Travelling on a budget: Booking your holiday

With the lockdown restrictions lifting in England you may be starting to think about getting away some time soon. I know me and my friends have already started to think about where will go next summer after our holiday this year was cancelled. Whether you are booking a holiday soon or just thinking about a far-off trip knowing how to budget will be vital. Having an estimate on how much it will cost will mean you can make sure it’s affordable and you’ll know how much you need to save. I’ve outlined my top tips of how to travel on a budget from my own experiences. 

Chose a destination: First step in working out a budget is choosing a destination. I’ll be posting a blog post next week on how I budget for spending when I’m actually on holiday, but it is a good idea to check how much an average day in your destination will cost before you commit. There are some cities and countries that are notoriously more expensive and so these may not be the best places to go when on a budget. One of my top picks would be Budapest, if you’re looking for a city break, as it’s beautiful and has so much to do while not breaking the bank. Me and my friends loved it so much we are thinking of going again next year. Also, work out how far away you want to go. Me and my friends have had some great holidays in the UK, which makes things a bit cheaper as you’re not travelling as far but you can also get great deals on flights within Europe. 

Travel: My top tip here is don’t just go for the first option that comes to mind.  You may automatically think flying will be a lot more expensive than any other mode of transport, but this may not always be the case. When we went to Edinburgh from Birmingham we chose to fly for convenience as it was only a bit more expensive than the train and a good few hours’ time difference. We did the same when flying to Paris, as to take the Eurotunnel or Ferry would have meant getting to the London or the Ferry port when it was a lot more convenient to get to Birmingham airport and just flying from there. If you go for a budget airline and fly at the right time you can get an absolute steal. A tip would also be if you are going to be flying check whether it is cheaper to fly one-way both ways with different airlines as opposed to just getting a return ticket as from my experience this can turn out cheaper. Also remember no matter how you get to the other country you will need to sort transport to your accommodation and you’ll find this to be cheaper if you book in advance rather than get their equivalent of a ‘black cab’ when you arrive in a new country.  Of course, public transport will usually be cheaper but dependant on when you’re flying and where you are staying this may not be possible. Doing that extra bit of research can help you to find good deals on coaches, taxis or shuttle buses. Do check the reviews though before you book and ask friends and family what they have used in the past as they may even have vouchers or referral codes you can use to get some money off. 

Accommodation: Now this is where you will make or break your budget. I feel with the transport the difference in price between options is not overly staggering (unless you decide to do everything business class with all the upgrades). However, deciding on the type of accommodation you want will really be dependent on your budget and dependant on what type of holiday you want.  There’s no point paying for an all-inclusive resort if you’re going on a city break and will be out most of the day however, if you are going on a party holiday it might be worth staying at one of these where alcohol is included. My favourite accommodation when travelling on a budget is a hostel with a kitchen as they’re cheap to stay in and you can cook your own food from the supermarket. This gives you the flexibility that if you want to go out for a meal you can and you’re not missing out on a pre-paid meal, but you can also cook what you want when you want.  You can also use the kitchen to make a packed lunch to take with you on your day out meaning you won’t have to pay to eat out for lunch every day.  Hostels can be used by solo and group travellers alike for a cheap place to stay in a prime tourist area. By putting in the research you can find a place with good transport connections whether it is close to public transport or within walking distance of key places you want to visit. Remember the better you plan the placement of your accommodation the more money you will save when you are actually on holiday. You don’t want to have to be spending loads of money on transport when you can find somewhere to stay that will have better and cheaper transport links. Similar to hostels, are apartments and Airbnb that have the facilities for self-catering so make sure to check-out different options to see what works best for where you want to stay and how many of you are travelling. 

Luggage and travel essentials: It’s always best to plan what you will need to take with you and what you can buy when you arrive. Rather than paying extra for hold luggage me and my friends opt to just take a cabin bag as I have found you can fit everything you need for a holiday in one of these. Be sure to check the dimension requirements before you fly as airlines can be very strict on these and I have had to pay a large sum for my bag to be put in the hold for being just a couple of centimetres too big.  Also remember, there are restrictions on what can be taken in cabin baggage and that all liquids must be under 100ml. It might be a good idea to just buy these when you get over there rather than take miniatures of shampoo, conditioner and body wash which are often overpriced for the amount you get. We usually just get a big bottle of these between us when we arrive which works out cheaper and we don’t have to worry about it taking up room in our liquid’s bags. 

I hope these tips help for when you are looking to book a holiday on a budget. If you want some advice on how to budget while on holiday and how much you should take, look out for my post next week!

How do I budget and actually stick to it?

If you’d have asked me this question two years ago, I’d have to have said I don’t. That however was not healthy for my bank account or my mental health, being in my overdraft and seeing the money in my savings go down would make me worry about how I’d deal with this in the future. Luckily, I started to do a proper budget and learnt how to stick with it. The most important things to look at is what you have coming in whether that is your student loan, wages from a job or both. Once you have worked out how much you have to spend decide whether you will budget per week or per month, personally I do per week so I don’t spend my months budget straight away and anything I don’t spend in that week I can roll over to the next. Once all this is done, follow these tips to properly budget!


Rent and housing bills: paying rent and bills and paying them on time are the most important things when it comes to money. When money comes in put aside the money or pay your rent straight away. As students your loan will come in three chunks, one per term, and so if your rent and bills are being paid once a month it can be easy to see the money in your account and think you can spend it. Personally, I put it in a separate account so that I don’t feel inclined to spend it and it’s there for me when I need it. Once this is out of the way you can work out how much you have left per month. Of course, when it comes to student loans some people’s will cover a lot less than others so you may need to get a part-time job or get financial assistance from parents to make ends meet. It’s also important to note how much you can afford to spend on your accommodation, especially when it comes to uni halls as the prices can differ greatly. Deciding whether it is worth sacrificing other things for an en-suite bathroom when you could save money with a shared bathroom is something you’ll have to think about.  Also, in halls you are usually lucky enough that the bills are included and so you won’t need to worry about this separately, it will all be one payment of rent and bills. 

Food and other shopping necessities: food of course is the next big thing, when it comes to food there are many options to decide from which will impact how much you should budget for this. Personally, I don’t spend too much on my weekly shop as I go to a budget supermarket but then I also tend to get a takeaway or go out for a meal once or twice a month which I will factor into my food budget. The more high-end you go with your food and the more you buy the higher you should budget for this. The best thing to do when it comes to food is work out what you plan to eat in the week and make a shopping list that way you only buy what you need and save money and food by not buying what you will eventually throw away. I find when I shop without a list, I just grab what I fancy even if I won’t get chance to eat it before the use by date. Also, remember when you go to a supermarket you are not just buying food, factor in money for toiletries, cleaning products, stationary and the like.  This is especially important if you are catered, while you food may be included in rent, there will be other bits you need to pick up at the supermarket that you should include in your budget. 

Hobbies: A big part of university is getting involved with student life; whether that is joining a society, playing for a sports team or going on nights out. The reason I put this high up on the list is for a lot of these things I did not realise how expensive were until I got to uni. With sports teams and societies, you usually have to pay upfront at the start of the year which may feel like a big chunk going out of your pocket which is why I’d recommend a separate fresher’s budget. Your first week or two at uni will most likely be your most expensive and so budgeting a lot more for this is wise. It’s also important to remember that these organisations will have things going on throughout the year whether that’s matches, formals or socials, if this is something you want to be a part of this should be added to your budget.  You don’t want to miss out on going out with your teammates or fellow society members because you can’t afford it. The same goes for nights out, if you know that you want to go out multiple times a week you need to budget this so that you don’t suddenly find yourself in your overdraft. 

Treating yourself: as much as I’d love to tell you to treat yourself as much as you feel like it, this is not easy when on a budget. I found the best way to do this is to set yourself goals, if I can save this much money by this date I will go shopping. This could also work by saying, if in say three weeks it’s still on my mind I’ll treat myself. An example of this was when I wanted to splurge on a matching gym set so I told myself if I go to the gym at least three times a week for the next month I’ll treat myself. Not only did this make me feel like I deserved to treat myself, but it also gave me the peace of mind that I was investing in something I’d actually get use out of. 

Savings and emergency fund: As I said before I chose to budget each week and what I don’t spend rolls over to the next week. However, at the end of each month, I will move whatever money I don’t spend into savings or an emergency fund so that I have money for the future or for an emergency. 


Just remember learning to budget can take time and you won’t change your spending habits overnight. Once you start saving money, the joy that you’ll feel in having money saved will far exceed the short-term gratification of receiving a haul of clothes you probably won’t wear in a month’s time. I will add though, remember you’re going to university to enjoy yourself (and to study of course) so find what works best when it comes to spending. You don’t want to miss out on everything because you want to save all your money but then you may struggle later on if you blow all your money at once.  Balance is key!

Travelling as a student

It may seem impossible to have university and travel in the same sentence as students are notoriously broke. However, if you do it properly, you can have an amazing holiday and not have to break the bank. When else are you going to have this much time to travel and have all your friends free at the same time? The way I see it, make the most of the freedom you have as a student. I often look to the future, having a full time job, having a family and other commitments as somewhat constricting. Not only my own busy life, then take into account all my friends will be doing the same and trying to find a week or two for a gals holiday will be next to impossible. I don’t like to have such a negative view point of my future but it does make me want to live my life while I’m still young and travel is a great way to do that. Experiencing new cultures, exploring new cities and spending time with my besties all while taking photos I will forever treasure and making memories I will never forget. As cliché as it sounds there is a whole lot of truth in it.


Now that I’ve given all the great reasons to go travelling whilst a student I’ll get to the money bit. Unfortunately, you’re probably not going have the budget for a month long get away on some private island in the middle of nowhere but that doesn’t mean you can’t have an amazing holiday. Going a bit closer to home can be so much fun; me and my friends have had great trips in Wales and Scotland. There are so many getaways just a (cheap) plane ride away in Europe if you know what you’re looking for, but do remember if you are setting a budget, you’ll end up spending on the actual holiday so don’t splash it all on the flights and hotel! Look out for my guide of how to holiday on a budget, in the near future.


Sadly, my most recent holiday was cancelled by the coronavirus and now may not seem like the best time to be thinking about going abroad. However, planning a holiday for next year will give you something to look forward to, me and my friends are already coming up with ideas and I have something planned at Christmas that will, fingers crossed, still be going ahead.