Why wait until summer to enjoy a vacation? There’s lots of reasons to travel abroad in winter. You may want to experience Xmas markets abroad or try a snow sport. Alternatively, it could be the perfect time to catch some much needed vitamin D – some countries get sun all year round and may charge cheaper rates due to being out of season.
It can be a struggle affording a vacation a winter with Christmas to think about. That said, there are ways to make winter vacation costs more manageable. Here are just a few tips for those on a tight budget.
Book last minute or book far ahead
The time at which you book can have a big effect on the overall price. Last minute deals as on sites such as this one can save you huge amounts of money – hotels will slash prices last minute so that rooms are booked up, whilst airline companies will similarly reduce costs to fill up flights. Unfortunately, this strategy does rely on being able to quickly pack up and go, which few people have the freedom to do due to everyday commitments. One way to get around this is to book time off months in advance, wait until the week before and then book your holiday – you won’t know where you’re going until then, but it could be a fun surprise.
Another way of getting a discount is to book your holiday well in advance. In other words, plan for next winter now. Because few people are able to commit that far ahead, prices are similarly low. Just be wary that you may not be able to book more than a year ahead as flights may not be scheduled at that point, just as hotels may not be taking bookings that far ahead.
Don’t go in December
If you’re looking for a cheap winter holiday, you might want to think twice about going in December. This month is a busy period for flight companies as people will be flying home for Christmas. Many hotels also hike up their prices as they may have to pay staff extra to work over the Christmas period. There are perks to going in December – you get to experience the Christmas markets and potentially take part in other unique events. However, it’s possible these markets and events may start in November – going then might drastically lower the cost. If you’re not interested in these Christmas attraction, January, February and March are generally cheap months to go abroad anywhere (excluding ski resorts – these months are peak season).
Be wary of other festivals
There may be other festivals to look out for over the winter period that could potentially hike up prices. You should probably avoid a US holiday during Thanksgiving, as hotel prices will be higher. If you’re visiting Latin America, carnival season in February might also be something to be wary of. Those visiting China meanwhile should be careful of visiting during Chinese New Year on 16th February.
Have a staycation
Taking a holiday in your home country might not allow you to enjoy the sun during winter, but it could be much cheaper in many cases. Internal flights are extremely cheap. Alternatively, you can take the car and avoid the hassle of flying altogether.
Enjoy a weekend away
A weekend away could be another option. It’s certain to cost less and you may only have to take a Monday or Friday off work, making it more possible to do it last minute. You are restricted to local destinations as you don’t want to spend too much time travelling, however you can still choose somewhere far enough to make you feel like you’re getting away.
Those with more freedom can save even more money with a midweek break such as Tuesday to Friday. You will have to take the time off work, but hotels and travel will be much cheaper. It’s the perfect way to enjoy a winter city break.
Try out of flavour destinations
The tourist hotspots are likely to be fairly pricey all year round. To bring down the price, it could be worthwhile visiting somewhere a little off the beaten path. For a European city break, don’t immediately look towards Paris or Salzburg – Eastern European cities such as Budapest or Tallinn look similarly impressive in winter and are much cheaper. For a holiday in the sun, don’t automatically head to the Caribbean or Bali – for that same level of sunshine it could be worth trying Central America or Vietnam instead. The same principle applies to ski resorts. France, Austria and Switzerland are always expensive. Instead, try non-Alpine destinations such as Romania or Bulgaria or Andorra.
Break up long haul flights
The less far you’re willing to travel by air, generally the cheaper. However, there are some tricks for bringing down the costs of long-distance journeys. Don’t always opt for a single long-haul flight. Whilst your journey will be longer, multiple stops and flights can severely reduce costs. For instance, if you’re travelling from London to New York, stopping off at Reykjavik en route could bring the costs down by half. You could even stay the night if you don’t want to wait around in an airport – it’s still likely to be cheaper even with an extra hotel cost on top.
Go all inclusive
Opting all inclusive saves you the cost of meals and drink. On the surface, chalets with self-catering might seem cheaper, but you may find that when adding on the costs of getting your own food or eating out it becomes drastically more expensive. Many all-inclusive hotels include free alcohol up to a certain time of night which can also bring down the cost of booze considerably. Of course you still may want to go out drinking or dining occasionally, but if you do run out of money towards the end of holiday you’ve always got the option to eat and drink at the hotel.
Consider borrowing – but use the right loan
You shouldn’t borrow money to pay off an entire holiday, however it could help to pay a small contribution towards your holiday. It’s easy to overspend over the Christmas period, which could put you in a position in which you can’t pay off your final holiday instalment. You should be careful of how you borrow money, as some methods may charge high interest rates on top – you’ll find online guides on types of loans such as this guide here. You might even be able to get a no-interest loan or use a no-interest credit card. This may require you to have a good credit rating though.
Ask for holiday money for Christmas
Christmas might be the perfect time to ask for some money from friends and relatives. This could help to go towards a winter holiday (it could even be spending money to use whilst on vacation). It could save you getting lots of gifts you don’t want, contributing to a gift that you can truly appreciate.