Cheap travel isn’t what it used to be. At my local airport, East Midlands, there are several budget airlines offering loads of destinations. But the choice becomes severely limited when many are now only flying to places once a week, or don’t even begin their services to places like Budapest until November.
And who wants seven nights in Wroclaw? No offence – I hear it’s lovely – but I’m not sure I could kill a week there. So instead, I’ve been looking into staying at home. A couple of years ago I had a great few days at a remote retreat in the West of Scotland. It was magical – and free, thanks to friends in the know. But try to book a singleton’s break in the UK and you might be mistaken that you’re buying a mortgage for the property you’re staying in.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m no longer hankering for a B&B which charges £30 a night. I know those days have largely gone, especially if you want a bit more luxury. But a quick online search for pub accommodation in Devon and Dorset comes up with some ridiculous prices – £150 a night for sleeping above a pub! Naturally I can see the attraction of being close to your digs, but olde worlde pubs often come with creaking staircases and poor sound insulation.
Some establishments stick rigorously to silly rules : a third night free, but only for two people, and only if they eat in our restaurant for all three nights. You might as well stay at home for that. Elsewhere, the ridiculous penalty for daring to travel alone. Sure, it’s the same room as would be used by a couple, but why just a £10 discount off the nightly rate.
Perhaps the answer is to go with the crowd and opt for a traditional seaside location. But again, I’ve searched and found establishments reminiscent of Fawlty Towers still charging over £100 a night. And you can guarantee that the breakfast room will still consist of narrow menus, limited choice and faded glory.
The budget is also challenged when you add in the cost of travel to places in the UK. A return rail
ticket to Dorset will set you back around £100 on a good day – and even then, you’ll be limited to going as far as Weymouth. Once there, public transport is sparse. So if you want to explore anywhere in detail, it’s a hire car – the cheapest deals coming in at £120 for a week, minus fuel. It soon adds up.
So it looks like another trip abroad – and one place in particular is jumping out. East Midlands currently has flights to Dubrovnik, which has been on my list for some time. Although it may have to be seven nights – thought I can imagine plenty of scope for exploring. And – like many resorts these days – it has a large number of apartments as opposed to hotels. They’re sometimes a bit cramped, but they’re a place of your own for the week. And generally speaking, they’re priced within a modest budget.
The UK could learn a lot from that. When I’ve added in fuel and meals, I could almost have a cheeky weekend in New York for the price of a week in Newquay.