by Nick Trend from The Telegraph, July 20, 2017
It’s the start of the school holidays - one of the busiest of the year when hundreds of thousands of families hit the road, the airports and the ferries en route to the continent. There will be a lot of excitement in the air, but a few stresses too.
No doubt at the back of many minds will be a faint anxiety about costs. We haven’t seen a summer with the pound as weak as it is now (it’s currently worth about 1.13 euros compared with 1.43 in 2015) since the financial crisis.
Sure, the majority will have already paid for their travel and accommodation up front. But, if you aren’t on an all-inclusive deal, the biggest chunk of most people’s holiday spending budget is the cost of eating and drinking. So how do you best make savings without feeling as though you are scrimping and saving when you really should be enjoying your holiday? Here are six ways to cut costs and still have a great time.
1. Save on breakfast
If your hotel room rate doesn’t include breakfast, check out the local cafes instead. They are bound to be cheaper - I’ve yet to find a hotel which doesn’t charge a premium for a simple coffee, orange juice and croissant.
2. Eat with the locals
The most obvious sign of good value in a restaurant in a popular holiday destination is a high proportion of locals to tourists. You don’t need me to tell you how to spot the difference between the two, but generally speaking the trick to finding the best examples is to turn a few corners. Walk away from the seafront or main square and suss out the back streets. You may not get the best views, but you’ll probably find better food, a more convivial atmosphere, and you will certainly end up with a lower bill.
3. Don’t over-tip
I’m not being mean to waiters and waitresses here. Generally speaking the culture on the continent is to pay them properly, and include a service charge in the bill. If you are feeling generous and have had particularly attentive service, you could round up with a few euros, but you don’t need to add ten or 15 per cent, and if you are unsure no-one will be offended if you ask whether or not service is included.
4, Drink local wine
I’m not sure if it can be scientifically proven, but most wine and food experts believe that regional wines and food cultures are complementary: cooking styles, grape varieties and wine-making traditions have been adapted over many centuries to taste good together. So I always make a point of following that logic - locally-produced wines are nearly always cheaper, there is invariably a better and bigger selection (the waiter or proprietor may even know the grower personally), and you can have a of fun testing the local food-local wine match theory.
5. Prop up the bar
Of course, you may want to settle in and watch the world go by from a cafe terrance, but if you are just after a quick beer or pre-prandial drink then perching on a bar stool and ordering direct from the barman will cost you a lot less than having your drink served at a table.
6. Sit down for lunch
It doesn’t suit everyone, but if there is ever a time when you can enjoy having your main meal, and a glass or two of wine, at lunchtime rather than in the evening it is surely when you are on holiday. So take advantage of midday set menu and you can easily halve the cost of eating out - especially if you are treating yourself to a meal at a more expensive gourmet restaurant.