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How to Have a Cheap Holiday in the UK this Summer!

Jennifer Birtles 9th Jun 2024 5 Comments

Reading Time: 7 minutes

Updated 9th June 2024

How to have a cheap holiday in the UK this summer.

Although in Britain we may not have guaranteed sunshine throughout the summer months like most of our European counterparts, we do have an abundance of historic cities and beautiful landscapes. From weekend breaks staying in cityside B&Bs, to getting away from the hustle and bustle whilst exploring the countryside, there are plenty of ways to keep costs down and have a cheap holiday in the UK.

Ditch the Hotel

Go camping for a cheap holiday

The UK offers plenty in the way of free activities, from countryside walks and hikes in the highlands to relaxing weekends spent on beaches. The UK has 15 gorgeous national parks to explore, and over 7,000 miles of coastline to see, which make exploring the country’s landscapes a perfect holiday getaway.

To fully immerse yourself in the countryside, camping is the perfect way to keep things cheap and get a true authentic experience.


Spending a holiday under canvas is the simplest way to save a chunk of money on holiday, but it can also become part of the adventure and magic of the trip. It’s a perfect getaway whether you’re after a peaceful solo weekend, a group outing, a family adventure, or romantic couples trip.

Many campsites also allow dogs, so you can take your pooches with you – which is a great way to save on kennel costs, too!

Find out lots of camping hacks for a truly budget vacation here.

Pitch prices vary depending on location and time of year, but they can cost as little as £8-10 a night, per person. If you are camping during a busy season consider choosing a campsite slightly further away from the main tourist sites in the area for even better prices.

Wild Camping

In Scotland, you can legally wild camp. This means you don’t have to camp on a set site, but instead can pitch up in any suitable area. You can’t do this on private land without the owner’s permission – but with so many forests and national parks, you’re not short of places to wild camp. It’s a great way to get into the true Great Outdoors – and saves money on pitch fees, too! Be aware that in the summer months, there are some restrictions around places like Loch Lomond between 1st March and 31st September each year so make sure you check whether you need a permit.

Wild camping isn’t legal in England, Wales, or Northern Ireland. Some areas, such as the Lake District and Dartmoor, have a ‘blind eye’ policy if you follow the basic rules (arrive late, leave early, leave everything as you found it, and stay no more than one night in the same place). Countryfile has a useful list of wild camping places to try across the UK.

If you know another spot you’d like to wild camp, find out who the landowner is and ask their permission to camp there. Don’t just rock up and pitch up: ask in advance, and get to know the landowner so they can see you’re trustworthy and will leave everything as you found it.


Glamping is another option. It’s still rather cheap but with a bit more luxury for those not quite at home under wet canvas. With glamping, you have better facilities like a private hot shower and fully functioning kitchen.

PitchUp is a great website dedicated to finding cheap camping and caravan parks, also showing users the nearest walking routes, bike hires, activities, and pubs! Campsites is another easy website to use to search for cheap camping sites for pitches, touring, and glamping. All in all, camping is hard to beat at keeping things cheap.

Alternatives to Camping

Caravaning is a great cheap holiday

Finding alternative accommodation is one of the simplest ways to save on holiday. Hotels are notoriously expensive and really not worth the money when there are plenty of other options available. Even if you want a city-based break, you’ll find lots of options such as nearby caravan parks, in-city guesthouses, and other options that get you away from expensive hotels.

Caravan Parks

Like campsites, static caravan sites offer budget holiday accommodation for couples and families. This option costs a bit more, from around £20 a night depending on the number of people the caravan sleeps and what facilities it offers.

You can hire a caravan pitch for your own, or hire a caravan out for the week or weekend for around £40 a night (depending on size and location). Find out how to have a cheap caravan holiday here.

This might be a good time to invest in a caravan. See what we say about potentially buying a caravan here.

B&Bs and Guesthouses

Farm stays, B&Bs, and guesthouses are other alternatives on offer. Still cheaper than hotels, you have your own space and facilities and a bit more comfort then in a tent! It’s also a good way to explore new places without risking the questionable British weather. The options are also ideal if you want to explore cities rather than the countryside, too.

Try Air BnB, local Facebook groups, and FarmStay to find alternatives to camping – for both countryside AND city breaks.

House Swap

To save TONS of money, you could always house swap! Normally, this is done internationally – but you can do it in the UK, too. Obviously, this is subject to making sure your home is fully cleaned and safe for any visitors, as many people are asking for that. However, house swapping is a great way to save lots of cash and see new places. Read our full article about house swapping here.

Hire a Canal Boat

If you want to explore the beautiful Norfolk Broads or the 4,700 miles of canal networks in the UK, a boat is a brilliant way to have an explorer’s holiday without leaving our shores. Did you know the longest canal is the Grand Union Canal, which is 137 miles long and goes from London to Birmingham? It takes around 72 hours to navigate non-stop!

Walking Hostels

If you’re a big fan of the outdoors and the camaraderie that comes with hikers across the UK, plan a walking trip. You might want to do just a long weekend on the main peaks or scaling Snowdon, but you could take on a longer holiday with a coast-to-coast or 100-mile coastline trip. Walking hostels are a cheap way to spend the night under a solid roof to get a proper night’s rest, but they’re basic – so it’s a step up from camping. YHA hostels are some of the best to try.

Save Money on Travel

Avoid any unnecessary travel costs. For example, if you’re driving to your destination, fill up your car before setting off as the fuel at your local petrol station will be cheaper than at petrol stations along motorway routes. Supermarket petrol stations are definitely the cheapest around.

If you’ll be travelling for a long period of time, pack a picnic and snacks for the family as station and services cafes and shops tend to have extortionate mark ups on their products and you’ll end up paying a lot more than you should. Remember to take reusable water flasks like Sho flasks, to save on costs – many places will refill them for free and it’s better for the environment.

Research other travel options that may be cheaper. If you’re travelling without kids or have light baggage, public transport is a good alternative to consider. It may be just as convenient as driving but prove to be a cheaper option. It is also worth investing in a railcard if you’re eligible and plan to take either several rail trips or one big expensive one.

Omio is a useful site for planning a route by public transport and comparing cost versus time. If you are travelling by public transport, booking well in advance, travelling at off-peak times, and investing in a rail or coach card will all make your travel cheaper.

Peak Times Mean Peak Prices

Get a cheap holiday with off peak tickets

Avoiding the school summer holidays and bank holiday weekends as much as you can will save you from buying into the price increases at these times of year. Although if you’re a family with children this is much harder to avoid.

Holiday prices often drop by between 10 and 15% from the last week of August and into the beginning of September so timing your holiday right could get you better deals.

Also consider taking your big family holiday during the Easter holidays next year instead. Generally the UK gets nice, sunny weather around this time and the prices will be cheaper as well. Next year, Easter 2025 falls almost right at the end of April (20th) which improves your chances of good weather.

Do your research before you travel and check out if there will be any big events going on whilst you hope to be there. Things like football matches, big concerts, or race days will unfortunately whack the prices up on accommodation in the area and you could end up paying a lot more.

Try Something Different

Cities like London, Oxford, and Bath are all very popular tourist destinations but more expensive than some other UK cities. Northern England and Scotland have some amazing places worthy of visiting that are great city breaks but without the large price tag. Liverpool was revealed to be the best value city break in the UK! While other great options include Manchester, Newcastle, Sheffield, and Aberdeen.

Further Tips to Save You Money

If you’re on a super-tight budget but really need to get away this summer, try these tips to save more cash.

  1. Why not rent out your home whilst you’re on holiday? You can sign up for AirBnB easily to host your home and have some extra money coming in whilst you’re away.
  2. First time camping? Borrow the camping gear from a friend or family if you can before you spend hundreds on stuff you may not use very often. If you have to buy though, make your purchases out of season for much better deals.
  3. Make the most of deals and cashback. Websites like lastminute.com usually have some really good deals available so it’s worth signing up to see what you can get. Another idea is to use cashback sites like Quidco when booking your holiday as you can receive up to 13% back.
  4. Make use of age-related discounts. You’ll need to keep your ID on you but being under 18, a student, or over 60, means you can benefit from discounted entry fees and travel passes.
  5. Make your home a holiday destination with a little creativity. If you live in or near a city, explore it as if you’re a tourist – and you could benefit from a local resident discount, too! Or take day trips into your nearby countryside to get into nature. Remember that the National Trust and English Heritage both have plenty of free sites to visit.
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2 years ago

Interesting article. I prefer quieter places and I’m not a crowd or city person – I much prefer the countryside and less busy places!

3 years ago

The UK is beautiful to explore.

Last edited 3 years ago by Joanne
3 years ago

Great article.

4 years ago

Can’t wait to travel again! This article got me excited for the future.

4 years ago
Reply to  Tom

Hopefully it’ll be soon! For staycations in the UK, at least 🙂

Jasmine Birtles

Your money-making expert. Financial journalist, TV and radio personality.

Jasmine Birtles

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