Our experts share their best budget travel tips | Travel

Opt for a free city walking tours — many major cities have them now. I’ve tried them in Budapest and Gdansk and the guides have been young and enthusiastic, because they’re fresh in the business and effectively singing for their supper. There’s no obligation to make a donation when the hat goes round, but assuming you do it will still likely be cheaper than a paid-for tour. Andrew Eames

For couples looking to get the best fares in the UK get a Two Together railcard (to save a third on all journeys you make together) and buy tickets via a ticket-splitting site (I tend to use splitmyfare.co.uk, but look around at others). From Bath Spa to Edinburgh I’ve saved £197 with this trick. Sarah Baxter

3. Barter better

Step one: remove all cash from your wallet, apart from one note of your choice. Step two: approach your chosen item, and stand there umming and ahhing until the stallholder approaches you. Step three: ask how much, and when it’s inevitably more than you have, enthusiastically whip out your wallet to reveal your solitary note. Step four: sheepishly ask if they’ll accept it, and when they say no, walk away. Around 70 per cent of the time I get no further than a few steps before being chased down. Georgia Stephens

Buy currency before you travel with pre-paid cards such as FairFX

Buy currency before you travel with pre-paid cards such as FairFX


4. Card tricks #part 1 . . .

Use a pre-paid currency card (FairFX, Caxton etc), which lets you buy currency at a favourable rate. Plus then you can budget easily as you know exactly how much you’ve spent and got left on it. Cathy Adams

5. Card tricks #part 2

Or swap your credit or debit card out for the likes of a Monzo card and you’ll avoid any fees or charges. They’ll also give you one of the best exchange rates on the day. With Monzo you can withdraw cash for free in Europe and £200 every 30 days elsewhere. Lucy Perrin

6. Excess success

If you’re planning to rent a car on a trip (or in my case several cars a year over many trips) then buy comprehensive annual car-hire insurance and make sure you never get stung at the counter with the expensive options the companies offer on the day. You just need to make sure your own one covers their often egregious excess. Jamie Lafferty

7. Luxe for less

Top hotels are often reluctant to publicise their last-minute availability but if you search for Mystery hotel deals — called “Express Deals” on priceline.com — you’ll find some staggering discounts. Some are unnamed (although described and pictured) but four or five-star sanctuaries feature frequently, and you can search by location and date. Richard Mellor

Get lounge access for less

Get lounge access for less


8. Lounge around

Whenever I need access to an airport lounge, I check on loungebuddy.co.uk. You can book entry into just about any lounge without flying business or first class and it’s usually much cheaper than advertised rates elsewhere. Qin Xie

9. Brunch like a king

Always opt for the B&B option if you can, and go as late as possible to breakfast, because you can then eat a feast and not bother about lunch. Sometimes, I wake up early when I’m travelling and go out exploring for a couple of hours and then come back for a late breakfast. Lisa Grainger

10. Take the long view

Before booking the “cheapest” thing, consider how your trip will play out as a whole. The cheapest hotel isn’t really the cheapest if you have to get a cab everywhere (rather than walk or get public transport) or if breakfast and wi-fi aren’t included. Alicia Miller

Take advantage of happy hour deals

Take advantage of happy hour deals


11. Happy days

Don’t dismiss “happy hour”. Yes, the term has negative connotations, but I’m not talking fluoro-green shots in Magaluf — rather cocktails and wine in lovely bars. I found out about the Appy Hour app in Reykjavik (a famously expensive city) while on a food tour, and it saved me
so much money by telling me the bars with the best drinks deals on. Hannah Summers

12. Back on track

Always check your travel options to and from the airport. Taking Vienna as an example, the City Airport Train (CAT) from the airport to town will cost £10, while the OBB (Austria’s national rail) runs a frequent service costing just £3.50. It can take up to ten minutes longer but the saving on the cheaper service means at least another glass of zweigelt. Laura Jackson

13. Rome for free

On the first Sunday of the month, entry to most museums and monuments in Rome is free (it’s the last Sunday of the month for the Vatican and the Sistine Chapel). Aim for 1pm for the shortest queues — that’s when Italians, at least, will be eating their lunch. Mia Aimaro Ogden

14. Don’t press charges

Of all the many, boundlessly creative ancillary flight charges, seat selection is surely among the most infuriating. A family of four can pay upwards of £200 for the privilege of sitting together — when airlines’ seat-allocation systems, or their own rules on minors not being allowed to be unaccompanied, often automatically group couples and families together anyway. Resist the fear-mongering if you can and treat any “from” price on this “service” with profound suspicion. Duncan Craig

15. Food for thought

Make a virtue of lunch. Restaurants’ set menus are often cheaper in the middle of the day and their environment buzzier too. Plus nothing says you’re on holiday like a long, lazy lunch. On the subject of food, my husband prefers to picnic on chairlifts rather than paying for mountain restaurants — but we part company on this point. Jenny Coad

16. Hello caller

Get the keepcalling.com app so you can call a UK landline from anywhere in the world for 0.6p per minute (providing you have free wi-fi) — this saved me literally hundreds of pounds when I was caught in a red-listed country late last year. Calling rates are solely based on the country you are calling and not where you’re calling from. Jake Russell

17. Baby steps

New families do well to make the most of long-haul flights before the baby turns two. Until then, if the child can share a seat with one of its parents, you’ll pay just a fraction of the full fare. Then switch to Eurostar for bargain travel — children up to four travel free when they’re on a parent’s lap. With a bit of luck and canny seat-booking, you might even get a spare seat to plonk them in. Liz Edwards

Have we missed anything? Let us know how you save money on holiday in the comments below for a chance to win £1,000 towards an Oliver’s Travels villa break

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