Skipping off on holiday with only a passport, credit card and big smile sounds super spontaneous.
It’s also likely to be super expensive.
It’s all very well trilling “Oh, you can always buy stuff when you’re away!” to people who overpack (ie me).
But then you end up paying over the odds for new versions of things you already have, and wasting holiday time traipsing round unfamiliar shops. You can also miss out on deals and discounts.
As with much frugal living, it’s a balance between saving money and saving time. I’d rather spend a bit longer on my packing, so I can spend less when we’re away.
Packing list to cut the cost of a staycation
This summer, like hordes of other families, we opted for a staycation. We’re just back from a fortnight in the Lake District.
In my quest to make the most of our money while away, here’s some cost-cutting essentials from my packing list:
National Trust and English Heritage membership cards
If you’ve paid for membership, might as well make the most of it! Comes in handy not just for visiting assorted castles, forts and gardens, but also free parking at NT beaches and nature reserves.
If you’re not already a member, get 15% off annual membership* of English Heritage if you use the code EH2018 before the end of August. There’s info on National Trust membership here, but if you’re feeling really sneaky, join the National Trust for Scotland for less and still get access to properties in England.
Supermarket loyalty cards
At home, I use my Morrisons More card and East of England membership card most often. But other supermarkets might be closer while we’re away. If I’m shopping somewhere with a loyalty scheme, I like to pick up those points, so I dig out my Sainsbury’s Nectar, Tesco Clubcard, Boots Advantage card and Iceland Bonus card before leaving. Even better, avoid a bulging wallet by using an app like Stocard. Stocard lets you scan your loyalty cards, then show the barcode at the till.
Supermarket vouchers or codes
Less one for the suitcase, but useful when planning ahead. I book a supermarket delivery to arrive at the start of self-catering holidays. It saves money compared to emergency purchases at the nearest garage or corner shop – and I save more by checking for any voucher codes or money off a minimum spend. This year, I got an email just before our holiday with a Sainsbury’s voucher for £12 off an £80 spend. Perfect timing.
Food for the first night
It’s hard resist the siren call of a pricey takeaway if you arrive, tired and hungry, to face an empty fridge. We’ve had a couple of holidays where the supermarket delivery booked for our first evening was delayed, leaving us ready to chew the furniture.
So this year I made and froze a vat of bolognese sauce to take with us, plus some pasta and broccoli. It meant we could eat half the sauce on the first night, and half later in the holiday transformed into chilli con carne.
No post on cutting holiday costs would be complete without mentioning packed lunches!
I try to avoid the eye-gouging prices at motorway service stations by taking a load of drinks and snacks. Refillable water bottles then come in handy for the whole holiday. We’ve even invested in a second S’ip by S’well bottle, after we were so impressed with the one I was given for free. Also important to make sure any provisions end up in my footwell, rather than buried deep in the boot…
Car journeys feel even longer with squabbling children in the back. I can’t pretend travel games are the entire solution to world peace. But packing a selection of games, books, pads, pens and electronic devices can help limit warfare. You’re also less likely to crack at motorway services and buy multiple magazines, plastic tat and junk food in the hope of keeping them quiet. Top tip: take a power bank to recharge any devices that are flagging.
Vouchers for attractions
We love trying out all kinds of entertainment and attractions while we’re away, but ticket costs can really mount up. I dig out any “Grown Ups Go Free” vouchers and other loyalty scheme offers. We’ve used vouchers from cereal packets to save well over £100 visiting different Sealife centres, for example, and cut the cost of visiting Pensthorpe with Tesco Clubcard vouchers. But they can’t save any money stuck on the mantelpiece at home.
ID like a driving licence and utility bill
Bear with me on this one. Even on holiday, local libraries can be a lifeline for borrowing books and DVDs, getting decent internet access, printing tickets for attractions that won’t scan your phone or taking refuge from the rain. Take ID if you want to sign up for a visitor’s library card.
Now – over to you. What do you add to your packing list to cut holiday costs? Do share your top tips in the comments, I’d love to hear!
*indicates an affiliate link, so anything you buy through it will help support the blog, as I will get a small commission at no cost to you. Many thanks!
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