You’ve booked your holiday and the countdown to departure is well underway. Whether you are cruising or simply enjoying a short city break to keep you going until your next cruise rolls around, holidays have a habit of encouraging those purse strings to open with reckless abandon. While we aren’t ones to advocate cutting corners when it comes to holidays, there are plenty of ways to save money without even realising. Here are our top money saving tips that won’t take anything away from your experience but will keep the pounds in your pocket.
Stand at the bar
In continental cafes, you will almost always pay more for your food or drink if you are seated at a table (sometimes up to twice as much!). Stand at the bar and you’ll pay significantly less for your coffee or frites, whilst at the same time being far more likely to strike up interesting conversation with a local or a fellow traveller.
Ditch the tourist trap
One minute you’re people watching and soaking up the atmosphere in St Peter’s Square, the next you’re catching your breath after paying €15 for a coffee. When it comes to dining and drinking, simply heading around the corner from the tourist spots almost always yields a much better meal and far cheaper prices.
Avoid train pain
Travellers flying from Heathrow or Gatwick can feel the strain on their purse strings before they even pass through security, thanks to the hugely inflated prices of the Express train services taking you from London to the airport. Ditch the Heathrow or Gatwick Express and take the over ground train service or tube instead; you’ll save around £20 per person for the sake of less than 10 extra minutes on your journey!
Last minute makeover
If you are travelling from Heathrow, Gatwick, Glasgow, Birmingham or Manchester, head to World Duty Free, where you can choose from a whole menu of FREE beauty services. There’s no booking required and with 5-15 minute treatments from the likes of Estee Lauder, Lancôme, Dermalogica, Benefit and La Prairie, you’ll be positively glowing by the time you board.
Don’t ditch the deodorant
Never, ever leave your toiletries at home in favour of buying them on the ship or at the hotel. While the weight in your case won’t be too catastrophic, the damage to your wallet, when you’re paying over the odds for the exact same shampoo that is sat in your shower at home, will. (Take it from someone who once had to pay $17 for a £2 bottle of conditioner the exact same as the one I had left behind!)
Don’t bin the bottle
If you’ve paid for a great bottle of wine, don’t let the quarter or half you haven’t drunk go to waste at the end of your meal. Tell your waiter you would like to save the bottle and he will cork it, label it with your room number and store it safely. You can then request the bottle during dinner in any of the restaurants on board.
Avoid the alcohol sting
Plan on spending your days sipping cocktails by the pool and your evenings with several more in the late lounges? Then a drinks package could save you money. On the other hand, if you enjoy an odd cocktail through the day and a glass or two of wine at dinner, chances are you won’t drink enough to warrant the cost of an inclusive package. Don’t automatically opt for a drinks package.
If you’re travelling with kids, especially those independent enough to want to spend most of their time coming and going alone, a soda package can be both practical and cost effective, giving them the freedom to grab drinks without having to find mum and dad.
Excuse yourself from the excursions
Booking excursions directly with your cruise operator has plenty of benefits; you can be confident that your guides are top notch and if the group is late back, the ship won’t leave without them. That said, ship excursions aren’t always the cheapest option. Go it alone and you can often see the same sights for considerably less, provided you’re prepared to do a little planning of your own.
Scout out a shore side spa
Cruise ships and hotels are home to some of the most luxurious spas around, but little beats enjoying a massage on the beach with sand on your feet and the sound of the ocean in your ear. Spa treatments on board are usually cheaper on port days but you’ll pay even less for a massage on the beaches of the most amazing Caribbean islands.
Start your holiday in style with speciality dining
Embarkation day sees most hungry travellers head to the buffet, however this is actually the best time to sample the ship’s speciality dining venues. Some cruise lines offer substantial discounts on embarkation day and reservations are almost always available at a time to suit you.