The ultimate cheap weekend getaway guide
Everything you need to consider before taking a well-deserved break
Weekend breaks are so much fun that we think everyone should be able to take them whenever they feel the need. The main floor in this plan is of course the too oft lack of cash in order to fund these wonderful jaunts.
Well, the cash issue isn't an insolvable one because if you play it right, you can get away for the weekend for next to nothing, and as we said, everyone should be able to get away for the weekend now and then. We've broken everything down for you here to make it nice, simple and most of all cheap.
TransportHow you travel is going to depend very much on where you're going. If you're just popping to the countryside in your area why not think about a mini cycle tour? I bet there's some lovely places within cycling distance - a getaway doesn't have to mean going far away you'know.
Your other transport options are:
Coach - Although this can be a pretty uncomfortable experience, as you'll inevitably have a travel-sick baby throwing up in the seat behind you, coach services such as megabus make travel to pretty much anywhere instantly affordable. Not only can you get around the UK ridiculously cheaply, they also offer fares starting from £4 to Paris, Amsterdam, Brussels and Boulogne, so there's no excuse not to get out of the country. Be prepared for hours of travelling, but if you take an overnight bus then that's one fewer night of accommodation needed!
Last minute deals - Places like lastminute.com and expedia.com offer some excellent package deals, where you get to stay in some pretty luxurious places for a fraction of the price. For those who like to have everything planned out this may be the way to go, though if you're a fan of slumming it, it's often best to go straight to the budget airlines...
Plane - Know your budget airlines and scour their sites until you find something cheap! There will always be some strange place you've never heard of with flights for £20, though make sure you check exactly where you're flying to - often airlines fly to airports that sound like they're in a certain city, but are actually on the other side of the country. Beware. Ryanair and Easyjet are safe bets for finding good deals, and if you're travelling to Eastern Europe, WizzAir has plenty to offer.
Sleep? Who needs sleep?! - Indeed, the best way to save money is simply not to sleep. This could mean dancing all night, or sat in a late night bar drinking vino until the sun comes up. If you're going for a one night trip and you know there's plenty to keep you entertained, this can be an option - especially if you're clubbing. But you're gonna need somewhere to crash sooner or later on that second day...
Friendly Floors - Take advantage of any friends who are taking years abroad or indeed just people you may know in another country and totally abuse your friendship by bringing all your mates to stay. Alternatively, you can try using sites like couchsurfing and stay on a complete stranger's floor for free!
Camping - For those who don't mind getting a bit muddy and/or being serenaded by cows mooing whilst falling asleep, this is a lovely cheap way to spend the night. Just make sure that wherever you're staying has shade (if it's sunny), and good firm-ish ground (particularly if it's raining).
Hostels - It's easy to find cheap hostels almost everywhere on the continent (though for some reason almost impossible to find cheap ones in England...), with sites such as hostelbookers.com being absolutely invaluable in finding great deals.
City break - Loads of the cheap flights will be going to big
cities such as Paris, Amsterdam, Prague, Berlin, etc. These are
places where you are guaranteed a good time, with great nightlife and plenty to keep you busy, but tend to be slightly more expensive in
terms of food and drink.
Camping trip - Relive your Duke of Edinburgh experiences with a
solid camping trip and some walking across mountains and fields, or
if you want something more exotic, try taking your tents over to some islands, for example in Croatia. There are plenty of camping sites on a lot of these islands, meaning you can pitch up right by the sea -
Off the beaten track - Check out these 5 cheap European destinations
you've never considered, and try to think outside the box - many of the cheapest places for accommodation and food/drink are found in parts of Eastern Europe and have yet to become too tourist-y.
Food & Drink
Supermarket binge - Wherever you go, the supermarkets are where the bargains are, so rather than giving into temptation when you pass a McDonald's, hold out for the supermarket and go absolutely wild. Stock up on bread and fillings, and plenty of booze, and you should be sorted for your whole holiday.
Booze - Before choosing your destination, it's always worth checking the price of a pint, for example on pintprice.com. Different countries have different tipples of choice, and although beer can be found relatively cheaply throughout Europe, it's definitely worth trying some of the various local liquors, many of which can be pretty lethal... For example, in Gdansk's Café Absinthe, their special brand of absinthe can only be sold once a night per customer due to its incredible strength...
Clubs - It's always worth checking out the clubbing scene before you leave, particularly if you're planning some all-nighters. Most importantly, check the prices and whether or not you need your passport on you.
Once you're at your destination, it's always worth getting some advice from fellow travellers and also thinking about pooling resources, sharing costs etc.
So there it is. Don't ever let something as silly as CASH get in the way of a weekend break. Best of luck in organising your cheap escape, here's to many, many more.