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Student holidays on a shoestring

By Rachel Gerrish, University of Sheffield

Monday 11 June 2012 Style

Here’s a handy guide to the top destinations and tricks of the trade that mean you can holiday like a prince on a pauper’s budget.

We’re all feeling the pinch right now, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get away for less this summer. Here’s a handy guide to the top destinations and tricks of the trade that mean you can holiday like a prince on a pauper’s budget.

Top tips
To get you started, try looking online. Many of these holiday websites don’t charge a booking fee, and they don’t have overheads from a shop to cover, so won’t make you pay over the odds – you’re already saving money!

Last minute deals
Depending on how spontaneous you are, why not book a last minute holiday? Lauren Jackson, who studies accountancy at the University of Exeter said: “My best friend and I were just browsing at holidays online, and we saw a really cheap late deal to Lanzarote – we booked it there and then and flew out two days later. It was so spontaneous; it was the best holiday I ever had.”

Be flexible on the destination
We’re not all as impulsive as Lauren, but if you have a rough idea of when you’d like to go on holiday, but don’t really mind where you end up, it can sometimes be worth waiting until very close to your intended departure date to book the holiday.

Iain Bradley, a civil engineering graduate from Leeds Metropolitan University said: “My family do it every year and it saves us so much money – last year we went to Mexico for a fraction of the price it would have cost at the travel agency.

“We all just make sure we’ve got one particular week booked off so we know we’ll be going on holiday. Not knowing where we’re going until the day before adds to the excitement.”

Try to avoid school holidays
Be aware of the school holidays, as this may affect the price of your holiday. If you can, try booking your holiday in June or late September to avoid the mid-summer price-hike.
Top destinations

Whether you plan to book online or in a shop, last minute or in advance, you’re going to want to have some idea of where you’d like to go.

Sun holidays
• Spain’s mainland is a popular choice for both the party-minded and the cultural elite, offering sea, sand and sangria for the sun-worshippers, and stunning architecture and a rich heritage for the sight-seers.
• Malta is bustling with life as one of the world’s smallest states (and most densely populated) but is suited more to those who want a relaxing holiday rather than those who want to party.
• Ibiza – the Balearic sunshine and world-class nightclubs make this the all-year party island.

City breaks
City breaks are becoming increasingly popular, so we take our pick of the best:
• Barcelona, Spain – full of beautiful architecture and bustling street markets, Spain’s capital city also has the bonus of an annual average minimum temperature of 21 degrees (lucky Spaniards!).
• Amsterdam, Netherlands – a city steeped in history, mixed with the notoriety of the red light district and green cafes makes this an interesting visit.
• Bruges, Belgium – take a canal boat trip to soak up the Flemmish culture and admire the stunning Gothic architecture.

The UK
If travelling abroad isn’t your thing (or like some of us, you’ve forgotten to renew your passport), there are plenty of places in the UK to keep you busy this summer.
• London – with the capital still riding high on Jubilee spirit, soak up some of the atmosphere with the many free activities that the city has to offer, such as spending an afternoon in the Natural History Museum or getting lost in quirky Camden Market.
• See a show for free – many websites such as Standing Room Only organise the audiences for television shows such as Mock the Week or Alan Carr’s Chatty Man, so if you fancy a funny night out without the stand-up price tag, this is definitely worth checking out.
• Theme parks and attractions - make the most of 2-for-1 offers and go halves on entry price for a fun day out.