Is it possible to have a dreamy beach holiday on a budget?

These days, having the perfect beach holiday often feels like a pipedream, simply because of the cost involved and the strain on our wallets. Well, I'm here to tell you that escaping to a sunny paradise for a week or two is still possible - but you need to be smart when it comes to planning. For some practical tips on how to have a beach holiday on a budget, please read on.

Before you leave 
The good news is that there are lots of simple ways you can save money even before you set foot on a plane. You will need to be prepared to put a little time in, but it's well worth the effort considering you'll get a great break at the end. Some of the key steps to remember are:

1) Choose a low-cost destination and/or cheap travel dates: This is a crucial element of any cheap break. To get a good deal, you either need to travel off-peak (or find an incredible offer for the busy season!), or search for a destination that costs less than average to stay in. Plus, it's also worth considering how much things will cost while you're there. For example, flights to Barcelona can be pretty cheap, but the food there is often expensive, so you need to look at how your spending will pan out over time.

Some websites offer useful tables to help you find the best deals, so take advantage of them. For instance, you could be able to check destinations and dates, finding out

a) the cheapest time to go to your chosen location, or

b) see what the cheapest place will be for your preferred dates.

2) Book your flights and hotel separately: 
Yes, I know everyone makes a big thing out of package deals that group your flights and hotel together, but are they really all that? If you book separately, you gain the freedom to choose the lowest prices on travel and accommodation, which often means you can nab better deals than packages can offer.

3) Choose a hotel close to the beach and other attractions: 
You should also choose a cheap hotel on the beach or one that's nearby (since you'll probably be spending a lot of time there!) and close to any other attractions that catch your eye. This way, you won't fork out too much on transport. Of course, you should make a rough estimate of the costs involved with travel and getting a hotel in a good position, just to make sure you're doing the right thing budget-wise.

4) Go all inclusive: 
All inclusive deals can be an absolute godsend when you're trying to stick to a budget, since things like drinks and meals will already be paid for. Search for a hotel that suits your individual needs, though, to make sure you're not paying a higher total price for extras you won't use.

While you're there 
Of course, there are also plenty of ways to save money once you arrive. For example, most destinations have a host of free attractions, so it is worth finding out either from your hotel or the local tourist office where these are. Plus, such places also often have money-off vouchers they can give you, which is always a bonus! If you're well-organised, you could also try to book tickets for shows or other attractions in advance, which might net you some savings.

Meanwhile, since you are likely to be spending a lot of time on the beach, it's a good idea to work out ways to save while there. A handy option is packing extra towels and using these to sunbathe on, rather than forking out for sun beds. Also, bring drinks and snacks with you to avoid paying premium prices at beachside cafes.


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