If there’s anything we can learn from the recent heatwaves throughout the UK, it’s that summer is very much here.
But the last few years have presented more than the usual share of obstacles when planning for a summer holiday: a cost of living crisis, travel industry disarray, and an ongoing pandemic.
But fear not – your summer holidays can still be saved by discovering ways you can make savings on your travels. Choosing some of Europe’s more affordable and underrated locations as your next travel destination can help you reduce your holiday spending further.
Read on to find out about five lesser-known holiday destinations and gain some useful tips for saving on your summer travels.
1. Avoid major Mediterranean tourist destinations and don’t be afraid to “down-star”
If you’re looking for a warm, Mediterranean holiday destination this summer then look no further than Malta.
The island is often overlooked for more well-known Mediterranean destinations along the Iberian, Greek and Italian coastlines.
However, Malta is home to stunningly well-preserved historical architecture and plenty of sandy beaches with crystal-clear blue waters. The island is a wonderful mosaic of British, Italian, French and Greek cultures. Valletta, the capital city, is a UNESCO World Heritage site and is home to endless beautiful limestone buildings.
As with most Mediterranean destinations, prices are higher in the summer months, but with the right planning it is possible to secure return flights to Malta for less than £100, budget accommodation for £60 a night and enjoy the island on a daily budget of less than £80.
Choosing to “down-star” on your accommodation can help you make savings, with some travellers saving 45% on average by opting for four-star properties over five-star, and a further 30% between four-star and three-star.
Finally, if you want to see some real savings benefits, you could decide to travel off-season with prices for flights to Malta dropping below the £40 mark from late September onwards and the cost of hotels being heavily slashed.
2. Travel to destinations that haven’t been hit by tourist price hikes, making sure to travel on the right days of the week
Greece has always been a very popular travel destination. The result is, of course, that prices are typically high during the summer months.
Despite this, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to cross Greece off the potential travel destination list. There are parts of the country that haven’t been as routinely explored by tourists and where prices haven’t been inflated by the peak summer destination market.
Argos (not the catalogue retailer) is a small city in southern Greece’s Peloponnese region. The city’s historical harbour looks out on the Aegean Sea and the city itself is home to ancient ruins from a variety of European empires.
Decent hotel accommodation can be found for as low as £30 a night and flights can be found for just over £100 in late August and early September.
The biggest savings with international flights can be made by booking three to four months in advance but, even with last minute travel, selecting the right days to travel on can be beneficial. Tuesdays are typically considered the best day to travel with, flights being nearly 10% cheaper and accommodation being 15% lower.
3. Going to winter destinations off season offers summertime savings
Český Krumlov is a labyrinth of medieval buildings and quirky streets, situated in the Bohemian region of the Czech Republic. Built around the city’s Krumlov castle, it is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site because of its well-preserved Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque architecture.
The city is located between the bank of the Vltava river and the foothills of the Bohemian Forest. Its mountainous terrain makes it especially spectacular in the winter months when it is often blanketed in snow.
However, being a winter destination also makes it a very opportune place to visit in the summertime when it is far less popular. While accommodation costs and daily expenses drastically reduce, the city is far from dead, with the streets coming to life with live music and cosy cafés. Even though it’s a city usually visited during colder weather, the summer brings about daily temperatures that reach the mid-20s.
4. Packing light and choosing a “green” holiday can cut costs
Bihać is a small city along the banks of the river Una in northwest Bosnia and Herzegovina, close to the Croatian border, and is perfect for an outdoor adventure.
The city is surrounded by lush valley scenery, waterfalls, hiking trails and the Una National Park. If you’re looking to take in nature or go for a bike ride, there’s plenty to see. There is even a route that takes cyclists from the centre of town right up to the Sokolac Fortress which has great views of the landscape.
The local government has spearheaded several initiatives to clean up the surrounding lakes and rivers and there has been a boom in eco-tourism. For example, the Japodski Otoci hotel allows guests to sleep in high-end huts and bio-domes that are built into the surrounding forest.
Green holidays not only offer savings with more affordable styles of accommodation but also benefit from the “premium backpacker” lifestyle. Your adventures aren’t likely to need heavy luggage and you will probably get away with a well-packed carry-on bag for your getaway.
Reducing your luggage not only avoids any additional charges with the airline but also avoids issues arising with checked luggage. Industry experts expect the amount of luggage that will be lost or delayed on arrival to continue to rise during this summer’s ongoing travel industry crisis.
5. Consulting price comparison sites and ensuring you have the right travel insurance can save you money, and prevent losses
Marmaris, on the Turquoise Coast of Turkey, not only hosts some of the most photogenic coastlines in Europe but is also markedly cheaper to visit than other hotspots with the cost of meals, drinks and essentials being very cheap, partially due to the Turkish lira’s ongoing struggles.
There is plenty to do with family-friendly beaches and local providers that offer scuba-diving or snorkelling trips.
Turkey can be an unpredictable place to visit at the best of times, let alone with ongoing regional conflicts.
That’s why it can be additionally beneficial to make sure you have the right travel insurance in place to cover any last-minute cancellations.
Opting for flexible accommodation could also save you money in the event of an emergency rather than choosing non-refundable options. Consulting the government website before confirming plans can avoid any unexpected issues.
Make sure before making any final travel plans that you’ve done all your research. Consult travel websites for the best possible deals and maybe consider making some new memories this summer along the road less travelled.