Lifestyle & Wellness

5 Alternative holiday ideas if money is tight

Alternative holiday ideas
Photo by Artem Kovalev on Unsplash

If it feels like everyone around you is off on holiday (or vacation!) but you’re on a budget then don’t despair, you just need to get creative and take a look at your options. There are plenty of alternative holiday ideas to consider if money is tight, but you need some rest and recuperation.

During the pandemic, many of us found ourselves with plenty of annual leave but nowhere to go! Even if you stayed in your home country, local hotels and airbnb’s were charging 2 to 4 times their normal rate!

Now we can travel and it’s wonderful, but if you’re strapped for cash, you might still need to consider alternative holiday ideas to keep costs down. Alternative travel ideas are available to you if you’re flexible.

Some of you will be lucky enough to live near beautiful parts of nature, or by cultural hotspots so make the most of your time and visit places you never feel you’ve had time to. Or think about who you can crash with to make the most of their local area…

1. Explore your local area or another part of the country

Yes, the good old staycation. Some of us have got very good at this since the pandemic! But it doesn’t need to be about staying at home and getting your life admin and chores done. You need to get outdoors and explore!

Imagine you are a tourist in your own town/city/village/neighbourhood. What would you show a friend that came to visit? If you’re lucky enough to live somewhere super interesting or beautiful, it won’t be hard to make a list of things to do.

Or if there are places you want to visit a little further out, you could arrange some day trips. I’m always amazed by how I can be at the beach, a new city or a little village after only an hour or two on the train out of London.

If you have the time and inclination, you might take a full week to visit another part of your country or visit friends and family further afield. I’m sure there are parts of your own country you’ve never got round to fully exploring.

2. Be a house sitter or pet sitter

There are organised companies that offer this so see what’s available in your area of choice. Don’t let Man vs Bee put you off! You could also reach out to friends and family that might appreciate you house-sitting, watering their plants and taking care of any pets.

Put a shout-out on social media if you don’t have any leads as friends of friends might need a house or cat sitter. This is a brilliant way to stay in a lovely home and get to explore a new area.

Make sure you plan for this to allow time for registration and matching at a timeframe that works for you. Housesitters UK is an option if you are in the UK, but most likely you have a few local options in your home country.

Bookmark this for later!

Alternative holiday ideas

3. Do a house/flat swap

Again, this can be via an organised company or website or via friends and family. If money is tight, this is a really good way to experience a change in environment either close to home, in another part of your country or even overseas!

Put the word out in advance so you can organise this to work well for your time off. Ask a friend or partner to come with you, if it’s allowed, so you can explore somewhere new together.

Some house swaps work well for a family as we all know that travelling as a family is super pricey. So if the accommodation is covered like this, that’s a game changer. Read first holiday a baby or travelling with a toddler beforehand!

And if you’re alone, well, I can’t guarantee it will be like The Holiday but you could have your own adventures…See my post for travelling alone. This is a really good option for alternative ways to travel.

4. Visit a friend overseas

You know how you make new friends from overseas and they often say, “come visit me in my country”? Well, get in touch and see if they really mean it! If your accommodation is covered and you can crash with them, then your main expense will be flights, so check the cheapest time to travel beforehand.

Your friend will be able to show you the best of the local area too, so you’ll experience so much more of that country. I’ve always loved visiting friends overseas and getting to know where they are from and learning more about them.

And if you’ve got the space, you can offer them to come to yours in return next time. If they live in a tiny place (like me!) or can’t accommodate you at theirs, they may be able to suggest a cheap alternative accommodation idea to keep costs down.

When I was in a flatshare, we used to closely coordinate things so when one of us was away, the other could invite their friend so we had the spare room. See what’s possible for you or your overseas friends without it being a burden.

Alternative holiday ideas
Photo by Eilis Garvey on Unsplash

5. Time your booking well if you want an overseas bargain

If you’ve got your heart set on going overseas then you need to be strategic. This can mean either booking well in advance for the best price e.g. a year (not my style, but I know others that get great prices by planning this far ahead) and avoiding school holidays of course.

There are also some last minute holiday bargains to be had. I got lucky with this myself recently. We booked 36 hours before leaving, but I appreciate not everyone can be that flexible so work with what’s possible.

Sometimes last minute flights can be extremely expensive but there can also be flight and hotel packages on offer because the hotel doesn’t want the rooms left empty. If you can be flexible within a few days and about your destination you might just find something.

If you want to pack light and have it all fit within a carry-on or first learn about the essentials for a capsule wardrobe, read the posts for crucial advice beforehand!

Alternative holiday ideas will let you escape your routine

So, there are some alternative holiday ideas if you are desperate for a break but strapped for cash. Taking time off doesn’t have to involve huge expense if you think creatively and use opportunities around you. The mission is to relax, recharge and enjoy the time off work.

The above ideas certainly aren’t free but there’s a wide price range. Staying close to home is obviously the cheapest option, followed by day trips, then flight only and in-country expenses (if your accommodation is covered or discounted) and then finally a price-reduced holiday package, if you can be flexible.

Hopefully the above has given you some alternative holiday ideas if you want to find a way to enjoy your annual leave out of your home, especially if you already work from home and need to get out of there and change things up!

If you feel you are too busy at work to take a holiday, read the post on how to plan effectively beforehand so you can relax and take time off. It’s crucial you take the annual leave you are owed as otherwise you could be at risk of burnout, read more if you feel you’ve been overdoing it at work.

Let me know if any of the above has given you some alternative holiday ideas if you can’t afford a luxury get away but dreaming of a change in scenery. Have you had luck with any of the above yet?

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Alternative holiday ideas


  • Karalee

    These are great suggestions and a staycation is always a good idea because you most likely haven’t seen everything in your area and it doesn’t cost much to visit a nearby city either.
    I also didn’t know that house swaps were a thing

  • Jenny in Neverland

    Some great suggestions here. Think we’ve all been in that situation where we’ve really needed a holiday but can’t afford one. You can get some really good deals though and exploring more of your local town/city, even just for the day, can be a great alternative!

  • Courtney

    We visit the UK from the East Coast of the US once or twice a year (or did before the pandemic). We were just able to make it back to Northern Ireland (and the Republic) in June. The secret is flying off season! Everything is far cheaper–flights, accomodation, car rental. We learned that it’s a great idea to visit at half term because there’s so much for kids to do. My daughter is in elementary school now, which makes it a bit harder with school schedules, but we plan to apply for educational leave for her to travel, which we can do for up to 10 days per year. We travel in winter quite often–nothing is as crowded, and we figure it’s no colder than it would be at home, so we just bundle up and make the best of the weather.

    Staycation wise, part of the reason we decided my husband would take his current job was because we’re now in the mid-Atlantic and there’s so much to do within a five or six hour drive, and in this area we have some train service. We haven’t completely been able to take advantage of all the opportunities nearby due to the pandemic, but I’m looking forward to doing more now. I’ve just booked a tour of our local historic theater for my daughter and I at the end of the month.

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