Spring is here, although it has been rather cold the last few weeks, and that means lots of people are starting to talk about Summer holidays. It is really important to work out your budget and stick to it. Better to have a few nice days at home than a whole lot of credit card bills to pay off long after the sun tan has faded.
In some ways we are lucky as Mr Shoestring and I are not keen on the traditional package holiday to a beach so that means we can enjoy a holiday that others might not consider anything very special. The cheapest holiday is just to book a few days off and stay at home. Take a bus and a picnic somewhere you haven't been before, have an indoor picnic, swap bedrooms, explore sights in your own locality, just don't do any jobs and you will have a fine time !
The next cheapest option is a house swap or staying with family and friends. This is slightly more expensive as you have to travel and you might have to buy a few meals out or a joint experience to thank your hosts. House swapping costs can include joining a swapping website and deep cleaning your house. The last time we did a house swap the people brought their pets and left fleas behind !
Next cheapest option is camping and we have done this a lot. It can be a lot of fun for children and if you get good weather, for adults too. But don't be deceived into thinking this will be a restful holiday, finding all your camping stuff, assembling the camp, cooking and taking the camp back down again are quite hard work. As is checking all the stuff over when you get back !
Next cheapest option is finding a cheap self-catering property in commuting distance of where you want to go. If you don't stay in the heart of the tourist spots this can be very reasonably priced. It is also flexible as websites such as airbnb have made a few nights away very competitive.
Next cheapest option is youth hostels. When we were first married we were very enthusiastic hostellers but now the price has gone up a lot and frankly some of the hostels are not very nice and with a family you will pay more than the cost of a cheap hotel for 1 night's stay. Travel lodge and Premier Inn offer better value for money now if you don't mind picnic meals !
After all these options it starts getting expensive, unless you enter competitions and win a free stay !
What do you do for a holiday ?