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Top 20 travel hacks and money saving tips

You may be skint, but you can still holiday in style; here's how.

Fancy lazing on an exotic beach, or jetting off on a last-minute city break, but not sure you’ve got the funds? Check out these tips on how to stretch your holiday spends.

Earlier this year, Skyscanner teamed up with Student Money Saver to ask readers what their top tips for travelling on a budget were. Here’s the winning entry, plus a round up of some of the best answers we received:

1. WINNER:

Pack a sun hat. It serves as a fashion accessory, doubles as a sick bucket, forms a Frisbee, masks a bad hair day, weighs down flip flops, moulds sandcastles, reserves sun loungers, shields iced drinks, catches spiders, stores toiletries and hides valuables. Now how much are all those little holiday luxuries worth?! The price of a hat!

Brown sun hat, sunglasses, suitcase on bed.

2. Be flexible – flights may be much cheaper on some days when people prefer not to fly, like Christmas Day.

Read more: 6 tips to finding the perfect flight using Skyscanner

3. Go local – Use local markets for food, get restaurant recommendations from people who live there, find out about standby tickets for shows or events and use public transport.

Read more: 10 ways to avoid looking like a tourist

Garlic prawns, rice and salad in a box.

4. If you’re studying, always ask for student discount; they may not advertise it but they may offer it.

5. Check currency rates well in advance – getting currency converted at a better rate can save you loads of cash.

Read more: 10 ways to get the best deal on your travel money

Stacks of one euro coins.

6. Book a hotel with a decent breakfast and, although it might cost a little extra at the start, stuffing your face first thing in the morning or making sandwiches to take with you for later could save you money on lunch.

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7. Take lots of holiday snaps – photos are priceless souvenirs of your trip. Enter them in to travel competitions and you might just win flights or another holiday for free!

Chinese woman taking a photo with an SLR camera.

8. Go on a free city walking tour – they’re a great way to get your bearings in a new place, and some even offer free snacks or drinks.

Read more: 20 free things to do on a city break in Europe

9. Pack light so you don’t have to pay for checked luggage. Don’t be afraid to wash your clothes, reducing the number of outfits you need to take with you.

Read more: 15 of the best packing tips ever

Woman in white dress holding 2 old fashioned blue suitcases.

10. Avoid organised paid for excursions – why pay to travel in a cramped mini-bus full of tourists, be told when to take photos and be generally herded around? It’s often cheaper to take local transport and stay for as long as you like.

11. Rent a bicycle for the day and just go exploring. You’ll have fun finding new places and you’ll get some exercise too.

Woman cycling through a wooded park.

12. Don’t take toiletries, buy them when you arrive – there’s less chance you’ll need to pay for excess baggage and you won’t have to bring it all back at the end of your holiday either.

Read more: 10 best backpacking tips and tricks

13. Check out the suburbs – prices in shops and cafés are usually lower, plus you’ll get to see where the locals hang out, away from the tourist haunts.

Read more: 50 insider travel tips & tricks – what we’ve learned about travelling

View across rooftops, Ljubljana, Slovenia.

14. Take an empty plastic bottle in your hand luggage and fill it up at a water fountain in the airport for free refreshment.

Read more: Skyscanner’s 20 top airport tips

15. Take a re-sealabe sandwich bag to store your mobile phone in and protect it from sand on the beach, saving you money on having to buy a new one when it gets damaged during that game of volleyball!

Cayo Coco, Cuba, white sand beach, palm trees.

16. Get yourself a piggy bank, save all your loose change and it could add up to a healthy holiday fund just before you fly.

Read more: 20 money-saving travel secrets

17. Make friends – get group discounts on tours, have people to split restaurant bills with and get free places to stay in other countries, plus you’ll hopefully have a laugh at the same time.

Read more: 10 tips for surviving a group holiday

Group of friends taking a selfie on beach.

18. Use Skyscanner – search ‘Everywhere’ and you’ll get a list of flights to all destinations, cheapest ones first. Set up a price alert to keep an eye on and price changes to your chosen flight, or simply use our tools, to find a great deal on hotels and car hire.

For more tips on getting a bargain using Skyscanner, read these articles:

Get the best air fares with our Price Alerts feature

Find cheap flights with our Best Time to Book tool

The Skyscanner guide to finding last-minute flights

Skyscanner tips and tools – the ‘Everywhere’ search

Skyscanner is the world’s travel search engine, helping your money go further on flights, hotels and car hire.

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