Hey Skint pals,
It’s been a while, hasn’t it? Apologies for the lack of posting here over the last couple of weeks – the old Skint back trouble flared up once again, making it nearly impossible to sit at a computer. for longer than ten minutes. Still, after a bit of a rest, and with cushion firmly tucked in behind me I am now back in the fray.
I’m now counting the days till the annual Skint camping trip in France. As regular readers will know, if you cut me open I’ll have Camping Roolz written on my heart. There’s nothing like practically living outdoors for a couple of weeks after a long year in the city – and it happens to have the not-inconsiderable bonuses of being a great laugh and pretty damned thrifty too.
So thrifty in fact that we have managed to squeeze our pennies that bit further and be away for nearly three weeks this time – and I already know at the end of it I still won’t want to come home. We’re going with Eurocamp this year and have a week in the Dordogne and two on the west coast and now, with hols and flights booked I’m recoiling in terror at the thought of forking out three weeks spending money.
Camping’s a bargainous holiday, but you still need to eat and live once there, so I’ve put together a few ideas for making sure the holiday euros really go the distance.
1) Buy suncream before you go. It has always struck me as one of summer’s little ironies: why suncream should cost waaaay more in warm, sunny climates than it does in our chilly homeland. You’d think, given economies of scale, that it should retail for less, but if you’ve ever run out of suncream abroad then you too will have experienced palpitations at the prices. A bottle of cream that costs £5 in the UK can easily set you back as much as 25 euros abroad. So, this year let’s all do our wallets a favour and and pack plenty of cream into our suitcases. In my experience the Skint family always needs three times as much as my initial estimate, so I’ll be packing more suncream and fewer clothes this year.
2) Max your Money: Of course, if you want to make the most of your money whilst abroad, you have to know how to make it work for you before you even leave home. Don’t wait till you get abroad to withdraw cash at the ATM – savvy travellers sort it before they leave, using a service such as MoneyMax, which zips around all of the online currency sites in milliseconds, then does the maths to work out which deal is best for you. It takes fees into account as well, which can be rather mind-boggling.
3) Plan your lunch at breakfast. This doesn’t apply to camping, but if you’re on a bed and breakfast or half-board deal at a hotel, you might want to think ahead a little and stock up at breakfast on a few goodies that will see you through the day. Some may call its sneaky, but I say it’s savvy – butter a couple of rolls, wrap some slices of cheese and ham in a napkin, pop a banana or two in your beachbag and you’ve got yourself a ready-made picnic to see you through till dinner.
4) Eat like the locals. This one scores both on value for money and on getting the most out of your holiday destination: wherever the locals eat dinner, make that your local too. Avoid the restaurants on the main strip offering overpriced tourist menus. Instead ask for recommendations in local shops or from hotel staff, explaining that you want to eat where the locals do. That way you can rest assured you’re not being ripped off with tourist prices and odds are that you’ll have a more memorable night too, really getting under the skin of the place you’re visiting. Check out tripadvisor’s forums to find out the best local haunts.
5) Rent out your house whilst away: With the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow this summer and lots of people travelling here from abroad, I know many savvy folks who will be leasing their homes through airbnb, then using the revenue to fund their own summer holiday. This post from fellow blogger Prairie Eco Thrifter shows you how to give airbnb a try, as does this one from Paula at Afford Anything, who in her usual super-smart fashion, is using airbnb as a whole new income stream.
6) Turn off your 3G and roaming: Every year we read the horror stories of poor souls who kept the kids happy in the car by letting them watch kids TV on the iphone, then racked up a million pound bill. You don’t want to be that person. Make sure your roaming is switched off , download any films etc you might want before you go, before you and use your nearest Wi-Fi hotspot whilst away whenever possible.
There are more holiday money-saving tips at this Dealchecker guide, which I contributed to recently as one of many money-saving bloggers. It’s worth a look before you pack your suitcase!
What about you, Skint pals? Do you have any other tips on how to get the most bang from your holiday bucks? If so, please do share them with us all.