Paying for a holiday has become difficult for lots of families at the moment. Not only has the economy been severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, but the travel industry itself is in turmoil. As job losses mount up, many are focusing solely on covering their household bills and squirrelling away enough cash to help them through the winter months.
On the other hand, it is the long summer holiday and with our kids having spent an unprecedented amount of time out of school and away from their friends, giving the kids some sort of break is just as important – not least to protect their mental health. Before the Corona Virus struck, many parent strove to take their children away at least once a year. Creating family memories is really important.
So what can we do?
Cut back on spending as much as possible
If you sit down and go through your day to day expenditure, you’ll probably be surprised at just how much can be frittered away without you really noticing. Few of us have the discipline to monitor every single expenditure but creating a household budget is never a wasted exercise.
Firstly, it’s important to note that most families waste a fortune every single month. That happens because they don’t think hard enough about the purchases they make. You’ll find some ideas for curbing your impulse buying in this post.
Food is a big expenditure for lots of us but there are ways you can save on feeding the kids during the summer holidays.
What about travel companies that allow payment instalments?
Some travel companies allow people to pay for their bookings in instalments – either on a pay monthly basis or, alternatively, with a low deposit so you can secure your holiday. All of which seems like a good idea were it not for the fact that you will pay a hefty APR for the privilege. To give you an idea, Lastminute.com are charging an APR of 29.9%. That’s not such a cheap trip.
With the travel industry currently severely impacted due to COVID-19, you’d need to be extremely careful if you want to travel abroad – both due to the financial security of the travel companies and the ever-changing quarantine rules for countries in Europe and farther afield. Jobs are being cut left right and centre – British Airways, Hays Travel, EasyJet to name just a few.
You can find ABTA’s latest advice for international travel here and it doesn’t make for optimistic reading.
Then there has been the news that some companies have been digging their heels in when it comes to issuing refunds. More excellent advice can be found on Martin Lewis’s Moneysavingexpert site.
All of which makes the prospect of travelling abroad a decidedly dodgy proposition – even if you can find someone to take your booking and actually deliver your holiday.
Have a staycation – explore the kids’ home country
Many would agree that a staycation at home in the UK is a much safer bet. We have some beautiful places on our own shores. Arranging a camping trip or something similar could ensure the children get a well-earned break. In most instances, the little ones won’t care about seeing the sights – they just want to spend time with their parents.
That doesn’t mean, however, that a UK staycation is cheap. Far from it. Rumour has it that accommodation in tourist hotspots such as Devon and Cornwall is booked almost up to September 2021! It has also been a boom time for Airbnb properties.
Your best bet is probably to scour the budget hotel websites to see if you can find any deals on accommodation for last minute travel. A quick Google search for Budget Hotel Deals UK reveals plenty of options still available if you are quick off the mark. Just make sure you know exactly what you’re paying for and check out their cancellation and refund policies.
You’ll find that the number of rooms available may be reduced to adhere to social distancing and yes, you will likely have to wear a mask in public areas.
You might also find deals on sites like Topcashback.co.uk or with subscription dining cards such as Gourmet Society and Tastecard. Experience companies like Buyagift.co.uk and Redletterdays.co.uk may also have some offers for short breaks.
Don’t forget to check supermarket loyalty cards too like Tesco Clubcard.
Stick to day trips
Many of the UK’s tourist attractions are starting to reopen, although you will need to book tickets online and observe social distancing when you are there. Generally, we have found toilets are available but no dining, just takeaway food. It’s just as easy to take a picnic.
We recently visited Sudeley Castle in the Cotswolds and are planning another trip to Berkeley Castle next week. Bristol Zoo and Clearwell Caves are also on our list.
At least with a day trip you have a lower financial outlay and if you do need to cancel it’s not such a heavy financial loss – although the kids will be disappointed.
You may be yearning for the beach but, having seen the pictures of Bournemouth Beach, Camberwell Sands and Durndle Door in Dorset, I think we’ll be giving the sands a miss for quite some time to come.
A sand pit and a sprinkler in the back garden are cheaper options!
Finally, I think it’s important to explain to your kids the reasons why you can’t go on holiday and reassure them that they will be able to go a little later on (hopefully!). Kids are pretty astute at grasping these things and we parents have enough to feel guilty about as it is.
Have you got any suggestions for cheap and cheerful holidays in these uncertain times? Let us know!