Eco campsite in Suffolk
In July we took our trusty supermarket tent to Ling’s Meadow, a small eco-campsite near the Norfolk-Suffolk border, for a short but fabulous vacation. Each spacious pitch has its own picnic bench and fire pit. Eco-friendly facilities include composting toilets, lighting and solar-powered showers. Waking up to the call of a yellow hammer and turning into the screech of a barn owl was my idea of bliss. It is a great base for exploring, including Knettishall Heath, the largest reserve of the Suffolk Wildlife Trust, just eight kilometers away. We plan to return to Ling’s Meadow next summer.
Pitch for two £ 28, lingsmeadow.co.uk
Cycle-camping through the Scottish lakes
Where is further away can you pedal? After a short train ride to Loch Lomond, I cycled 100 miles across three lochs (Venachar, Earn and then Tay) in Scotland, ending up in picturesque Pitlochry. Even though I had problems with my bike, I didn’t pay anything because bike repair stations were scattered along the route. Wild camping is legal throughout Scotland so we didn’t pay anything for that either. The biggest expense became a celebratory drink at Pitlochry’s Old Mill Inn, followed by the train ride home. Word of warning: try to reserve a seat for your bike on trains in the north of Scotland. The cheaper holidays do not require the payment of the hotels, but the freest ones do not involve the journey by car!
Advice from Guardian Travel readers
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Polish classic – Wroclaw
A long weekend in Wroclaw was my happiest vacation to date – how could a city full of little gnomes not be explored? We had to stuff three days of clothes into a small bag, and our room was shaken by the morning trams, but it doesn’t matter! Street art, beautiful architecture and green spaces have made wandering around the city a (free) joy. It was easy to find excellent, inexpensive food, from freshly baked pastries to Polish classics. A trip to the flea market ordered souvenirs and we finished our evenings with (dangerously) affordable cocktails and local beer.
Pedaling quietly, Cotswolds
A cheap and cheerful cycling holiday in the Cotswolds was great for my family last summer, especially as the weather was so dry and hot. Distances between villages are just enough for a leisurely ride and youth hostels are a great option at around £ 25 a night for a dorm bed or simple family room. There is no need to check the news on gasoline costs, strikes or blocked highways. Picnics at local shops and farms allowed us to eat what we wanted for lunch without worrying about utility bills or costs. We also returned fitter and more energetic than normal after a trip.
Interrailing again after 50 years
Fifty years after making Europe cheap from Interrail as a student, I decided it was time to repeat the experience as a senior last summer. The seven days in a month for the over 60s is still a steal at just under £ 300. Trains are more comfortable than some of the 1980s rattles and you still save on hotels by taking exotic sounding night trains like Vienna- Venice or Paris-Barcelona. The latter left at midnight and we enjoyed coffee and churros on La Rambla at 7am the next day without spending £ 70 on a hotel. Some ferries are also included, making the Greek islands doable!
Frugal Seychelles – yes, really
Seychelles is not a popular place for cheap holidays, but it is possible to be frugal. My advice is to get around the main island, Mahé, by bus. It will cost you 12 rupees (73p), while a private driver will cost you at least € 150. They arrive every half hour, but there are stops around the small island. The beautiful beaches are free! sptc.sc/timetable
ways of Essex
We recently stayed on the island of Mersea which was an absolute joy just a train journey from London. Our week was filled with walking on uncrowded beaches littered with pearlescent oyster shells and lined with lovely pastel-colored beach huts, eating lobster on the beach for £ 20. There is also a vineyard to visit.
My best advice would be to use homeexchange.com. We have a mutual exchange with a family in Galicia in late September, exchanging cars and all the comforts of a home away from home. I have had over 40 exchanges and vacations in San Francisco, Arkansas, New Zealand, Australia, Ireland, France (various), Spain and have a one month stay coming to South Africa in November. Our New Zealand exchangers saved us for four more weeks when they got stuck at the outbreak of Covid. It’s a great community – try it out.
North Yorkshire Hostel
YHA Hawes is a fabulous place to stay, whatever the size of the group you travel with. The Yorkshire Dales location offers superb views from the lounge and dining area, the town is meters away with pubs and shops. The friendly staff really makes the stay complete. There are private en-suite rooms and shared rooms, all of which are reasonably priced.
Winning tip: work your way up to a free stay in Spain
I will never forget spending a week in rural Spain, just chatting. I made friends all my life, laughed until my face hurt and immersed myself in Spanish culture, all for the price of a cheap flight. Week-long English immersion programs throughout Spain are always on the lookout for fluent English speakers of all ages and backgrounds. In exchange for your conversation, you will have your room in a posh hotel and eat delicious Spanish food. Stay near the rugged Sierra Mágina National Park, home to vultures and eagles, or the thermal springs of Jaraba, near Zaragoza. No teaching experience is required, just a love of conversation.