We can’t afford a summer holiday - or can we?

Sarah Coles
British summer holiday
British summer holiday

The annual summer holiday has become a casualty of the horrible squeeze on living costs. We have become a nation of people trying to make the best of a bad job, with 55% of us being forced to holiday in the UK and forego a fortnight in the sun this summer.

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Over half of Britons said they are holidaying at home this year because it is too expensive to go abroad and a Staycation break offers better value for money.

Some 53% will go to the seaside for a break - with Cornwall, Devon, North Wales, Blackpool and the Isle of Wight at the top of the list of popular destinations. Meanwhile, a third will spend a week in the country - with the Lake District, Scottish Highlands, Norfolk Broads, Yorkshire Dales and Peak District taking the top spots. And 27% of adults are taking a city break this summer with London, Edinburgh, Bath, York and Oxford being the top destinations.

The study also revealed that nearly half of Britons are taking a one-week holiday supported by three short breaks throughout the 2017. Just 17% of adults are taking a 'traditional' two-week holiday.

It highlighted the places where residents were most likely to be set for a staycation.

1. Aberystwyth - where 85% will take a staycation
2. Gloucester - 82%
3. Sheffield - 72%
4. Plymouth - 71%
5. Worcester - 67%
6. Belfast - 66%
7. Norwich - 65%
8. Bristol - 64%
9. Chelmsford - 63%
10. Cardiff - 62%

Unfortunately, even a week in drizzly Britain doesn't come cheap. The study, by Travelodge, found that we spend an average of £599.80 on our annual break. This is actually a pretty dramatic cut from the same time last year - when we spent £130 more. However, it's still a major blow to any household budget.

Before booking your travel and accommodation, therefore, it's well worth exploring the shortcuts to a cheaper staycation - assuming you've ruled out a budget-friendly camping trip.

5 tips for a cheaper staycation

1. Talk to family and friends about a house swap
If you are prepared to visit a house swap website and swap with strangers, you can take your pick from any destination and see if you can swap your home for free holiday accommodation. If that approach seems a bit of a stretch, then why not talk to friends and family? Those in a city might enjoy a rural break, while those by the seaside may relish a few nights in the city. It's always worth asking.

2. Consider a working holiday
There are plenty of options - the National Trust alone has 200 to choose from - from cleaning beaches to gardening. In return for working with a like-minded bunch of people, you get cheap accommodation and free food too.

3. Get voucher-savvy
Vouchers, supermarket points, discounts when you travel by rail, online booking savings, coupons from food packaging: they'll all save you a fortune on days out. Supermarket points can even be spent on hotel stays. If we put as much research into a staycation as we do to a trip abroad, we could all stand to save hundreds of pounds.

4. Try alternative approaches to hotels
There are a couple worth trying. First is the secret hotel, run by the likes of Hotwire and Lastminute, which let you book based on location and the number of stars, in return for a discount of up to 40%. The second is bidding for a room, which can be done through Priceline, where you can name the price you are prepared to pay for a certain number of stars in a particular location, and this will be submitted to the hotel to see if they agree. They may reject your offer, and you may need to raise it, but when a cheeky offer gets accepted, you could save a fortune.

5. Try a hostel
The Youth Hostels Association has some stunning accommodation, and a lot of family rooms, so it's worth exploring whether you can get hostel accommodation in your chosen destination. You can stay for a small fraction of the cost of a hotel - without compromising on cleanliness or security.