saturday-to-Monday.


Prepaid travel cards

If you need cash, use to compare rates. M&S and the Post Office often have some of the best rates, while airports invariably have the worst

Say goodbye to transaction fees by getting a prepaid travel card, which you can apply for online. They don’t need a credit check, you use them like a debit card and simply top up your money from your bank account using an app. Revolut and Wise both have free accounts — but remember to check the small print.

Don’t get cash at airports

If you need cash, use to compare rates. M&S and the Post Office often have some of the best rates, while airports invariably have the worst — so avoid them at all cost.

Download a taxi app

If public transport won’t cut it, research whether companies such as Uber, Bolt and Free Now operate, as they can be cheaper than standard taxis.

Pay in local currency

Paying with a card? Always opt for the local currency rather than pounds, in order to avoid charges.

Check data roaming costs

Data roaming costs are back across many networks, so check how much it will cost. Look into ‘tethering’, which allows one phone to share its internet with others.

Stash salt in a travel mini

When staying in self-catering accommodation, fill small bottles and pots with things such as salt, pepper and sugar, and fill a travel shampoo bottle with olive oil for the liquids bag. Then you won’t need to buy them full-size.

Book a free walking tour

It’s great for getting a feel for an area. Ask your guide for the most affordable places to go to.

Eat on the cheap

Too Good To Go is an app available in 17 countries that connects customers with restaurants and cafes with unsold surplus food. Pop in your location, scroll through what treats are available near you and tap ‘reserve’ it to pick up later. It’s cheap and it’s green. 

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