UK Staycation: 7 Money-Saving Hacks for Couples

With Lockdown 3.0 slowly creeping its way into the UK summer-time and foreign travel still appearing as a massive question mark to those in charge, a staycation might be on the cards for many couples this year.

Lockdown certainly changed our travel plans! We had trips to Paris, Berlin, Oslo, Sicily, Rome, Naples and North Macedonia all cancelled within the space of this disastrous past year. We stuck it out as long as we could with the burning hope that we’d make it abroad before we move to China, but in the end we gave in to the temptation of a staycation.

Our trip to North Wales was one we NEVER would have considered in pre-covid times (does anyone even remember those days?) But we had the best time and made some beautiful memories within a pretty tight budget (we literally couldn’t bare the thought of spend too much on staying in our own damn country).

Here is a list of things that you can do if you want to save money during a UK staycation:

1) Bring your own food!
Before you say it, I know, I know…who wants to cook when they’re on holiday? However we worked out that on our last long weekend trip, we saved at least a whopping £150 by simply taking our normal food shopping straight from the kitchen fridge to our holiday home.

We calculated this by using the following average spends from when we eat out:
Breakfast: £5.00 e.g. McDonalds or Greggs meal deal
Lunch: £3.50 on meal-deal e.g. Subway or supermarket deal
Dinner: £20.00 on take-out e.g. Dominoes, Chinese, Indian including drinks and sides
Treats: £10 on coffees, teas, local must-try foods, beers etc.

For two people that means…
£38.50×2=£77.00
£77.00 x 3 full days = £231.00

The food shop we took with us came to £40 and we spent a further £40 on one take-away and local recommendations such as cheese and beers.

What’s more is that we even managed to get our 5-a-day in every day! This is simply because we had control over what we had available to eat. When you order on the go, it can be so hard to make healthy choices, so this is an ideal option for fussy eaters or those on a restrictive diet (we are neither – we just wanted to save money!)

We wanted to make sure that our breakfasts and lunches would be super quick and easy to prepare so we included things such as the following:
Celery and carrot sticks with dip
Apples, bananas, grapes and tangerines – anything that didn’t require any prep!
Multi-pack crisps
Cheese, ham and crackers
Cereal bars
Individual yogurts -again for ease of prep.

This may seem like a lot of preparation but we literally took what we would normally buy on our weekly food shop so it didn’t feel like anymore effort.

2) Have picnics
In relation to point one, we made sure to bring such easy foods so that we could quickly shove them in a bag ready for the day ahead. Every day you can choose a different picnic spot on the go and spend lunch time in a beautiful location which is totally free!

Obviously, for this to work you need to remember to pack the following:
Food bags or foil
Tupperware boxes of varying size
Large refillable bottle
Plastic bag for any leftovers/rubbish
Blanket (optional)

We used to be massive foodies and would have easily spent 70% of meal times in restaurants. Not necessarily expensive ones but it is crazy how much it can eat into your budget even in the places that are considered “cheap”. However, lockdown has certainly changed our perspective. We would now, hands-down, rather have food outdoors or sat huddled up in the car in new and beautiful surroundings than cramped into a busy restaurant.

Which brings us to the next point…

3) Take your car
Instead of taking the train or bus (let’s be honest, buses are pretty useless in the UK anyway) drive yourself to your destination.

As a couple, you will save so much money by not buying two return tickets. Buses and trains rarely get you close to where you need to go anyway and then you’ll end up paying extortionate prices for taxis- or worse, having to drag your suitcase to your final destination.

Don’t get us wrong, we absolutely love taking the train and being able to stretch out, read without getting travel sick and watching the scenery go by. However, in the UK, the cost simply outweighs the benefits on this one!

Also, you can drive about at your leisure and discover wonderful places for your picnics. You will have the freedom to come and go as you please.

Useful Note: use google maps to locate a car park for your selected location for any day trips. Once you arrive, simply drive on a little further and search for free parking instead which can usually be found road-side. Then you will know exactly where your location is and hopefully be able to avoid parking charges. Obviously, be prepared to walk a little further than normal.

4) Use an air bnb instead of a hostel
Hostels are always praised for being the backpackers best friend. We get it, you want to experience real traveling even if it is a staycation. However, if you take the time to look into it, you’ll usually find that the hostel option is not entirely couple-friendly.

Aside from the obvious, hostels are designed for cheap accommodation for the solo traveller. Many UK city-centre hostels charge at least £15 per bed per night. Obviously being a couple, you will need to times this by two, and with £30 per night, you may as well get yourself an air bnb so that you can stay together in privacy.

5) Speak to your air bnb host
These people are there to be spoken to! The whole point of air bnb is for travellers to feel like they are having the real home-stay experience in their selected location. The best way to access this experience is to ask questions to a local; the obvious choice? Your host!

Simply ask about free things to do in the local area or ask for more specific advice once you have done some research on what you’d like to do. They may be able to offer some insider knowledge.

Some ways we saved money by chatting to our hosts were: finding out that the local town was allowing free entry to historical sights on certain days of the week, being offered to eat dinner at the host family’s expense, providing free lifts, offering advice on where to eat cheap but good local food.

Having a great relationship with your host will allow you to make the very most of your trip. On our last trip, our host was kind enough to allow us to meet her new born lambs. You will end up having totally wonderful and unexpected experiences.

6) Make full use of outdoor spaces
Something we all must have gotten better at during Covid times but still very important when traveling the UK on a budget.

This is an obvious one but plan your trip around hikes, visiting natural beauty spots, cycling and star-gazing and you will have a much more budget-friendly trip than if you plan around visiting the best restaurants and planning shopping trips.

7) Take things to do with you
The items you choose to take will totally depend on your personality and what you want to get out of your trip.

Do you have a book you’ve been meaning to read but never seem to find the time?
Is there a new hobby you’d like to try out such as; painting, sketching or writing?
When was the last time you and your partner played a board game?
Is there a new recipe you’ve been wanting to try together?

Take the time to reconnect and make the most of your staycation!

We hope that you have enjoyed this list of things to do to save money when traveling as a couple in the UK. If you have anything to add to this list that you and your partner enjoy when traveling, please add it in the comments section below!

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