How I saved over £500 by avoiding waste on an overseas trip!

I was recently taken away on holiday with my family by my lovely parents. I felt slightly guilty about the whole thing as this is the first time I have flown anywhere since I started my blog. I love travelling though and although I’ve been happy to have a few years break from flying, the offer of some winter sunshine and a change of scenery was just too good to turn down. Plus there was lots I could still do to save money and be eco-friendly.

  1. Secondhand clothes shopping – during the summer I looked out for useful clothes for the holiday for the kids and myself in charity shops. The charity shops tend to put out clothes that are seasonal, so if I waited until before the holiday I might not have found what I was looking for! There is a Scope charity shop near me that sells everything for £1 and I bought a few t-shirts there (£5) for me. I bought a couple of pairs of swimming trunks for the kids in a different shop (another £2). It wasn’t all eco – I bought some croc-a-likes for me and the kids (£9) and a swimming costume (£3) for me in the end of season sales. I spent £19 in total.
  2. Clothes not shopping! My mum gave me a couple of dresses and a handbag of hers that she didn’t want any more. The dresses were too long for me so I shortened them. I also chopped the bottom halves off some of the kids trousers that had holes in the knees to make shorts. I mended a pair of flip flops with superglue (it wasn’t a brilliant mend, but did the job for a bit) and replaced a missing button on a skirt. 1 handbag perfect to take on holiday, 2 dresses, 2 pairs of shorts, one mended skirt and a pair of flip flops not purchased meant money saved! I also had some shorts to take on holiday that had been given to me by a friend a couple of years ago.
  3. No food waste! I made sure I used up the food in my fridge and on my fruit bowl. I had cream, milk, yogurt, cheese, a very ripe avocado, a couple of ripe kiwis, butternut squash, beetroot and various odds and ends of vegetables to use up. I made:
    1. Soup (using up vegetables and cream – I made 6 servings) and then froze it.
    2. Beetroot and butternut casserole (it was inspired by this recipe here, but I used cooked cubes of beetroot instead of chickpeas and thyme from my garden instead of tarragon. I also just used the cream I had and replaced the leeks with onions). I froze 3 servings of it in containers, had one and it was delicious! It was also lovely to have some ready made meals to come back to!
    3. Kiwi avocado sorbet – you have to try this! It tastes so good – mash and mix overripe kiwi and over ripe avocado together and freeze. It does turn into a solid lump and it is easier to use an ice cube tray so you can just take some of it out to partially defrost at a time. I made 3 servings of this.
    4. I froze the milk in an ice cube tray, so that we could have milk available for a cup of tea when we got home and so the milk didn’t go to waste.
    5. I also froze the yogurt with the idea that I could use it as a starter for my next batch when I got home.
    6. We ate or froze all the other food.
  4. Luggage – we got given luggage as a wedding gift a long time ago and it is still going strong. We have 4 suitcase – 2 large ones, a smaller one and an even smaller one. We had enough luggage allowance to take 4 big ones with us, but we decided to use the luggage we had and go way under our allowance. The kids already had bags that were perfect for hand luggage that had come from charity shops.
  5. Books – I got several books out the library for myself and the kids before we went. I was even organised enough to suggest the library bought a book and reserve it for when it did. I was really pleased that it came in before I went on holiday! The book was Beth Terry’s Plastic Free – a book I have been meaning to read for a while! 
  6. The hotel we were going to had wifi and we had mobile phones so I decided if we wanted to listen to music we could find it on YouTube.
  7. Zero waste on the plane – we flew on a budget airline and food wasn’t included in the plane fare, so it was easy to take packed lunch with us. I took empty reusable water bottles through security and bought the largest bottles of water I could find on the other side to fill them up with and to save us buying small bottles on the plane. I could have asked a cafe to fill them up or looked for a water fountain, but I have a chlorine intolerance, so decided to buy bottled water. We saved money on our lunch and although we did buy some crackers and crisps, there was less waste than there could have been. 
  8. We didn’t buy any souvenirs while we were there, but we did save small empty jam jars from breakfast, washed them out and brought them home! I find little jam jars so useful for putting things like half a clove of garlic in or some camomile flowers (means I can carry my home grown camomile tea around with me – read more here.)
  9. While we were there we made packed lunches instead of eating lunches out, which saved us a lot of money.
  10. We bought massive 5 litre bottles of water while we were there (even the locals don’t drink the tap water) and kept decanting it into our reusable bottles. It was much cheaper than buying smaller bottles from the hotel and saved lots of little plastic bottles of water being chucked away.
Feeling inspired after reading Beth Terry’s book, I asked questions about what the hotel does to reduce waste and ended up having a meeting with the hotels head chef. I don’t know how he felt about my suggestions to get a composter and my ideas for how they could waste less food, but he did take them time to meet with me and he said he would raise the idea of composting food waste, so hopefully something positive will come of it!

Sustainable gift wrap course

I don’t know exactly how much money I avoided spending but I would estimate it over £500! £100 or more saved on clothes / bag / shoes bought secondhand/ in the sales/ handed down/ mended, £30 on food not wasted, £50 worth of books taken out the library, if we bought 2 new suitcases for the kids – £80, lunches out every day £200, no music bought or downloaded – £10,  Large bottles of water from supermarket instead of extortionately priced small bottles at the hotel – £50! Plus If I wanted to buy similar mini jam jars they can be bought in packs of 12 for £4 online!

How do you save money and avoid waste on holiday?

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  1. What a good idea – I try not to waste food in general but coming up to a holiday I'm more likely to forget. Freezing milk is a great idea, don't know why I've never thought of that before!

  2. I love those little jam jars and saved some myself from out last trip. I find they are great as presents filled with my homemade jam 🙂

  3. Zoe

    It was a good theory to have milk to come home to. I put out a cube to defrost when we got home, but we were so tired we forgot about it and fell asleep! The rest of the cubes are still in my freezer and I'm wondering what to do with them! I have a feeling the kids might like them just as they are, or I could blitz them with some fruit to make a cold milkshake – not really the right time of year for frozen stuff though!

  4. Thanks for the tips. I always take my moisturizers in the small 100ml bottles, saves money from buying them on holiday.

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