Want to plan a holiday this year but worried that the pennies won’t stretch? We all need to treat ourselves to a little time away every now and again, whether it’s relaxing with a cocktail in hand on a sunny beach or soaking up some atmosphere on a city break. However, holidays are often the first thing to go when money is tight. If you’re dying to get away but don’t have loads of cash to spend, take a look at our top tips for planning the perfect holiday without breaking the bank.

To package or not to package?

One of the most difficult decisions for the budget-minded holidaymaker is whether or not it’s cheapest to choose a package deal. Largely, this depends on the sort of holiday you want. For example, for breaks within the UK, package deals including accommodation, transport and often extras like attraction entrance fees or tickets to shows can work out far cheaper than booking all of these things separately. However, when travelling abroad, they’re not always necessarily the cheapest option. For example, while an all inclusive deal might be great for a group of friends wanting to avoid the expensive cost of alcohol on a fun holiday away, a family of four might do better to avoid the all-inclusive rate and opt to feed themselves instead. Similarly, if you’ve decided on a destination it’s worth searching for flights separately and checking sites like booking.com for deals on hotels to see if you can create your own package for a cheaper price.

Choosing the right destination

We all dream of jetting off to an exotic location for our holidays, but if you’re on a tight budget options like the Maldives or the Caribbean are probably out of the question. It is still possible, however, to get some winter sun without breaking the bank. Destinations like the Canary Islands have an excellent climate all year round, and offer plenty of budget accommodation to choose from. It’s also worth checking out ‘unpopular’ destinations – for example, countries like Greece or Tunisia often suffer from negative reports in the news, but many of their holiday resorts are hundreds of miles away from areas of conflict and are perfectly safe to visit. Eastern Europe is also a great place to pick up some bargains – while countries like Croatia have lodged themselves firmly on the tourist map, other destinations like Bulgaria and Macedonia offer sunshine and an interesting cultural scene for incredibly cheap prices.

Getting more for your money

If you’re planning on a visiting a city for your holidays and want to take in some of the top attractions, all those entry fees can add up to an expensive trip. Instead, why not consider buying a sightseeing card such as London Pass for an up-front fee? These cards can be great value for money if you plan on visiting lots of places – all you do is purchase your card for a one-off cost and enjoy free entry to all the city’s top attractions. They often come with additional extras too, such as free guidebooks and discounts on travel and dining out, and can be purchased for several major cities around Europe. It’s also worth doing some online research to find out what deals or offers apply during your visit – finding a buy one get one free entry offer or a special deal in a local restaurant can make a huge difference to the final cost of your holiday.

Where to stay?

If you’re not going on a package holiday, think about your choice of accommodation could save you money. We’ve already advised shopping around for the best deals on hotels, but if you don’t mind roughing it a bit there are plenty of great budget options. Hostels have come a long way since the days of providing a flea-ridden crash pad for desperate students – now most have WiFi and other mod cons, and many offer private and family rooms for far cheaper than you would find in a hotel. In the UK and Europe, camping is also a fantastic way to save money. If you can’t quite face the thought of a week in a cheap pop-up tent there are plenty of ‘glamping’ options available where you can still enjoy luxuries like a hot shower and even a proper bed. Or, for the ultimate cheap holiday, why not chuck a tent and a camping stove in your car and head to Scotland? Thanks to their wild camping laws anyone can set up a tent in the beautiful countryside and stay the night completely free of charge – just make sure you clean up after yourself and act with respect to the environment.