Do you struggle to find the money to go on holiday with your family? Perhaps you are on a low income, like us, and have pretty much assumed you won't be able to afford it? Do you wish you could find a cheap holiday near the beach? Or a holiday park with free entertainment for all the kids? Well, you just might be able to with the help from these 6 tips on how to find cheap UK holidays.
1. Sun holidays.
When I first found out about sun holidays from a friend, I couldn't really believe it. Holidays for £9.50? Sounded too good to be true.
Sun holidays and £9.50 club is a promo for Sun newspaper readers offering cheap family holidays at a very reduced prices, starting at £9.50 per person. These holidays are only at select UK holiday parks but typically included the big guys such as Haven and Butlins. In order to book a cheap sun holiday, you go online and enter tokens or key words. These are found in the newspapers, are collected over the course of a few weeks and then entered in to "release" the holidays which are available to book. The good news is that you don't need to buy the papers or collect the tokens because there are Facebook groups which have them for you. This doesn't get you early booking but there are still plenty of holidays left over which you can access just by using the key words/tokens found on this Facebook group. I have done it myself to book a Butlins holiday. Join the group, find the pinned post (at the top of the group, under the header) and there is a list of words which you need to enter into the website to find a holiday.
Be aware that your holiday probably won't be £9.50 in total. The sun savers start from £9.50 and that is per person. It is always a minimum of 4 people per booking (including any age child) so even if there are 2 of you booking, you still have to pay for 4 people), and they (sometimes) do not include entertainment passes, any catering options, service, linen, etc., These are added on as extras.
I strongly recommend you buy entertainment passes. You can add these onto the holiday booking through Sun Savers when bookin if they are not included. Without these passes you cannot access any of the park facilities such as kids clubs and activities, swimming, arcades and evening entertainment. They are worth the extra cost. Some holiday deals include the passes and offer an upgrade of accommodation, all of this is clear when in the booking process.
Although the extras can add up, compared to the prices of booking a holiday direct it can still work out much cheaper. Always look at the price compared to booking direct first, for the same dates, and do your maths. Sometimes sun holidays can save hundreds of pounds. For example, our Butlins just for tots holiday for September this year would have cost nearly £600 if booking direct. The holiday cost £280 in total through sun holidays, including entertainment passes, half board catering, linen for 4 nights at Skegness. It would have been cheaper for self catering (we have since changed it and saved £40 per person).
2. Caravan parks / Haven.
We have booked twice with Haven, you can read about our holiday at Reighton Sands here and Blue Dolphin here. The holidays were booked direct on the Haven website, both for a week and cost no more than £200 in total. During term booking direct with Haven even a few months in advance can be very affordable.
The caravans are self catering so cost less than holidays with catering options (like Butlins), we order a Tesco delivery to the caravan park on the day of arrival, and the entertainment is all included. The only thing we pay extra for is any days out off the camp sites which are optional. We love Haven, we find it VERY good quality for money and can't wait to go back. I want to try Thorpe Park in Cleethorpes, next.
There are more holiday parks in the UK and such a big variety to choose from, Haven is the only one I have stayed at so can comment on. I recommend you do some research before you book for any park.
If you are looking outside of term time it will cost a little extra so I recommend checking sun holidays or booking well in advance (direct even a year) where you will be able to leave a small deposit and spread the cost of the holiday out with affordable payments. This is the same for Butlins, too, and once we have been in September I will be sure to do a review and update this!
3. Private caravan hire.
Finding a private caravan to let already on a holiday park such as a Haven site, is another way of going on holiday for cheap. There are a lot of caravans on holiday parks which are privately owned but are rented out when empty. They're usually much cheaper than booking direct and can even be cheaper than sun savers. You would need to check with the owners to see what comes with the caravan, such as bedding, linen and crockery, and entertainment passes can be bought direct from the holiday park you are staying at. To get an idea of the cost of entertainment passes, fun passes at Haven sites vary throughout the UK but start at £23 an adult for 7 nights off peak; see the full prices here.
We have used Airbnb many, many times and find it is fantastic for accommodation for city breaks and small holidays. Usually, we use Airbnb when going to a city and stay overnight or a few nights; there are typically lots of rooms, houses, flats and accommodation types to choose from in any developed city in the UK at really reduced prices. You can choose to share a room in someones house, rent an entire house/flat or some people even have tents, glamping pods and farms. There's so much to choose from and you can spend a lot of time on Airbnb just browsing!
I have always found Airbnb to be cheaper than a hotel, especially in London. It's so much more than the price, too, you also get a unique experience to "live like a local". I find it way more personal and cosy compared to a hotel, we have always had lovely hosts who have added extra special touches like free tea and coffee, travel guides, or hand-written thank you letters, art, maps, meals and much more! It is always worth not ruling out a shared house because although you might want privacy with children, some of the rooms in a shared house have private entrances/private bathrooms so you basically get your own place for a cheaper price. Always check the hosts feedback before booking and send any questions, everyone is always happy to help.
If you have never used AirBnB before, if you use my refer a friend code we both get £25 of our next trips. Once you have signed up you get your own refer a friend code to refer your friends and can keep earning £25 over and over again. I have got some nice discounts this way and it spreads the love for AirBnB, too! Yay!
5. Other cheap accommodation, websites and vouchers
Family hostels are a good way of saving money on accommodation. We have been recommended YHA many times, though we have only booked hostels through hostel bookers and booking.com. We are particularly fond with Igloo hostel in Nottingham which we have stayed at a few times now, and we can't wait to try YHA.
Camping is a cheap option for a family holiday and there are so many camp sites in the UK to choose from. UK Campsite, pitchup, campsites.co.uk are all places you can find good camping spots which list all the facilities they have. For North East and North Yorkshire camping, I recommend this helpful guide by Samantha at North East Family Fun.
Check voucher websites such as Wowcher, Groupon and Livingsocial for holiday deals, cheap hotels and family savings. You can search these websites via type of voucher, and in the past I have managed to find some good deals specifically vouchers which combine theme park/zoo entry with a hotel.
6. And finally, a few other ways to save money…
Go self catering where possible. If you're staying at a holiday park, get your groceries delivered to you by ordering online. Make sure to meal plan for every day of your holiday and take into consideration any treats, picnics, drinks and packed lunches to keep costs down.
If you are staying overnight or only for a short time, check whether your accommodation has any kitchen facilities you could use to make up packed lunches for the next day or dinner that night. If not, buying food for a "dinner picnic" from local grocery shops is always cheaper than eating out or hunt for restaurant deals on the voucher websites listed above.
When traveling by public transport, make sure you look for cheap tickets in advance and familiarise yourself with types of day and travel passes available in the areas you are going. I really recommend rail cards for train travel, we don't have any kids over 5 so we have a two-together railcard which saves us hundreds of pounds; if you have kids over 5, then consider a family railcard to save you money.
You can find out more tips on saving money in this blog post.
There you have it!
Sometimes it can be hard work trying to find ways to save money on breaks and holidays. I means more maths and researching compared to just going on a website, finding a holiday and clicking "book". But, even though it may be more time consuming, it is worth it. We are on a low income and with these tips and ways of finding cheap UK holidays, we are able to go away even with being on a budget. Because of this, I don't mind the extra time it takes to do the research and find the best deals, and I hope you find the same, too. Happy holidays!
Thanks for reading!