With the current economic climate, holidays are the last thing on most of our minds. But when times are tough getting away from it all can be more important than ever. And it needn’t cost the earth. Long-haul flights are surprisingly cheap and the pound still goes a fair distance in certain countries. Doing it on a shoestring is all about embracing your spirit of adventure.
ESCAPE TO THE SUN FOR £48.26
SUN AND SEA GETAWAY
Known as the land of 1,000 islands, Croatia is an increasingly popular destination for tourists. With its unspoilt coastline, pristine national parks and sunny Mediterranean climes (up to 35ºC in the summer), it’s not hard to understand why. The pound is still relatively strong against the Croatian kuna, meaning holidays here are very good value. Croatia is family friendly, too – with lots to keep children occupied including all manner of watersports.
Return flights from London Stansted to Zadar cost from £48.26 in June. Visit www.ryanair.com Save even more by getting to the airport from London’s Liverpool Street station on the Stansted Express for £27 return. Visit www.stanstedexpress.com
CULTURAL GETAWAY FOR JUST £113.98
EUROPEAN CITY BREAK
The capital of Hungary, Budapest, is a cultural haven of stunning art, architecture and general ambience, where locals still outnumber tourists. Hungary has its own currency, the forint, meaning the pound still goes quite far.
• The Great Market Hall
• The miles of caves under the Castle District
• The Hungarian State Opera House (standing-room tickets less than £2)
• The annual wine festival (www.winefestival.hu)
• The therapeutic hot springs of Budapest (www.spas budapest.com)
Return flights from London Luton to Budapest on Easyjet start at just £113.98 in June. For more details visit www.easyjet.com
Renting a holiday home
Emily Todd, a 25-year-old teacher from north London, rented a country cottage with 11 friends for one week
‘My friends and I decided to rent a cottage in England for the New Year period. Our reasoning was that we’d probably spend as much on hiring somewhere for a week as we would in one night on New Year’s Eve in London – and we were right.
‘We found an amazing farmhouse in Bridport, Dorset, which slept 12 people and cost only £120 each – all in.
‘It was a beautiful old building with original beams and real fires, a games room and a heated indoor swimming pool!
‘The whole week was fantastic – it was so relaxing and we were only a 20- minute walk away from the sea.’
CAMP IN STYLE FOR UNDER £10 A NIGHT
Camping attracts young and old alike who want a fun-packed holiday that won’t break the bank. Family camping is great fun, but is usually best confined to specific sites where amenities are on hand to keep kids clean, fed and entertained. Standard campsites start at around £9 per pitch. Wild camping – pitching your tent in the middle of nowhere – is best left to the adventurous. In England it’s confined to Dartmoor, but it’s legal anywhere in Scotland as long as you keep away from dwellings and roads and leave no trace of having been there.
For a range of family friendly campsites in the UK visit www.campingand caravanningclub.co.uk
FIVE NIGHTS OF FAMILY FUN FOR £650 (ALL IN)
Canal boat holidays are one of the best ways to enjoy the UK as a family – as long as your children are over seven. Kids will love getting involved, whether helping you negotiate locks or cook in the tiny onboard kitchen. And you’ll get to enjoy some quality time together while watching the beautiful British countryside go by.
Boats sleeping five cost from around £650 for five nights. Check out www.silsdenboats.co.uk
RELAX IN AN UNSPOILT PARADISE FOR £5
Backpacking isn’t just for students – if you’re keen to experience the subcontinent on a shoestring, you could do worse than heading for the tiny island of Diu. Located at the southern tip of Gujarat, a stay here promises calm and relaxation on unspoilt beaches, free from western tourists. And it’s remarkably cheap, too, with accommodation around £5 a night.
It’s possible to fly directly to Diu, but the cheapest way to get there is to fly to Mumbai – prices start from around £350 return on Qatar Airways in June – and then take a bus or train which only costs around £3. Visit www.qatarairways.com
Money sense… You can often get some fantastic deals on hotel rooms if you book right at the last minute. Check out www.laterooms.com for deals in England – at the time of writing, rooms in the 4* Radisson Edwardian Mountbatten in London’s Covent Garden are going for £115 instead of £375.