Holidays and weekend breaks can be an expensive business. I bow to no man in my quest for cheap accommodation. This (though I say so myself) admirable approach to financial prudence has resulted in me taking my wife to rooms above a pub in Richmond, Yorkshire, where there were coffee stains on the sheets (dear God, let it have been coffee), a collection of dolls in the (shared) bathroom with their heads removed, and a TV that didn’t work (the latter being much the most heinous crime, obviously). But this august establishment was a veritable Shangri-La compared to the guest house I once stayed in in Slough, where I could stand up and touch opposing walls at the same time, and each room had locks on the outside because it doubled as a sort of remand centre.
Related: How to save money on your holiday
So I had not unreasonably assumed that I was pretty much the king of cheap getaways – until I watched this programme. The gist of this one-off show is that there is money to be saved on pretty much everything, if you just learn a few simple tips. As such, we follow some of the nation’s biggest tightwads foremost money saving experts as they pack their bucket and spade and head off on hols.
Jenny, aka the Coupon Detective, and Ashleigh Moneysaver (I’m guessing not her real surname) are two such experts, with their own websites and legions of followers. They head off with their partners to Great Yarmouth, to see who can save the most on a weekend break. Ashleigh has already managed to get a decent discount on the hotel, but turns up with her own towels, asking if that will get her a few quid knocked off the bill. It won’t, oddly enough. She says her ideal holiday would be completely free. I reckon she could probably talk a hotel into paying her to stay there. Or, at the very least, paying her to leave.
Related: How to get a deal on holiday money
Jenny, meanwhile, is saving money on accommodation by booking a self-catering apartment. With a view of a car park. Miles from the centre of town. She could basically have stayed at home. She and her partner indulge in a fairly joyless weekend of eating ASDA meals that are about to go out of date, and looking at parked cars.
Meanwhile, two families who are keen on watching the pennies go head-to-head to see who can enjoy a cheaper week’s holiday in Mallorca. Julie saves hundreds of pounds flying to Mallorca via Geneva. My geography isn’t brilliant, but I’m aware that’s not exactly en route. Meanwhile Andrea, who boasts that she haggles in charity shops (after all, how much money do sick children really need, hmm?) has booked accommodation which comes with a free breakfast. Her family order extra of everything (even sugar) and squirrel food away in their bags. This they are then able to eat from their tiny patch of wilting grass in (another) car park at Aqualand, a sun-blasted patch of balding green in a sea of hot asphalt, where they sit so they don’t have to pay for sun loungers.
Related: Visit Mallorca with Saga
It’s the end of the holiday. Well, for Julie’s kids it is. They have to leave a day early to overnight in Geneva. We join the family there, as they stare at the flags outside the UN HQ. “Well worth leaving Mallorca a day early for,” chirps Julie, as her kids regard her with contempt and dream of the hotel pool.
And, for some utterly inexplicable reason, in the midst of a show about how to save money on holidays, we have Holly, a coupon expert, trying to show Ingrid, who’s keen to tighten her belt, how to save money on the weekly shop. Holly’s brilliant, mind you. She once did a shop for £1164.39 and got the entire lot for free thanks to coupons. She stockpiles because “after 9/11 you never know what’ll happen.” If terrorists ever attack the world supply of frozen pizzas, she’ll be laughing.
Related: How to claim discounts if you’re over 50
If all of this sounds a bit negative, I should point out that I enjoyed the programme enormously. Those involved go to occasionally ludicrous extremes to save a few quid, and I have absolutely no desire to ever go on holiday with Andrea and co, but there is much to entertain here.
More than that, though, the truth of the matter is that there are plenty of very useful money-saving tips to be gleaned. Whether it’s walking into a chain restaurant and asking what special offers they have (and getting them to print off the voucher!) or making sure you check at your hotel’s reception for cheap deals on local entertainment, to something called ‘receipt wombling’ to a brilliant money saving tip involving the kids and/or grandkids, this programme could be seriously good for your wallet.
Related: Visit our money-saving section for great ways to go easy on your wallet
Sun, Sea and Supersavers, Tuesday 10th May, 8pm, Channel 4