Spain on a Budget

I’ve got some spare time so thought I’d write an update on an upcoming holiday to Spain.

Things are good as I’m on annual leave at the end of next week. We’re flying out next Sunday to Spain for 12 days to just relax, enjoy the food and swim in the sea.

‘But wait!’ I hear you say. ‘You said you’re saving to travel the world, how can you afford a holiday?’

The trip will cost us less than £400 (approx. $520 USD) each, all in. This includes flights, getting to the airport, accommodation, food, renting a car, fuel, spending money etc. This is down to a mixture of circumstance and making budget-conscious decisions. It’s not a package holiday and we’re still going to see and do a lot of things. So here’s how we’re having a holiday in Spain on the cheap; a low cost Spanish holiday you could say.

1. Charity Starts At Home

Rosie’s relatives have a place an hour north of Alicante near a town called Javea. We’re fortunate to stay there for free and so will be saving over £200 (approx. $260USD) on accommodation (usually the greatest expense of a holiday). We’ve also chosen to fly from Birmingham instead of Bristol as the flights were over £100 cheaper (approx. $130 USD) despite Bristol airport being 40 miles closer to where we live! Rosie’s family live near Birmingham and her dad has been kind enough to offer to drive us to and from the airport. This allows us to save on airport parking costs; I was quoted over £100.

javea
Javea, Spain

So right there we have reduced the cost by £400 (parking, flights and accommodation).

2. Cheapest option with Air Con

After flights, our next greatest expense is the car. It came to £160 for 12 days. This is necessary as the place we’re going to stay at is out of town; it also means we can go to local beaches not on the bus route (less busy). We went for the cheapest manual option with an airport location. This added an extra £30 compared to the ones based off-site which you travel to via shuttle bus. We’ve done this before, and didn’t like it. It was in Greece and was my first experience of driving on the opposite side of the road, when we arrived at the airport we had to wait nearly an hour for the shuttle bus to arrive and then wait another hour whilst everyone was processed. This left us paranoid for our return journey (would we miss our flight?) and so to save the stress we’ve paid an extra £30 and have airport pickup. Simply, walk to the desk, sign some forms, get the keys and walk to the carpark to pick up the car. We could have upgraded to a bigger car for and extra £50, another £50 on top of that and we’d have a sun roof. But where do you stop?  The car is small, yes. Nonetheless, it’s big enough for the two of us, has aircon, unlimited mileage allowance and will be fairly economical due to its size. Having a car also enables us to drive to the local supermarket and buy our own groceries.

Javea lidl.jpg
Javea, Lidl

3. Eating In is the New Eating Out

This is another area where we will reduce costs. We’re planning to spend no more than £120 on groceries (including alcohol). To do this we’ve agreed to limit our meals out to one. This is the maximum and so we may decide to not eat out at all. Wine in Spain is incredibly good and incredibly cheap. But go to a restaurant and it can be 3,4,5 times more expensive, especially in touristy towns. It’s a similar thing with food. There are definitely bargains to be had, but they’re still more expensive than buying from a supermarket. The plan is to buy lots of fresh veg, meat and bread (lots of aioli too!) and cook/prepare tasty meals. We’re taking a supermarket freezer bag and will pack our lunches into this when we head to the beach or go on a day out. Fortunately, alcohol is incredibly cheap, which is good as Rosie has recently acquired a strong taste for red wine!

4. Hit the Beach

Another area we’re planning to reduce spend is on activities. We’ve both been working a lot over the past few months and so are quite happy to relax for the majority of time in Spain. I’m going to use it as a break from heavy lifting at the gym and will take some resistance bands to do rehab exercises. We’ll be going to the beach quite often and so are taking our own goggles. Often, these are things forgotten when packing and you can end up paying a fortune for a pretty poor quality product. I did this last year when I forgot to pack swimming shorts and ended up forking out £50, whereas I could of bought a pair for £10-15 back home. In addition, we can do day drips to historical sites or just trips into the hills. We did this in Portugal and discovered some really fantastic places. It also gives you a chance to interact with locals. This should mean that our spend on activities is negligible; possibly only fuel and a couple ice creams.

Portugal
Earlier this year in the Algarve, Portugal

5. Buy Insurance Separately

Lastly, just a quick point about insurance: buy it separately. We bought annual travel insurance last August for less than £30 and will be using it again for this trip. The same is true of our car insurance – it was bought for less than what was on offer from the rental companies. Just have a look at a comparison website.

We could have done this cheaper; not hired a car and bought a package holiday for 2/3 of the price. But I know we wouldn’t have enjoyed ourselves as much. We learnt this in Southeast Asia: cheapest is not always best. After the perils of crossing from Thailand to Cambodia we splashed-out and spent almost double the price for a ‘luxury’ bus from Cambodia to Vietnam. This amounted to less than £5 each… a fraction of our budget. But it meant we rode in an air conditioned bus with comfy seats and were fast-tracked through customs while the less fortunate waited for hours in the stifling heat.

And why not? You only live once. That’s it. A brief glimpse at some of the ways we’re utilising to holiday in Spain for cheap.

I’m planning on giving an update in Spain; quite possibly from a sun lounger by the pool!

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