I always start thinking longingly about holidays when it starts to get all dark and cold and generally unpleasant outside. However, if you're a student, or you've just stopped being a student, or you're generally not very flush at all, having a holiday can seem like a bit of a pipe dream. But instead of gritting your teeth when you see a 'just off to the Caribbean for two weeks' status on Facebook, why not start planning something budget-friendly and a little bit different?
City breaks abroad
Budget airlines often have deals on, so take advantage of these. Try to go away off-season, only take hand luggage and make sure you don't tick 'yes' for any of the unnecessary airline extras. We all know that plane and airport food is massively marked up, but if you're not prepared you often end up buying it anyway. Take your own sandwiches and snacks.
Before you leave, it's important to do your research so you know the cheapest places to eat and drink (no one wants to be charged four euros for a bottle of water), the free attractions and the most cost-effective ways to travel within the city. When in Paris for three days, the pocket travel guide Berlitz was my bible and it helped me rule out lots of activities and places I simply couldn't afford.
"I managed to go away very cheaply by checking the Ryanair website constantly and booking impromptu tickets to Europe. My advice would be to either be very flexible on dates or book really far in advance." - Holly, student
It might sound like an antithesis, but working holidays can be the perfect solution for those who want to travel without breaking the bank and are perhaps not as interested in the typical sandy beach getaway. WWOOF or Willing Workers On Organic Farms is an international movement of volunteers and vacationers who sign up to help on farms in the UK or abroad, in exchange for free lodging and meals. It's a chance to meet loads of interesting people, to support organic farming in an entirely hands-on manner, and to have a unique kind of holiday experience. Obviously, it's not the best choice if you're feeling burnt out from a demanding job, but for those who want an adventure, it's an incredible opportunity.
"This summer I worked on an organic farm in Norway for a few weeks, organised through WWOOF. My girlfriend and I had heard good things about Norway, but we knew that often when travelling on a shoestring it's hard to get a proper feeling for another country's way of life - you're spending so much mental energy thinking about how to save cash that you don't take the time to appreciate where you are. As wwoofers, we were exposed to aspects of Norwegian culture that we'd never have seen otherwise - their old farming traditions, their small, tightly knit communities, and best of all the good heart Norwegian grub that we planted, foraged, caught in streams, pickled, prepared and cooked. Now I'll never feel like I've really seen a country unless I've lived off the fruits of its lands" - Will, postgraduate student
Staying in the UK
You don't have to go abroad to have an amazing holiday. Camping and caravanning in Britain can provide a budget-friendly alternative, without the need to book flights. Park Resorts has plenty of cheap options, including camping from five pounds per night.
"Avoid tourist traps and look at all aspects of your journey to make sure you get the best deals. If you want to head to Scotland, take an overnight train. The Caledonian sleeper goes from London to Scotland and costs between £19 and £39." - David, writer
It might not all be champagne breakfasts and beachside resorts, but you can definitely have a break, on a budget. Just be prepared to do your research and think outside the box!