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Well, as the newspapers say the economy is looking up, I can virtually hear us all breathe a collective sigh of relief. But the truth is that despite this news, most of us will still be feeling the pinch for some time to come, and so we still need to give some thought to how to make the most of our summer holidays.

And I’m sure with all the bleak weather we’ve been having lately, your mind, like mine, has turned to thoughts of sunny shores. So, the question is, just how can you make the most of your money this holiday?

Look a little deeper than the deals

Over the past few years, I think it’s fair to say most of us have got pretty good at finding great deals – and are very much prepared to put the time into locating the very best one. While this is definitely worth doing (and websites like  Holiday Nights will help you along the way), I reckon it’s about time we paid more attention to what’s beyond the deals – the cost of being in each destination. Because, let’s face it, it’s often the price of activities, drinks and meals once you arrive that really notch up the cost of your trip.

Last month (January), the Post Office travel report compiled a list of the top ten cheapest travel destinations based on the cost of a basket of shopping in each. I’ll give you a few examples of some of the most affordable (and enjoyable) locations below, but for now I think it’s worth learning a few lessons from this.

Firstly, how much you spend while actually on your holiday (i.e. not on hotels or flights) has a huge impact on the total cost of your break. Secondly, the amount you spend in any given destination can vary massively year on year depending on all kinds of economic factors, so it’s important to do fresh research, rather than relying on old favourites, before you book.

Be flexible

Before we talk about specific destinations, I’d just like to point out that flexibility can also be a real ally when it comes to making the most of your money. If you can go on holiday at virtually any time, for instance, this gives you the freedom to pick low-cost deals for your chosen destination, whether this means bagging a last-minute break or booking outside of the peak season.

This, however, will not be possible for families with school-age children. But, there’s still scope to be flexible – provided you do not have your heart set on a particular destination. Indeed, there’s the potential to save a lot of money if you’re happy to pick your location based on price.

Choose one of this year’s affordable destinations

There is so much information at your fingertips, it would be a waste not to use it. The Post Office travel report I mentioned above, for instance, is fantastic for finding out which are this year’s best-value destinations.

Among the top ten was the Algarve – one of Portugal’s most popular holiday hotspots. This sun-drenched region is world-famous for the calibre of its holidays – think beaches to suit all tastes, fabulous golf courses and just about every activity under the sun.

With summer temperatures averaging between 25 and 30 degrees C, hitting the beach is a must. Costa Vincentina is great for the active travellers among you who fancy bodyboarding or surfing, while Praia da Marinha is fantastic for snorkelling.

Like the Algarve, Marmaris is another family-friendly destination that offers good value for money. Located on the Turkish Riviera, it has hotels for every budget and absolutely beautiful weather, not to mention a stunning coastline. It’s a wonderful spot for scuba diving, too, making it perfect for adventurous families who want to make some great memories together.

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