The Mancunion

Britain's biggest student newspaper

Get away for a weekend

Feeling blue about being stuck in Manchester? Why not book yourself a weekend away; here’s some tips on how to make it as cheap as possible

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As your average perennially penniless student, I’m no stranger to grand dreams of a weekend away in far-flung lands being crushed by the reality of a bank balance. The summer after my second year, however, when I travelled abroad sans parents for the first time, I discovered that hope is by no means at all lost. In fact, I now firmly believe that great travels can be had by anyone, even with the tiniest of budgets.

It doesn’t come without a little effort or extra open-mindedness in searching, though. Usually the most effective way to shrink the price involves a little bit of planning beforehand. Don’t get the wrong idea, you don’t have to turn your weekend away into an authoritarian regime, unless January 20th got the US on your itinerary. All it means is that when you start out, you should aim to be flexible about everything you do and measure up your priorities against your budget every step of the way.

The very best deals on transport in summertime always come with planning and booking early on in the year. Luckily for you it’s barely February, so I’d recommend getting to it right away if you plan on leaving as much left over in your piggy bank as possible. Exams are over and uni is as light as it’s going to get from here on out, so make use of what little extra free time you have now and you won’t regret it. Flights skyrocket in price after school terms end in July, so get in there sooner while you’re free. Exams end June 9th, so give yourself a few weeks to celebrate then get out there and see the world.

Aside from this, the most important factors of your weekend away that can be bent to trim costs are your travelling origins and destinations. Naturally, different places abroad are cheaper to get to from different airports in the UK. Plan to stick around after your exams and search cheap flights from Manchester and Liverpool airports. Stay flexible and keep your eyes peeled: Leeds sees the occasional good deal too, as does Newcastle, and if you’re willing to book a Megabus to London, Stansted Airport always has plenty of budget flights. Getting out of the UK can be an expensive affair from many places, so look a little wider and you’ll get results.

To find out exactly how to escape Britain as inexpensively as possible, I recommend Skyscanner. Rather than specific destinations, the search fields allow you to search for travel from all of one country’s airports to another’s. The ‘Everywhere’ feature works well too, allowing you to search for the cheapest flights from anywhere to, well, everywhere. Nonspecific searches allow you to quickly and easily find the best options, dates, and times, to string together a plan of how you’re going to get to and from every destination on your list. It could even open your eyes to a new destination entirely!

Squashing down flight costs and surrounding expenses is a crucial factor in ensuring the whole trip is as cheap as possible. I suggest entering into it with a mind open to all possibilities, and taking some time to search around online for which airports appear cheapest to fly from and to, in any given countries. This will help you come up with a concrete framework of flights on which to base your trip around. Get going with it all now, while everything’s still as cheap as it’s going to be. After you’ve got all that bother sorted is when the real fun starts. Good luck!