Holiday hacks revealed: The ‘secret’ discounts and two-for-one offers that can make UK staycations surprisingly affordable, from Clubcard narrowboat deals to free hotel stays using Avios

  • Travel companies are offering ‘thank you’ discounts and freebies to NHS staff 
  • BA has expanded the number of hotels you can book using its Avios points
  • Camping and glamping gets cheaper if you join The Caravan Club

Tesco Clubcard points can be used on narrowboat rentals across the country with ABC Boat Hire 

Every week our Holiday Hero Neil Simpson takes an in-depth look at a brilliant holiday topic, doing all the legwork so you don’t have to. This week: how to cut the cost of a staycation.

The staycation summer has officially begun, with accommodation and attractions across England and Northern Ireland welcoming their first post-lockdown guests this weekend. Similar freedoms should soon be on the cards in Scotland and Wales.

Book now and you can secure a break in one of the best cottages, country hotels or campsites before they sell out. You can also find a series of ‘secret’ discounts and two-for-one offers that can make UK holidays surprisingly affordable.

First in line for money off can be NHS and emergency services staff, and the sometimes-forgotten heroes that are full-time carers. and Hoseasons offer ten per cent discounts on lodges, holiday parks, boats and barges. Find details of firms that are offering ‘thank you’ prices at

Short breaks may also be free through initiatives such as Hotels Thank The NHS, which has seen rooms and sometimes meals and spa treatments donated by firms across the country. Ballots to share them out will be held later this month – there’s more information at

Play your loyalty cards right and there are plenty of ways to save money in the UK.

British Airways has expanded the number of hotels you can stay in for free by using its Avios points.

Fancy a week exploring Alnwick Castle and Lindisfarne and stargazing in the dark skies of Northumbria? For about 10,000 Avios, you can bookend your trip with a free night in a Newcastle hotel, choosing from big chains such as Holiday Inn or Ramada, or fun independents such as Sleeperz.

Avios points can also be used for free stays from Orkney to the Isle of Wight.

Holidaymakers or business travellers who collect Hilton, Hyatt or Marriott points overseas can cash them in at home as well. Hyatt’s points can add up to free rooms at several locations in the UK, including The Nare Hotel, a 37-bedroom five-star country house hotel set right on the Roseland Peninsula in Truro, and Greywalls Hotel, an Edwardian country house in Muirfield that was designed by Sir Edward Lutyens.

Big deals: Loyalty cards can cut the price of a trip to Alnwick Castle

Hilton’s Honors points can be spent on free nights in more than 100 hotels in England alone, or make a staycation special by using your points to upgrade to a suite.

Supermarket loyalty cards also unlock holiday discounts.

Nectar points give money off LNER rail tickets and Tesco Clubcard points can be used for discounts at Butlin’s seaside resorts or on narrowboat rentals across the country with ABC Boat Hire.

Double discounts are on offer if you use Tesco points to cut the cost of railcards such as Family & Friends or Two Together, or a National Express coach card. Log in to your Clubcard account and £1 of points knocks £3 off the card’s price, before it then cuts most fares by a third. Train firms can also be a source of cheap tickets for attractions. from National Rail has a host of two-for-one deals from Edinburgh Dungeon to Birmingham’s Cadbury World.

Camping and glamping gets cheaper if you join the Camping and Caravanning Club or The Caravan Club. The former has hundreds of member-only sites, with pitches from £10 a night, or you get 30 per cent off its other locations. Caravan Club members get 50 per cent off pitch fees at its sites and ten per cent discounts on yurts and American Airstream trailers.

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