There are two ways to do a staycation. You either stay at home entirely and explore your own town. Or you take a vacation without leaving the country. This post is about the second option. I’m all for UK holidays, and they don’t have to include Butlins or Center Parcs (unless you want them to). Of course, there are UK holidays that can cost more than going abroad. But we’re going to focus on how to have a cheap UK holiday by having the best staycation.
There are three main expenses for any holiday. The travel to get there, the accommodation and your food. To work this all out, the first place I start when planning a UK staycation is deciding where I want to go. If you’re looking for some location inspiration then try my post on the best rural vacation spots in the UK and the best city breaks in the UK.
Budget UK Travel
The cheapest way to get around the UK is on a coach. I’ve used MegaBus more times than I could count. It’s a great way to get between cities, I’ve been from Cardiff to London, Birmingham, Bristol and even Edinburgh on the coach. Admittedly, it’s not the most comfortable for a long journey but it is the best for the planet and will definitely help you keep within a budget.
The second cheapest option is usually to drive. If there are several people going on the trip then this will probably work out cheaper than coach tickets. This does depend on how far you’re going and whether you need to factor in the cost of hiring a car as well. It’s worth looking at trains but they are notoriously expensive so I wouldn’t count on it being the best option for a cheap UK holiday.
Budget UK Accommodation
I almost exclusively use Airbnb when I travel anywhere. If you haven’t yet signed up, use my affiliate link to get £25 off your first stay. We use Airbnb because it almost always works out as the cheapest option. It also gives you a lot more freedom than staying in a hotel. The key to finding affordable Airbnb’s (as there are plenty of luxury places too) is to look in the right location. I usually find that the cheapest places to stay are either in a city that has a lot of listings so everyone is competing to have the best price, or out in the middle of nowhere. So it depends on what you’re looking for.
As a general rule to keep prices low, stay outside of national parks, book out of peak season and keep an eye out for new listings. We’ve had a couple of bargains before when a new listing puts their initial pricing low to get visitors and gain reviews. It’s also a good idea to explore less popular places if you’re not too fussy about the destination.
This isn’t something I’ve tried myself but there are also ways to get accommodation completely free. Try couch surfing, house sitting or doing a home swap! Trusted Housesitters is a popular website to find places you can stay for free in return for looking after someone’s house and pets whilst they’re away. I’m going to be looking into this more when we plan our next holiday and I’ll definitely report back if we go with this option!
Budget UK Food
The other reason that Airbnb (or any self-catering accommodation) works out cheaper than staying in a hotel is that you can make your own food. Just head to the supermarket (or take food with you) and get cooking. We usually eat out at least once during a holiday to experience the local cuisine. Eating in even for one evening would save you money versus going to a restaurant.
It’s always a good idea to have a look at restaurants online before you go so you can check out reviews, as well as the prices. I always do this as I’m vegetarian so I like to make sure they have an option I like. But it’s a great way to stick to a budget for a meal too. If you can’t be bothered to cook but really don’t want to spend much, head to the local chip shop. We love some good chips from a chip shop, they’re always a cheap hot food option!
You’ll find even more staycation ideas in my post on How to Enjoy Travelling When You Can’t Travel. What are your tips for a cheap UK holiday?