Holidaying in the UK is growing in popularity, but always check out prices

THE end of the school year is usually the cue for an escape from the UK but recent years have seen a rise in the popularity of domestic breaks. More than a third of Scots intend to holiday at home this year, according to research by Travelodge.

The rising cost of flights and the strength of the euro against the pound are contributing factors, although the biggest influence this summer is likely to be the pressure mounting on household finances.

The domestic holiday option isn't always a money saver, however.

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The average week-long break in the UK will cost an average of 489, including 250 on accommodation, Travelodge estimated. Rising fuel prices and above-inflation increases in the cost of rail and bus transport are also having a considerable impact on the affordability of domestic holidays. Rail fares have gone up by almost a third in the last five years, while fuel prices have soared to record levels in the past six months.

Yet there are several ways to cut the cost of travelling in the UK, whether you're taking a holiday or just a summer day out. Here we look at train, car and air travel and pick out the best ways to save money.


Shopping around is vital when you're looking for flights, even if you're only flying elsewhere in the UK. If you have flexibility on times and dates you can pick and choose the best deals. Websites such as allow you to compare the flights offered by different airlines at a particular point in time, saving you the hassle of searching each individual site. But when you've found a deal, check the airline's own site before you book in case it has a cheaper offer.

Gavin Littlejohn, chief executive of, said: "Booking directly and well in advance can offer the cheapest method of gaining a reasonable price for train and air travel. It also helps to check out some of the aggregators, like CheapFlights and SkyScanner.

"There may be alternate and cheaper ways to execute the same journey."

You need to be sharp when it comes to actually paying for your flight too. Domestic flights can be cheap but the short-haul specialists are very skilled at making you part with more cash than necessary. Double-check at the booking stage that you aren't paying extra insurance, car hire, additional baggage or priority boarding fees, among others, unless you want them.

And don't forget travel insurance - strikes, airline failures and last year's ash cloud chaos have all highlighted the value of cover in recent years. It's usually best to search online for insurance rather than accepting the cover offered by a travel agent. Make sure the amount of cover is appropriate and check for exclusions. If you travel several times a year, multi-trip insurance is likely to prove most cost-effective.


Anyone who's tried to pin down the cheapest price for a train journey knows how frustrating and downright perplexing it can be. Undercover research by Which? earlier this year even found that three in five station ticket staff don't fully understand their own pricing structures.

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And it's not surprising, with different train companies using different ticket names and pricing policies and varying definitions of what constitutes peak and off-peak, with some having no clear peak times and others starting their peak periods in mid-afternoon. There can be a wide margin between peak and off-peak fares, so flexibility in when you travel can prove useful.

Buying well in advance and avoiding peak times is the closest to a sure-fire way of getting a cheap deal, although there are still the various permutations to work out. Train tickets go on sale 12 weeks in advance. Some travellers, particularly those who fly regularly, are in the habit of trying to snag last minute deals, but same-day fares on trains tend to be extortionate.

The rail travel booking website,, now has an improved Best Fare Finder function, designed to help travellers find the cheapest tickets on the UK's most popular train journeys.

Groups can make savings by booking as a block, as some companies offer a discount. For example, Virgin Trains, which operates the West Coast Mainline, cuts 10 per cent of the fare for the third passenger in a group of between three and eight people, provided the first two adults pay an advance fare.

Railcards can also produce significant savings if they are used regularly.

National Rail's family and friends card offers discounts for up to four adults and four children, while senior, 16-25 and disabled person's railcards can cut prices by up to 34 per cent across all UK rail operators.

Split-ticketing, where you buy different tickets for the different legs of a journey rather than one ticket covering all of it, can also prove cheaper.

There's nothing illegal about it and you don't even have to change trains, so it's worth taking the time to compare costs. Similarly, buying two singles rather than a return can be cheaper, especially if one part of the journey is off-peak and the other isn't.

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The main rail ticket websites can be found at and Also check the websites of the individual train companies, as they may run special promotions.


If you're hitting the road this summer you'll probably pay extra attention to fuel prices after seeing the cost of unleaded soar to an average of 137p and diesel to 142p. You don't need to go far to see the variation in prices between provider and area, particularly with the supermarkets embarking on a fuel price war.

By visiting you can search for the cheapest fuel in your area, your destination and all points between.

The site, also available as a smartphone app, allows you to enter your location to compare fuel prices in your area and identify the lowest cost option. You can also slash the amount of fuel you need to get buy through a few simple measures. For example, if you've got a roofrack but you're not using it, take it off to reduce drag.

Keep your tyres at the right pressure and in good condition and try to minimise the weight of the vehicle, perhaps by getting rid of an unnecessary baggage, to reduce the amount of work you car does. If you're hiring a car you can now compare costs online instead of going to the first company you think of.

Websites including and enable comparison of the prices offered by most of the main providers.

Another way to save on car hire is to arrange excess insurance, as the insurance offered by car hire firms - typically to cut the excess - is usually expensive.

Car hire insurers including - which can also be contacted on 0844 826 6565 - and (0844 892 1770) are among the market leaders.