It’s that time of year when we realise we’ve forgotten to book a summer holiday and try to cram something in last minute: a few days with nothing but your favourite device and the last glimmers of summer sun.
There are two types of holidaymaker. Bucket-listers are happy to go a couple of years between trips so they can save enough for the perfect adventure – elephant trekking in Thailand or a Serengeti safari. Penny-pinchers are content with cheap and cheerful getaways, staying just a few nights but leaving enough in the bank for another trip in six or 12 months’ time.
The rising cost of living has transformed budget travel into an art form. Yes, we envy those bucket-listers who can save for years at a time for a special trip – but we also think there’s something beautiful about roughing it up, just for the sake of getting away.
With that in mind, we wondered how far we could take things. Could you plan a trip for less than £100? We challenged ourselves to do just: to plan a minimum of two nights away with travel, accommodation and a pint of beer all covered. Any fancy extras, like food to eat, would be on top. Here’s how we got on.
We get it, there’s a whiff of childhood holidays about so-called ‘stay-cationing’ – wet days in Whitby and toes out the end of the bed. Yet staying local can be one of the best ways to keep your holiday costs down, and it doesn’t have to be quite as bad as you remember.
We found a glamping getaway for less than £100, staying in camping pods close to Edinburgh within easy reach of all the city’s attractions and the beautiful Pentland Hills. That includes three days’ worth of local bus tickets to get around, plus coach tickets from one of several major cities including Glasgow, Newcastle and Leeds. For our example we’ve chosen a trip out of Manchester, staying two nights from Friday to Sunday in early September.
Pro tip: If you plan your adventure in advance, you can often find camping options off the beaten path for around this price – and coach companies like Megabus and National Express will often have much more attractive prices if you’re booking early. On the accommodation front, Canopy & Stars lists more than 700 glamping options in the UK and Europe, while Airbnb has filters specifically for quirkier retreats. Try ‘houseboat’ or ‘barn’ for something really out there!
A man’s yurt is his castle, so you’re free to vape while you’re camping or glamping. Most campsites will also allow you to vape in outdoor spaces, but always be mindful of neighbouring campers when using your blu device in public. Some campsite owners may let you take a puff in communal areas like restaurants or games rooms, but always check beforehand.
For travellers aiming to keep their costs down, ditching hotels and pitching tents is an ideal way to save the pennies. Unfortunately, most countries have something to say about rocking up and camping wherever you like. Norway and Sweden are among the exceptions – but if the prospect of £7 a pint gets your eyes watering, then why not try somewhere off the beaten track. Somewhere like Estonia.
The country has a strong ‘wild camping’ culture and as well as being able to pitch up on government-owned land, there are also a number of free campsites in national parks and forests. Its capital, Tallinn, is an undiscovered gem but it’s actually further north than John O’ Groats, so the best time to visit is definitely between June and August. If you don’t mind packing an extra sweatshirt or two, we found return flights between Luton and Tallinn with Wizz Air in early September.
The tickets themselves were only £18.49 each way. Unlike some budget airlines, Wizz Air lets you take a 10kg rucksack on board for free, or we could have upgraded for £14 each way and taken an additional 10kg case. If you want to explore somewhere warmer or you can’t make it to Estonia, countries like Slovakia and the Czech Republic have lots of campsites with relatively cheap pitches: we’ve thrown a small amount into our budget to reflect that, as well as the cost of transfers.
Make it £200: Upgrade by swapping out the two-man tent and swapping in a hotel room. Tallinn isn’t the most expensive city, so you should be able to find a comfortable hotel for £60 or £70 a night. Sites like Booking.com and Hotels.com will even offer you secret prices or reward points on your next stay, so long as you create an account with them.
If you’re going away, you’ll want to know if you can take your vape abroad. The answer is often yes, but it depends on where you’re headed. In some countries – like Norway, Australia and Japan – vaping is legal but you will only be able to buy nicotine-free e-liquids in stores. In others, like Mexico, you’ll be able to bring everything with you but you won’t be able to buy e-liquid once you’re there.
Some holiday destinations where vaping is simply illegal include Thailand, Brazil, Singapore, Cambodia, Argentina and Uruguay. There are other, less visited countries that ban the use of e-cigarettes as well as some countries where the situation is unclear, so it’s always worth doing some research before you plan a trip away.
Even on a budget, you can still treat yourself to some creature comforts and explore the continent at the same time. If camping’s not your bag, look for the cheapest flight deals you can find and pair it with a hostel or a homestay.
We found three nights in Madrid, flying out from Bristol Airport at the end of September, all for £89.75. Temperatures in the Spanish capital still average more than 20°C at this time of year, so finding a bargain break on the Mediterranean can offer a real antidote to autumn. The deal we found includes a buffet breakfast, but sharing a dorm with other adventurers – typically with anywhere from four to 12 beds in each dorm – isn’t everybody’s idea of an escape.
If you’re travelling in a larger group, share the cost of accommodation between you. It may be more difficult finding flights for a group booking, but letting a whole house or apartment on Airbnb is likely to save you money compared with booking individual hotel rooms. For a two-night stay, also at the end of September, we were able to find comparable flights and lots of spacious apartments in central Madrid, sleeping four – either together or separately – for the equivalent of £100 each.
Pro tip: Use Skyscanner or Google Flights to find cheap plane tickets, even if you don’t know where you want to go. With Google Flights, you can explore all destinations from your nearest airport and see the cheapest price for the next six months – or enter a set of dates to see how fares look during your week off. You could also sign up to something like Jack’s Flight Club, which emails you flight deals once or twice a week, including some really low-cost adventures to Europe.
Most airlines allow you to take vape devices in your hand luggage, but not your checked-in luggage. This means you can take your vape pen on board but you won’t be able to use it. BA, Easyjet, Ryanair and Thomas Cook all have these rules for flying with an e-cigarette. In addition, airports in the UK don’t allow you to vape once you’re past security, unless you’re in a designated smoking area.
Whether you’re a penny pincher or a bucket lister, we hope we’ve given you the inspiration you need to get away. Once you’ve found the deal that’s right for you, don’t forget to pack your favourite blu device and one of our myblu® liquidpods.
All prices correct 29/07/2019