cheap school holiday getaways for families, teachers and groups

For this week’s holiday hotline, I decided to tackle a very hot topic: cheap summer holidays.

For teachers, families, or those wanting to just make the most of the summer weather, I know it really can be difficult to bag a bargain.

So, for this hotline I’m going to go through six different things – which you can click on to jump to if you don’t fancy a long read (if you do, grab a cuppa!)

NAVIGATION

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Top tips for cheap summer holidays

  • Book your flights sooner rather than later

Long gone are the days when you could rock up to the airport on the day and ask for a cheap flight. The stats show that flights costs almost always go up in the last week before travel – and that’s before even taking into account travelling at peak times.

The fact is that the summer holidays are always going to be popular travel times and so waiting for the price to drop is always going to be a tricky game.

My advice is if the price is an ‘typical to lower’ than the average cost, then book knowing that you will have spent less than more than half of the people on your flight.

You can find this out by popping your flights into Google Flights, selecting them and looking out for their helpful price bar (though remember to check the flights on Skyscanner too as they can often be even cheaper!).

Hopper is also a good app that uses stats to predict whether it’s the right time to book.

  • Book a hotel with a good cancellation policy and then check for last minute deals

The good news is that it is still possible to score a last minute deal when it comes to your accommodation – hotels do not like leaving rooms empty and so last minute price slashes are known even in peak times.

However, there is an element of risk here and so a good way to get around that is to book a hotel with a good cancellation policy early. Some hotels will offer this as standard.

Then, closer to your holiday you can scour to check for last minute bargains and cancel your original booking if you find a deal.

  • Book a holiday rental instead of a hotel

Whether it’s an apartment or villa with pool, the great thing about a holiday rental is how much money you can save by buying food, drinks and snacks for the duration of your stay!

  • If you want an Airbnb or villa, book early

Whilst many owners do higher their costs for peak times, some just have a basic rate that runs across the whole year. However, to find these cheap deals you’re going to have to get in and book early before someone else does.

And remember, if you haven’t used Airbnb before, you can get £25 off your first booking here!

  • Check more sites than just Airbnb

Hometogo searches lots of holiday rental websites, including Airbnb and it’s also worth checking out other websites such as Oliver’s Travels, Booking.com, Canopy and Stars and Sykes Holiday Cottages.

  • If you want an Airbnb or villa and have left it late, get ready to haggle!

Similar to hotels, Airbnb hosts don’t want their place going empty so put an offer in instead!.

Read my full guide on how to haggle on Airbnb here – there’s even a template email to send!

  • Booking a package holiday? Do it yourself for less!

One of my favourite things to do is to use package holiday sites as a springboard for my own searching. If they’re advertising a mega deal, before you hit ‘click’, have a search for the flights on Skyscanner and accommodation on Trivago to see if you could do it cheaper – often you can!

What I also like about this is that it’s a simple way to discover cheaper flights to popular destinations and then you could always swap out their chosen hotel for something more you, or perhaps even a villa or an apartment.

Do bear in mind that if you’re booking your flight and accommodation separately you will not get the ATOL or ABTA insurance offered by most package holiday companies so make sure you’ve got travel insurance and buy on a credit card or a visa debit card for added payment protection on purchases over £100. Read up on more ways to protect yourself here.

  • House sit for free accommodation

Did you know that you can bag free accommodation by looking after someone’s house, watering their plants or even feeding their pets? I’ve done it twice and it is amazing.

  • Get your flights for the cheapest price possible

Use my cheap flight checklist and find the scenario that best fits your getaway!

There’s also a list of alternative ways to whittle down that price at the end too.

  • Get £25 off by booking with cashback

This isn’t supposed to be part of the work I’ve been recently doing with Quidco but I thought I would highlight here that you can get a £25 bonus plus cashback by signing up to Quidco and spending £250 on travel before 9th Feb 2020 by using this link.

  • Visit a non traditional summer holiday destination

Yes, I’m sure you’d to relax at the beach but if you’re really after a great value holiday, I’d recommend heading inland or to a city. As there’s less demand for these destinations, you could end up finding a much better deal and just because it’s not by the sea doesn’t mean you can’t score yourself a hotel with a pool!

  • Fly inland and travel to the coast another way

If you’re really gagging for that beach holiday try flying inland instead – big capital cities that aren’t on the coast are normally a good shout as there’s lots of flights going there – and then look at either taking the train or driving to the coast.

Whilst not a beach destination, we once took a 2 hour train in Italy to get between Rome and Perugia and it cost just £10 each and was a lush way to travel (though that may have something to do with the bottle of prosecco we took on board…)

  • Pack light

The great thing about summer holidays is that it’s warm and you really don’t need to pack much. Make a clothes plan before you go away and stick to it. Use a big fabric backpack (this is what I use) that you’ll be able to use for flights with even the crappest allowances. If travelling in a group, book a suitcase between you for liquids if you really need them or order your liquids through click and collect at a Boots after security. Yep, THIS IS A THING!

I used to pack LOADS but now I love going travelling light – give it ago on your next holiday!

  • Not sure where you’re going to go? Use clever search engine tools

When you just want to get away, there are loads of search engine hacks that can help you spot a cheaper fare.

My favourite is the Ryanair fare finder which allows you to select date ranges. DREAMY.

WHY DOESN’T EVERYONE ELSE DO THIS??!!

Other search engines have great tools but a lot of them clump your searches into month blocks. This can be really helpful for August, but not in July when you only want to search for school holiday dates and the cheapest prices will obviously be those outside of that.

Here’s one way you can kind of hack your way around it – though it’s a bit long winded!

Kayak let’s you search for ‘anywhere’ and they also allow you state the duration of your trip – LOVE IT as it allows flexibility.

They also make out that you can search for 4 weeks around your selected date but it’s a lie mate.

Once you click search it forgets that date and then you can only select a whole month to search.

WHY ARE YOU TEASING US KAYAK?!!

However, I did find this helpful…

Once you’ve selected a destination, look to the right as this graph does allow you to toggle through the trip duration and you can spot where the cheaper prices will lie.

But then again, if you know what destination you want, you’ll also get this from the banging calendar view on Google Flights!

Google Flights also have a clever search tool that allows you to search for weekends, weeks and two week return flights in a certain month (though annoyingly we’re note quite at the summer holidays yet!).

On the homepage, leave your destination blank, click search, and then click into the dates and toggle over to ‘flexible dates’.

And as always, check your flights on Skyscanner before you book.

Skyscanner also allow you to search for ‘everywhere’ in a certain month but I’d like to see some more options from these guys in the future!


The Request

This week’s holiday hotline is a culmination of a few people asking for cheap summer holidays so I’m going to show you some of the deals I’ve rustled up for couples, families and groups of mates.

Remember, if you want to be involved with the next holiday hotline, make sure you’re following me over on Instagram.


Cheap summer flights from all over the UK

Before I give you some solid holiday options, here’s some cheap flights from all over the UK that might intrigue you but remember – check the accommodation prices before you hit buy on those cheap flights!

From London

Berlin, Germany – 5 nights – Weds 19th Aug – Mon 24th Aug – £58 each
Ibiza, Spain – 4/5 nights – Sat 8th Aug – Thu 13th Aug – £60 each
Nice, France – 7 nights – Tues 28th July – Tues 4th Aug – £67 each
Budapest, Hungary – 7 nights – Tues 18th Aug – Tues 25th Aug – £86 each
Seville, Spain – 7 nights – Thurs 6th Aug – Tues 11th Aug – £86 each
Porto, Portugal – 5 nights – Sun 26th July – Fri 31st July – £102 each
Luqa, Malta – 9 nights – Tues 21st July – Thu 30th July – £106 each
Faro, Portugal – 7 nights – Tues 28th July – Tues 4th Aug – £115 each

From Manchester

Copenhagen, Denmark – 5 nights – Wed 22nd July – Mon 27th July – £41 each
Amsterdam, Netherlands – 5 nights – Wed 12th Aug – Mon 17th Aug – £48 each
Prague, Czechia – 7 nights – Thu 6th Aug – Thu 13th Aug – £80 each
Lisbon, Portugal – 7 nights – Thu 20th Aug – Thu 27th Aug – £107 each
Barcelona, Spain – 5 nights – Sat 15th Aug – Thu 20th Aug – £110 each
Luqa, Malta – 7 nights – Wed 12th Aug – Thu 20th Aug –£130 each
Malaga, Spain – 8 nights – Wed 12th Aug – Thu 20th Aug – £136 each

From Cardiff

Dublin, Ireland – 7 nights – Wed 5th Aug – Wed 12th Aug – £58 each
Paris, France – 5 nights – Fri 7th Aug – Wed 12 July – £112 each
Malaga, Spain – 7 nights – Wed 22nd July – Wed 29th July – £118 each

From Edinburgh

Milan, Italy – 7 nights – Sun 16th Aug – Sun 23rd Aug – £75 each
Munich, Germany – 7 nights – Mon 3rd Aug – Mon 10th Aug – £76 each
Girona, Spain – 7 nights Sun 16th Aug – Sun 23rd Aug – £97 each
Faro, Portugal – 12 nights – Sun 23rd Aug – Weds 2nd Sep – £105 each
Dubrovnik, Croatia – 7 nights – Thu 13th Aug – Thu 20th Aug – £114 each

From BelfasT

Amsterdam, Netherlands – 7 nights – Sun 9th Aug – Sun 16th Aug – £73 each
Luqa, Malta – 7 nights – Tues 25th Aug – Tue 1st Sep – £75 each
Krakow, Poland – 7 nights – Thu 13th Aug – Thu 20th Aug – £124 each
Venice, Italy – 7 nights – Mon 27th July – Mon 3rd Aug – £156 each

From Leeds

Dublin, Ireland – 7 nights – Sun 26th July – Sun 2nd Aug – £44 each
Amsterdam, Netherlands – 5 nights – Sat 25th July – Thu 30th July – £94 each
Limoges, France – 7 nights – Thu 23rd July – Thu 30th July – £112 each
Pisa, Italy – 7 nights – Fri 14th Aug – Fri 21st Aug – £118 each

Hopefully that will give you some ideas but let’s put a few of them into motion to show what cheap accommodation you could find as well.


Cheap summer holidays for couples

THE HOLIDAY

Berlin is a great example of non-traditional summer holiday destination that’s a lot of fun in the warmer months.

James and I went last August and had the best time zipping about the city of e-scooters, drinking bottles of beer out in the sunshine and even travelling out to one of the many lakes Berlin brags on its outskirts.

What’s more, there are loads of great 4 star hotels available for around £60 a night – even in the summer – though do check whether there will be aircon. Ours didn’t have any initially and it was SO WARM!

FLIGHTS

London to Berlin, Germany
Weds 19th Aug – Mon 24th Aug
£57 each

ACCOMODATION

Leonardo Royal Hotel Berlin Alexanderplatz
4 star
£59 a night / £147.50 each for 5 nights

What’s more, if you book with Quidco you can earn 8.4% cashback if you book with a credit card, as well as qualifying for the bonus £25 back if you sign up with this link.

TOTAL

Without cashback – £204.50 each for 5 nights
With cashback and bonus – £179.61 each for 5 nights


Cheap summer holidays for families

THE HOLIDAY

So, I’m going to show you hear how you can use package holiday sites to find a good deal but then book it yourself to save even more money.

Here’s a week long holiday to Mazagón, a beach town in Andalusia, Spain. The Mazagon hotel has a kids club, entertainment and a pretty bad ass pool (hello pirate ship and slides) and the price per night includes half board which should help keep your daily costs down.

I found this deal on loveholidays which is great website to use if you’re a fan of package holidays as I love the fact you can select multiple departure airports – for this I selected ‘Any North West’ – and that you can select a date but then add up to 5 days flexibility either side.

However, let’s take these details and break it down.

FLIGHTS

Manchester to Seville
Weds 19th Aug to Weds 26th Aug
£97 each / £386 total

HOTEL

By searching on Google Hotels, Trivago and even with the hotel directly, I’ve found the same room for £153 a night with LogiTravel.

TOTAL

The total cost for a family of four comes in at £1460 – that’s £104 cheaper than booking it as a package.

That works out at £365 each.

Again, check out the cashback deal I’ve got running at the moment to earn a bonus £25 plus cashback on the hotel, meaning you’d save £117 pounds bringing the overall total in at £335.75 each.

It is worth noting that booking your holiday as a package can mean you can put down a small deposit (though in this case, LogiTravel also allow you to put down a small deposit for just your hotel) and that you won’t get the same insurance that comes with booking parts of your holiday together.

However, there are some straight forward ways to cover yourself – including buying on a credit or visa debit card and making sure your travel insurance covers insolvency.

You can read up on this here!


Cheap summer holidays for groups

THE HOLIDAY

For our final search, I’m going to show you another way to get a cheaper summer holiday – find the accommodation first!

I find this is especially helpful when you’ve got quite niche requirements, so for this example, here’s what I’m searching for:

  • 24th August for one week (give or take a few days)
  • 6 people
  • At least 3 bedrooms
  • At least 2 bathrooms
  • Hot weather destination
  • Air conditioning
  • Pool

The reasoning behind this is that if you can nail a great price for where you’re staying, you’ll save way more than scoring some cheap flights and then trying to find accommodation that suits.

ACCOMMODATION

So, to search for this I’m going to head over to Airbnb and in the search bar, type ‘Europe’.

I’ll then enter my dates (24th Aug – 31st Aug) and the amount of guests I’m after (6).

Next, I’ll click on ‘Stays’ and on the next screen, will use the filters to finely tune what I’m after.

E.g.

  • Entire place
  • Max budget of £150 a night
  • At least 3 beds
  • At least 3 bedrooms
  • At least 2 bathrooms
  • Air conditioning
  • Pool

Even after all of that, Airbnb is showing me 300+ places to stay so now it’s about using the map to see where may be easy to get to and for a good price.

Almost instantly I find this UNREAL home for an incredibly good price in the south of Spain.

Airbnb
Ribera Baja
Sleeps 12 – 4 bedrooms – 3 bathrooms
£138 a night / £964 total

Get £25 off your first stay

What’s more, the availability on the calendar tells me it’s free from 21st August so we do have some flexibility on dates which will help find the best value flights.

It’s a 2 hours drive from Malaga and a 2.5 hour drive from Seville, so there’s also some flexibility there as well.

FLIGHTS TO MALAGA

Fri 21st Aug – Fri 28th Aug
From London – £141 each

Tues 25th Aug – Tues 1st Sep
From Belfast – £89 each
From Glasgow – £95 each
From Edinburgh – £111 each

FLIGHTS TO SEVILLE

Fri 21st Aug – Fri 28th Aug
From London – £114 each
From Manchester – £152 each

Sat 22nd Aug – Sat 29th Aug
From Edinburgh – £120 each

Mon 24th Aug – Mon 31st Aug
From Manchester – £140 each

Tues 25th Aug – Tues 1st Sep
From Bristol – £116 each

TOTAL

So, if you’re flying from Belfast, this place for six people could be as cheap as £249 each for one week.

BUT, if you were to fill up the place to capacity and have 12 of you staying, it could be as cheap as £214 each!

(Before you question my maths, the price of the Airbnb goes up with the amount of people who stay!)


Phew! That was an epic one! Wanna say thanks?

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Where are the best value places to go as a solo traveller?

On this week’s Holiday Hotline, I noticed a bit of a theme.

Lots of people asking about solo travel.

As someone who travels often with someone else, I take for granted how lucky I am when it comes to costs because being able to split a hotel here, a car hire there, can really help when keeping down the price.

However, with a growing demand for solo travel, it’s about time I put my bargain hunting hat on to share some of my top tips when it comes to holidaying on your own.


New to the Holiday Hotline?

Once a week, I take in your cheap holiday requests over on my Instagram and select one to do a deep dive on.

If you want to be involved in the future, make sure you’re following me and keeping an eye out for my stories.


Top Tips for Cheap Solo Travel

Before we crack on with the specific request at hand, I wanted to whizz though some general top tips that will help you book your next solo trip.

However, make sure you keep on scrolling to see what 3 night holiday you could be going on, on your own, for less than £90!


Destinations

  • Perhaps the most important things to keep in mind… Visit somewhere cheap!

I’m not just talking about cheap flights – they’re a one off cost – I’m on about somewhere that is cheap to stay, eat, drink, do and travel about.

Here’s some of my recommendations:

Please note: the average costs for hotels come from Kayak based on what’s been booked in the last three days – therefore you will definitely be able to find something much cheaper by staying in a basic hotel, hostel or airbnbor just by scoring an unreal deal!

GDAŃSK,
POLAND

Hotel: £47 a night

Inexpensive meal: £5.04

0.5l beer: £1.81

Transport: 65p

Also try: Kraków, Wrocław, Poznań, Łódź and Warsaw

BUDAPEST,
HUNGARY

Hotel: £67 a night

Inexpensive meal: £5.12

0.5l beer: £1.28

Transport: 90p

Also try: Debrecen, Eger, Lake Balaton, Sopron, Heviz

PORTO,
PORTUGAL

Hotel: £71 a night

Inexpensive meal: £5.98

0.5l beer: £1.71

Transport: £1.07

Also try: Lisbon, Faro, Funchal, The Azores and Olhão

ISTANBUL,
TURKEY

Hotel: £53 a night

Inexpensive meal: £3.92

0.5l beer: £2.61

Transport: 35p

Also try: Antalya, Bodrum, Cappadocia and Ephesus

SIEM REAP, CAMBODIA

Hotel: £45 a night

Inexpensive meal: £1.53

0.5l beer: 38p

Transport: 96p

Also try: Phnom Penh, Koh Rong and Bangkok, Thailand

CARTAGENA, COLOMBIA

Hotel: £78 a night

Inexpensive meal: £3.66

0.5l beer: 95p

Transport: 57p

Also try: Medellin, Bogata and Tayrona National Park


More average daily costs can be found using Numbeo.


Accommodation

  • Look for accommodation first
    This may well turn out to be a bigger cost than your flight so take a look at when there’s good availability first and then get your flight!
  • Change the number of people staying to 1
    Lots of booking sites autofill to 2 people and there are many hotels that do offer a single occupancy discount or single bed rooms
  • Find the cheapest dates to stay
    If you have a hotel in mind, use Google Hotels to scour for the best rates available using their handy calendar view. Then use Trivago to find which site offers the cheapest price
  • Use Trivago to help whittle down the options
    If you’re not so sure where to stay, use Trivago and its handy filters to really nail what you’re after. Always remember to click ‘more deals’ to see the cheapest prices!
  • Stay in a hostel
    If you’re wanting to meet other solo travellers, or just really keep the cost down, hostels are perfect – I recommend using hostelworld and using the filters to sort by best rated
  • Many hostels also offer private rooms if you want to mingle but also have space to yourself
  • Stay in a Bed and Breakfast
    B&Bs are also a great shout and if you’re refining your search by selecting how many stars you want, you can often miss out on these as many aren’t starred like hotels.

    Booking.com has a helpful B&B search section for this!
  • Stay in an Airbnb
    Airbnb has become standard issue when it comes to travel these days and are a great way to cut down daily costs, especially if they come with a kitchen!

    If you haven’t used it before, you can get £25 off your first stay here.
  • The private room option is a great way to keep costs down, still have access to a kitchen (normally!) and be able to have a local on hand to help you out
  • Stay for free
    Did you know that you can bag free accommodation by looking after someone’s house, watering their plants or even feeding their pets? I’ve done it twice and it is amazing.

Flights


Meeting New People

  • Book a group activity
    Solo travel can be amazing but if you, like me, can send yourself a little crazy after too much time alone, then why not plan for a group activity during your trip? It may just be a free walking tour (google whether the place you’re going has one) or a cookery class/hike or food tour!

I’ve used Airbnb Experiences in the past and have always met amazing people along the way. You’ll get money off your first one if you don’t have an Airbnb account already.

  • Book a group tour
    Like meeting new people so much you want to travel with them? There are loads of great tours available which will even pair you up in a room (hello splitting costs). Plus, most tours organise everything for you so you can relax on all the details.

    Tour Radar is a great site that compiles tours from load of different companies.

The Request

Right, let’s put all these tips into action so that we can help out Liam who has asked for:

  • Somewhere photogenic
  • From London or Edinburgh
  • End of Feb/early March
  • 1 person
  • 3/4 days
  • £300 budget

First thoughts

As London tends to be easier to find cheap flights from, I’m going to challenge myself by finding a cheap flight from Edinburgh first and hopefully the London option will come in at around the same cost.


Flights

When there’s no specific destination in mind, it can often be difficult to know where to start so I’m going to show you a really handy trick you can use on Google Flights to help you out.

I discovered this by total accident – I don’t know why they’re not screaming it from the rooftops as it is SO HELPFUL!

Step 1 – Enter your departure airport but leave the destination blank. Don’t worry about what dates are in, just press search.

Step 2 – In front of you will be a list of destinations to the left and a map with prices on the right. You’re going to click on the dates and next to ‘Specific dates’, you’re going to click on ‘Flexible dates’

Step 3 – Now, select what month you’d like to go away in (or you can just select ‘all’) and then select whether you want to go away across a weekend, 1 week or 2 weeks.

For Liam, I’ve selected ‘February’ and ‘Weekend’ and this is what comes up.

ISN’T THAT THE MOST HELPFUL THING EVER?!!

Though make sure to cross check your dates in Skyscanner and Momondo as they can often come up cheaper.

Now, you may be thinking ‘but Liam wanted 3/4 days Chelsea, not 2 and he didn’t specify weekend travel‘ well… You’re right. But as Google Flights is scouring for the cheapest flights across a weekend, most of them do tend to be 3 night stays as 2 nights is often more expensive.

Also, taking less annual leave means more holidays in the future so what’s not to love?!

There are some great options coming up from Edinburgh including:

Warsaw – £23 return
Gothenburg – £23 return
Milan – £32 return
Gdańsk – £33 return
Copenhagen – £48 return
Berlin – £50 return

But in the spirit of keeping daily costs down (and not choosing Poland which I’m sure you’re all sick of me banging on about!), I’ve decided to go for:

Edinburgh to Bratislava
Thu 27th Feb – Sun 1st March
Ryanair – small hand luggage only
£38 return

Bratislava is the capital of Slovakia and I think Liam will definitely be able to find some photogenic spots!

What’s more, with an average inexpensive meal coming in at £5.12, a beer coming in at £1.71 and ticket on the local transport costing only 77p, his money will go really far.

Also, as it’s only 64km from Vienna, it’s very possible to do a day trip to the Austrian capital, or even a twin city break!

You can even catch a boat between the two from 30 euros (though check the site for winter times as they aren’t daily!) or take a train for around £10, or a bus for around £5 via omio.

Now, let’s hope we can find a flight from London for a similar price!

London to Bratislava
Thu 27th Feb – Sun 1st March
Ryanair – small hand luggage only
£46 return

So, Liam will get a much fuller schedule if he flies from London but I think it’s fair to say that both prices are looking GREAT.

Now onto the fun bit…


Cheap Bratislava Accommodation

Airbnb
Entire Apartment
£73 for 3 nights

Save £25 on your very first Airbnb here

This highly rated and central Airbnb came in even cheaper than the private room options available. What a bargain!


Boutique Hostel CHORS
Capsule in 10 bed dorm
Breakfast included
£52 for 3 nights

Now, there are plenty of hostels to choose from with beds for £10 a night on hostelworld but I’m a big fan of these new ’boutique hostels’ that are popping up! You can even pay £4 more to stay in a room with just 3 others.


Apollo Hotel Bratislava
4 star
Includes breakfast
£126 for 3 nights

That’s right, just because you’re travelling solo, it doesn’t mean you have to rough it. The great news is that Bratislava means 4 star hotels for under £50 a night.

YES PLEASE AND THANK YOU.


Total cost

So, if Liam was to go with the cheapest flight and the cheapest accommodation, his 3 night trip to Bratislava would only cost £90.

Even with the better flight times from London and the four star hotel, his total cost would be £172 which really isn’t too shabby at all.

Get it booked, lad!

Wanna say thanks?

If I’ve helped you out, or you fancy getting access to more perks (and more holiday hotlines!) then you can also support me over on Patreon for the price of a really average coffee once a month.

Also, make sure you’re following me over on InstagramTwitter and YouTube.


Want my help?

To be in with a chance of getting your request selected, make sure you’re following me on Instagram where I’ll give you a weekly reminder to get your request in.

Until next week!

Can I do a 3 night group getaway to Krakow for less than £100pp?

This week we’re helping Jade who’s after a group trip to Krakow in Poland.

  • Krakow
  • From London
  • 3 nights
  • 7 people
  • £250pp

I love a group trip as more people means more people to split the cost by!

I also chose this holiday hotline because I thought it would perfectly show just how amazing Google Flights can be when you have a place in mind but you can be a little bit flexible on your dates.

3 nights is also the perfect amount of time to hook a getaway around a weekend so that you don’t have to use up too much annual leave.

Top tip for weekend trips:
A lot of people are looking for that Sunday flight back but by moving the trip back one day and getting the Monday flight home, you can save money and you’re often taking the same amount of time off work!


Flights

So first things first, let’s head to Google Flights and most importantly change your passengers to the correct number as there may only be a few tickets left at the lower price you find.

(The eagle eyed of you will spy in the screenshots that it’s for one but this is just as it’s the only way to reflect cost per person!)

Next, pop in where we’re leaving from and where we’re going to.

Next, click on the date box and change your desired trip duration at the bottom. Here, I’ve changed it to 3 days for Jade and her mates.

Now, that seems pretty straight forward but actually, things get even more helpful on the next page so for now just click some dates. Any dates, it doesn’t matter.

By doing this, you’ll see the cheapest flights possible for that day but what if you don’t want an evening flight?

And I bet you deffo don’t want that 6am flight home.

Meaning that your £33 return flight could quickly become more expensive.

And what if the flight times you actually want could be cheaper on another day?

Can you search for that?

The good news is, yes you can.

So, the next thing you’re going to do is select the ‘Times’ button and decide what times you’d ideally like to leave between, and then do the same for your return journey.

For Jade, I’m actually going to keep in a later departure so that it cuts down on annual leave needed getting to Krakow, however I am going to get rid of that 2050 flight option because I think that gets in just a tad too late.

For the return I’m also going with a later flight so that they can make the most of their last day but make sure it arrives home before 2200 so that most public transport is still up and running.

After doing this, go back to the calendar and you’ll see that the prices will have updated to reflect your needs.

You may need to change the length of your trip again at the bottom.

Now, I’m in a great place to look for a cheap price that hooks around a weekend and within a few clicks, I find this great price in March.

The 1950 departure time means that most people, if working in Central London, would only need to take half a day off work or nothing at all if they’ve got a nice boss who will let them leave just before 5pm!

Wizz Air only includes a small piece of hand luggage but I’m a firm believer in that being more than enough for a weekend away! Plus, if you’re travelling in a group you could split a suitcase between you to pop some extra liquids in.

As I’m searching for 7 people for Jade, here’s what the final cost looks like on Google Flights.

Which indeed works out at £48 each.

Bargain.

Before clicking through, always check your flights on Skyscanner as it can often find cheaper prices as it searches more third party companies.

The flights are showing up the same price but hilariously, Skyscanner are throwing in an even cheaper option with Ryanair for £43 return.

However, as it’s flying from and returning to different airports AND I have a way to save more money on Wizz Air, I’m going to stick with what I found on Google Flights and click through to book direct with the airline.

How to save more money on Wizz Air flights

By signing up to the Wizz Discount Club, you’ll get access to loads of perks.

And two types of membership are available:

The great news for Jade is that she can buy the group membership for £69 and it will save her £108 across 6 tickets – so the membership has instantly paid for itself and, once we’ve added in one remaining full price ticket, brings the cost in at £42.43 each for 7 people.

Even better is that the membership will last Jade a year and as she’s the only one named on the account, she can go away with a group of totally different people and still use the discount – or just use the discount for herself.

To buy this membership, Jade just needs to change the amount of tickets to six passengers and then click on the ‘WIZZ Discount Club Price’.

She’ll then be able to buy membership on the same screen.

Jade then just needs to buy the last ticket at the full price cost.


Right, that’s enough flight chat, let’s move onto accomodation.

IMAGINE IF I CAN’T FIND ANY AFTER ALL THAT.

No, positive thoughts Chelsea, positive thoughts.

For this I’m definitely thinking an apartment or house but instead of hopping straight to Airbnb, I’m going to go to HomeToGo instead.

HomeToGo is to holiday homes like what Trivago is to hotels.

It pulls in homes from loads of different sites, including Airbnb, and whilst isn’t always the slickest websites (sometimes listings aren’t available) I do like the range of choice it offers.

Top tip:
Too many Airbnb results being shown? Select ‘Balcony/Patio’ or ‘Garden’ in your search filters as Airbnb doesn’t have this option and therefore all will leave the listings. However, you will only get listings with those amenities but I always love to have a balcony so this is a plus for me!

For Jade, I’m searching for a place that has at least 4 rooms so that 7 people won’t feel too cramped!

I’m also using the map to search for a spot in Central Krakow.

As the flights were so cheap there’s enough budget left for accommodation to cost £483 a night but I reckon we can get something much cheaper!

Here’s the best that I found.


Accommodation

Rister Apartments
£129 a night / £55.29 each

The dining area may not be big enough for everyone but with 4 bedrooms (though one has a sofa bed), 2 bathrooms and two sofa areas, it’s not bad for £55 quid each!


Airbnb
£164.67 a night / £70.57 each for 3 nights

Not used Airbnb before? Get £25 off your first stay here!

THIS PLACE IS SO BIZARRE AND I FACKIN’ LOVE IT.

Just look at the floor plan 🤣

It will be so wrong for most groups but if you were away with a group of close mates and wanted a posh and trendy sleepover, WHAT A PLACE!

I mean, it has a sauna?!??? But only one bathroom?

WAS SOMEONE OFF THEIR TITS WHEN THEY DESIGNED THIS?!!!


Airbnb
£217 a night / £93 each for 3 nights

Not used Airbnb before? Get £25 off your first stay here!

What I liked about this place is not only did it have 5 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms, but it also had two social spaces and a table that actually fits all the people Jade wants to go away with!


House of Loft Affair
2 apartments x 1 bed apartments
£337.16 a night / £144.71 each for 3 nights

These apartments are GORGEOUS and they’ve got big social spaces.

Yet, for people not to be on sofa beds in the living rooms, Jade would need to book this instead.

House of Loft Affair
2 x 2 bedroom apartments
£529 a night / £227 each for 3 nights

Jade will need to select the Palace House and the Pent House.

Now this is slightly over budget but if Jade is looking for something a bit luxe, then this is it!


The final cost

So, going with the cheapest option, Jade and her mates could get away to Krakow for 3 nights for just £97.72 each.

Meaning that the extra £150 can be used for spends.

GET THE BEERS IN, SON.


Wanna say thanks?

If I’ve helped you out, or you fancy getting access to more perks (and more holiday hotlines!) then you can also support me over on Patreon for the price of a really average coffee once a month.

Also, make sure you’re following me over on InstagramTwitter and YouTube.


Want my help?

To be in with a chance of getting your request selected, make sure you’re following me on Instagram where I’ll give you a weekly reminder to get your request in.

Can I visit Japan in cherry blossom season on a budget?

Welcome to the new and improved Holiday Hotline!

From now on, I’ll be selecting just one holiday query a week but I’ll be going IN on it, and covering all the bases.

If you want me to help you in the future, make sure you’re following me over on Instagram.

THE REQUEST

So, Amy’s been in touch, and here’s what she’s after.

  • Japan
  • End of March
  • Cherry blossom season
  • 2 people
  • Flying from Manchester
  • 2 weeks
  • £1500 each

As someone who visited Japan last year in cherry blossom season and booked it all pretty last minute – not advised, by the way – I know that this can be done!

Cherry blossom season is always super popular – with both tourists and the Japanese – and you can check out the best dates to visit the different areas here.

For 2020, Tokyo’s supposed to start flowering from 21 March and be in full bloom by 27 March.

But be aware that last year it came early and so it’s not quite an exact science!

I was so lucky as I found our flights for just £258 (ridiculous, I know!) and so the first hurdle is gonna be getting Amy to Tokyo on a budget…

Let’s do this.

FLIGHTS

So, as Amy wants the end of March, it does make things a bit pricier (it’s getting close to Easter!) so as a quick aside, if you can fly between Thurs 12th – Fri 27th March, you’ll pay £133 each less.

But anyway, onwards!

Tues 24th March to Tues 7th April
Manchester to Tokyo
Nippon Airways / Swiss Air
£670 each

£670 may not seem a great price initially but actually, according to the stats on Google Flights, it’s not too shabby at all!

There is also a £469 flight on the 29th March yet the connections are a total horror show. But… I guess an option if you love flying and long layovers???!


What about other airports?

Alright, alright, I suppose I can help a few others out as well.

London – Tues 24 Mar – Tues 7th Apr – from £370 each

It does involves a long layover in Shanghai both ways but they do have a 72 hour visa pass for people in transit and there are plenty of hotels in and around the airport for that overnight layover on the way home!

There’s also this option with much shorter layovers for £433 each.

If you wanna fly direct, the best price is from Mon 16th for £780 but if you want to go later on like Amy, it’s going to set you back £979 each!

Edinburgh – Tues 24th Mar – Tues 7th Apr – £706 each

It does involve a 19 hour layover in Amsterdam on the way out but it’s timed really nicely for you to enjoy an evening there and get up with loads of time for your early afternoon flight.

Inverness – Tues 24th Mar – Tues 7th Apr – £630 each

Another long layover in Amsterdam on the way out but again, a nice excuse for a quick trip there too!

Cardiff – Tues 24th Mar – Tues 7th Apr – £695 each

Once again! KLM with their Amsterdam breaks!

The hilarious thing is that if you were to fly direct from Amsterdam on all of these KLM flights it would cost MORE than any of these listed above. How does that even make sense?!


RAIL PASS

Normally I’d move onto accommodation but for exploring Japan, the rail pass is a very important component.

But first of all, what is it exactly?

The Japan Rail pass – also known as the JR Pass – is a special discounted ticket available for tourists. It offers unlimited travel on trains operated by Japan Railways Group and includes the high-speed service known as the Shinkansen, or the Bullet Train.

Prices – correct as of December 2019

TypeJR Ordinary PassJR Ordinary PassJR Green Pass
(First Class)
JR Green Pass
(First Class)
DurationAdultChildAdult Child
7 day£200£100£268£134
14 day£319£160£433£217
21 day£408£204£563£282

Can you find a discount? No. There aren’t any, so don’t waste your time looking for one (I did).

For a two week trip, I think 7 days feels too short and 14 feels too long but I think if you’re trying to save money, think about doing a stint in Tokyo either side of your travels (that’s what we did!) so you can go for the shorter pass.

However, I’m going put Amy down for the full whack – £319 each – just to cover all bases (and because I love to make life difficult for myself).

There’s no set website to buy your rail pass on – a load of third parties do this – but I can personally recommend Japan Travel Centre as they offer free delivery (they also offer free pick up if you’re in London which is what I did).

Top tip: You cannot reserve seats on most trains outside of the country so make sure you head to a travel centre when you arrive to get a seat! You’re travelling at peak times so it’s deffo worth doing this. More details are here.


ITINERARY

I swear I’ll get to accommodation next but more important is to first work out where you want to go.

There are loads of great two week itineraries available online – one of my fave things to do is to look at a professional tour and then try to recreate it – but for the purpose of this challenge, I’ll be following this:

25th – 29th Mar / 4 nights / Tokyo
29th Mar – 1st Apr / 3 nights / Kyoto
1st Apr – 3rd April / 2 nights / Hiroshima
3rd April – 5th April / 2 nights / Osaka
5th – 6th April / 2 nights / Tokyo

This is loosely based on my own journey but do your own research and see what you fancy.


ACCOMMODATION

Here we go then! We finally made it!

As the flight arrives in a day later, we actually need to find 13 nights accommodation for this trip.

Given that the total for flights and a rail pass is already £931 each (jeez) this means we have £519 each left for places to stay.

That’s just £43.67 a night each.

Can we do it?

YES WE CAN!


Hold on a second…

Before we get into this, what I found was the best way to keep to budget in Japan was to change accommodation every couple of nights or so. This allowed us to explore new areas, work around a hotel’s busy calendar and also save money on some nights and splurge on others.

Due to this, I’d also recommend packing light. I actually only took my 45L Patagonia rucksack and James took a small wheelie case and a backpack. It made it so much easier.

Please be aware that Japanese rooms are MUCH smaller and if you’re staying in an Airbnb, it can feel pretty basic, but it’s a great insight into how many live in the city. Plus, make sure you check out some pod hotels because they are AMAZING/BIZARRE AF.

My top advice would be to get on trivago, enter your dates and just see what you can get for your money.

I’ve done some searching for you, but please do see the following places as a pick’n’mix selection!


Tokyo

Andon Ryokan – £84 a night / £42 each
Pssst – make sure you’re signed in to Booking.com as the price can go down more!

Traditional Ryokan style (you sleep on fold out futons on the floor) but with a modern twist – and a cracking breakfast included too!

Take a look at when we stayed there here!


ONE@Tokyo – £94 a night / £47 a night each

More western in style but with smaller rooms to keep the budget down.

Take a look at when we stayed there here!


9h nine hours Askusa – from £15 each

Yes, you do sleep in there.

Bizarrely, the price is often cheaper for men than women on the same night. It can also fluctuate from night to night and as you have to fully check out in the morning, I’d only recommend this as a first night or last night in an area. But a great experience!

Check out when we stayed in this type of capsule in Kyoto here!


Airbnb – £45.50 a night / £22.25 each

Not used Airbnb before? Get £25 off your first stay here!

It’s not looker, but if you’re wanting to save money and have more space than a pod, it’s not a bad price!


Airbnb – £70.75 a night / £35.37 each

Not used Airbnb before? Get £25 off your first stay here!

Teeny tiny, and in the traditional style, there’s not even room to swing a cat but with close transport links to Shinjuku, it may be just right for you!


Booking.com Apartment – £80.50 a night / £40.25


Book Tea Bed Ginza – £30.50 each

Book lover? Sleep amongst your favourite stories! How cool is that?!


Kyoto

The Millennials – £43.33 a night each

One of my most fave places I’ve ever stayed! It’s a pod hotel – but high tech with boutique hotel vibes. And a free beer hour!

Check our my written review here, or watch the video here.


Urban Hotel Kyoto – £77.67 a night / £38.84 each


The Celecton Kyoto Horikawa Sanjo – £65.66 a night / £32.83 each


Airbnb – £64.66 a night / £32.33 each

Not used Airbnb before? Get £25 off your first stay here!

Set in a hillside artist residence, you’re slightly out of the city and amongst Kyoto’s beautiful greenery here! But don’t worry, it doesn’t take long to travel central (they also have free bikes!)


Hiroshima

We didn’t go to Hiroshima but I wished we’d cut our Osaka trip slightly shorter to include it so that’s why it’s here.

WeBase Hiroshima – £64 a night / £32 each
Psst – remember to sign in to your account, you may get a cheaper price!


Nest Hiroshima – £79.50 a night / £39.75 each
Psst – remember to sign in to your account, you may get a cheaper price!


Airbnb – £62.50 a night / £31.25 each

Not used Airbnb before? Get £25 off your first stay here!


Osaka

Sonezaki Luxe Hotel – £71 a night / £35.50 each


Airbnb – £45 a night / £22.50 each


Airbnb – £59 a night / £29.50 each


PHEW!

So much for only choosing one hotline a week to save time – I think that was the most epic holiday search I’ve ever done!!

But I hope it goes to prove that Japan definitely can be done on a budget EVEN when the flights are coming through pricey.

I hope that helps Amy and whoever else is planning a Japanese getaway!

Wanna say thanks?

If I’ve helped you out, or you fancy getting access to more perks (and more holiday hotlines!) then you can also support me over on Patreon for the price of a really average coffee once a month.

Also, make sure you’re following me over on Instagram, Twitter and YouTube.


Want my help?

To be in with a chance of getting your request selected, make sure you’re following me on Instagram where I’ll give you a weekly reminder to get your request in.

Until next time!


I have used some affiliate links throughout this article. They don’t charge you more, but if you book through them you’ll be helping me to continue my cheap travel booking hobbies. TA PALS!

holiday hotline – cheap christmas markets, 4 star berlin hotels, £26 Kiev flights and cheap mini-moons to Naples

It’s time for the latest holiday hotline – a weekly affair where I go in search for the best bargains out there for you.

If you want to be involved in the next one, make sure you’re following me over on Instagram where I post the request on my story!

But less about future hotlines, more about this one!

ONWARDS!


THE REQUEST: Christmas Market Weekend Getaway

From: London
To: Anywhere
When: December
People: 2

Coming in at number 6 on the ‘Best Christmas Markets in Europe‘ list is Poznań  in Poland.

Not heard of it?

Don’t worry. All you need to know is that they’ve got a cute af Christmas market in their old market square and the average pint of beer costs £1.68.

SOLD.

FLIGHT

London to Poznań 
Fri 13th – Sun 15th Dec
Ryanair – small hand luggage only
From £46

Though I much prefer the timings on this flight which is £81.

ACCOMMODATION

The great thing about Poland is that you can get so much for your money! Check out these two amazing Airbnbs for a starter.

White Apartment
2 nights for £70 total
(Get £25 off here if you haven’t used Airbnb before!)



NEW Apartment
2 nights for £80 total
(Get £25 off here if you haven’t used Airbnb before!)

And with cheap Airbnbs also come cheap hotels!

PURO’s range of hotels are always chic and the one in Poznań is no different!

PURO Poznań Stare Miasto
2 nights for £130 total

So, a weekend getaway in a top 10 Christmas Market destination from just £81pp?

WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR BBZ?!


THE REQUEST: Boxing Day Flights to Moscow

From: London
To: Moscow
Dates: Leaving 26th Dec and coming back end of Jan
Budget: £200pp
People: 2

FLIGHTS

London to Moscow
Thurs 26th Dec – Thurs 30th Jan
Wizzair – small bag included
From £167 each

You can also fly on Christmas day, returning on the 30th Jan for £138 each.

Please note: you will need a visa to visit Moscow which will cost around £100 and will need to visit their visa centre in either London, Manchester or Edinburgh and allow for at least 20 business days for it to process so do it sooner rather than later! There is also an urgent option but it will cost you a lot more. Here’s the info you need as a British national.


THE REQUEST: Christmas getaway from Manchester

From: Manchester
To: Anywhere
Date: Leaving 24th Dec
Duration: 3-5 nights
Vibes: Fun!

Fun you say?

Well, there’s no place quite as fun as Berlin!

FLIGHTS

Manchester to Berlin
Tues 24th – Sun 29th Dec
Ryanair – small hand luggage only
easyJet – carry on case
£99 each

You can also return on the Saturday for £96 each.

ACCOMMODATION

Amazingly, the hotels are much cheaper than Airbnbs during this period so why not treat yourself?

Here’s my top picks.

Boutique Hotel i31
5 nights for £387 total / £77 a night
Save an extra 5€ with the code 2020DIRECT

Leonardo Hotel Berlin Mitte
5 nights for £320 total / £64 a night

Max Brown Kudaam
5 nights for £417 total / £83 a night
(but you can also book with a more well known site for £479 total)

This is the hotel that James and I stayed at this summer and we loved its cool, boutique vibes and most importantly the AMAZING breakfast place downstairs. The best bit about staying is that you can ring down to reserve a spot and not have to wait in their huge queues!!

However, if you fancy having your own space so that you can properly enjoy a cosy day in on Christmas Day, here’s a cute Airbnb that may suit too!

Berlin Neukölln 
5 nights for £469 total / £94 a night
(Get £25 off here if you haven’t used Airbnb before!)


THE REQUEST: December Trip to Kiev for 2

From: Birmingham/Manchester or London
To: Kiev, Ukraine
When: December
People: 2

FLIGHTS

The cheapest flight I could find was this bad boy:

Manchester to Kiev
Mon 9th – Fri 13th Dec
£26

There’s also this cheap option over a weekend from London.

London to Kiev
Weds 11th – Sun 15th Dec
From £47

There are also options with just Ryanair, or just Wizzair for a couple of pounds more.

ACCOMMODATION

2 Bedroom Apartment
4 nights for £232 total / £58 a night
(Get £25 off here if you haven’t used Airbnb before!)

Eco Wood Apartment
4 nights for £186 total / £45 a night
(Get £25 off here if you haven’t used Airbnb before!)

THE REQUEST: January mini-moon in Naples

From: Luton or Heathrow
To: Luton
When: 3 nights in January
People: 2

FLIGHTS

London Luton to Naples
Thurs 9th – Sun 12th Jan
easyJet – small carry on included
£65 each

ACCOMMODATION

First, let’s take a look to see if there are any cute (and romantic??) Airbnbs.

The Little House
3 nights for £192 total
(Get £25 off here if you haven’t used Airbnb before!)

BINGO!

HOW CUTE IS THAT?! (And just £64 a night? Yes please!)

I also love the look of this place for £63 a night, and this place for just £59 a night!

However, since this is for a mini honeymoon, let’s see if we can also find a great hotel choice.

Artemisia Domus
3 nights for £334 total
Breakfast included

Fancy the best room in the hotel? It’s £165 a night for the King Suite with spa bath!

LUSH.


That’s everything fo this week’s holiday hotline.

Once again, I’m so sorry if I didn’t get to yours this week but make sure you’re following me over on Instagram to get involved with the next one!

If I’ve helped you out, or you fancy getting access to more perks (and more holiday hotlines!) then you can also support me over on Patreon for the price of a really average coffee once a month.

Until next time!


I have used some affiliate links throughout this article. They don’t charge you more, but if you book through them you’ll be helping me to continue my cheap travel booking hobbies. For full transparency, I earn about 10p if you book a flight through a link so… Yeah, I’m rolling in it la!

holiday hotline #8 – £116 Krakow trip, Budapest in October, £302 flights to New York and a FAILED group getaway to Amsterdam

If you haven’t heard of the holiday hotline before, it’s something I do over on my Instagram stories where I ask you for what cheap getaway I can help find for you.

As I can only get to a few every week, I’ve decided to include how I go about finding deals so that even if you weren’t picked, there will hopefully be something here to help you with your own booking.

Well, as long as you don’t want a group trip to Amsterdam…

More of that coming up!


THE REQUEST: CHEAP Winter weekend getaway FROM MANCHESTER

From: Manchester
To: Krakow/Finland/Latvia/Slovakia
When: Jan/Feb weekend
People: 2

FLIGHT

Manchester to Krakow
Fri 7th – Sun 9th Feb
Ryanair – small hand luggage only
£84

If you’d like a bigger bag, you can also fly with easyJet and Jet2 for £111 who both allow a carry on case.

Not interested in Manchester? Here’s where else you could fly to that weekend:

London – from £42
Liverpool – from £104
Glasgow – from £136

ACCOMMODATION

As Krakow is so good on the pocket, I always like to make the most of it by staying a lush hotel that I normally couldn’t afford. 


PURO Kraków Kazimierz is that rare partnership of incredible style and incredible value, coming in at just £53.50 a night.

If you book with Hotels.com (who are currently offering the cheapest rate), you’ll also collect 2 nights stay as part of their loyalty programme. Once you’ve collected 10, you’ll get a free reward night!

However, if you’re wanting to keep the budget down, check out this cute little Airbnb instead which is just £32 a night.

You can get £25 off here if you haven’t used Airbnb before!


Between two, that means you could have yourself a cheap getaway from just £116 each!


THE REQUEST: GROUP GETAWAY TO AMSTERDAM

From: Liverpool
To: Amsterdam
When: 14th May
Duration: 4 nights
People: 10
Budget: £300 each

FLIGHTS

Liverpool to Amsterdam
Thurs 14th – Mon 18th May
EasyJet – who still allow small suitcases in hand luggage. Hurrah!
From £59

Note: this price is for 8 travellers – unfortunately you can’t book 10 at a time on Skyscanner though interestingly, this price is cheaper than booking for just 2 people by a few quid!

Top tip: Most airlines will do group bookings and whilst unfortunately it’s for a minimum of 15 for easyJet, it’s definitely worth keeping in mind as most give you the option to confirm the names of all your passengers last minute. This can be slightly more costly than if you booked in advance, but it can really take the stress out of organising big groups.

ACCOMMODATION

Now, I’m a bit nervous about trying to find a place for ten people as Amsterdam is NOTORIOUSLY SPENNY when it comes to places to stay.

This isn’t because it’s a super expensive destination, it’s just really popular and places get booked up fast, thus driving the price up so my biggest tip if you want to visit is book sooner rather than later!

From a quick look on Airbnb, I could see that there was absolutely nothing coming in under budget for a large group.

By thousands of pounds 😬😬😬

Well, apart from this which looked very promising but after clicking through the pictures I stumbled on this:

Do not trust anything that directs you away from Airbnb! This is totally against the rules and I wouldn’t be surprised if this gets pulled sooner or later.

I did find this Airbnb which comes in just over budget but boy, it looks a bit bleak for the money… I mean, where are the windows??!

Anyway, on with the search!

Next, I went over too hometogo which is like the trivago of holiday rentals – it searches loads of different sites including Airbnb, Homeaway and Booking.com, and brings you all the options in one place.

However, that wasn’t bringing up anywhere either!

Definitely me and not a stock image model thinking about how bad I’ve become at finding cheap holidays…

Time for PLAN B!

I’ve headed over to Booking.com’s apartments and what I’m looking for are smaller apartments that are in the same complex.

The only thing I found that could work was Cityden The Garden Amsterdam South – but if you haven’t clocked it from the name, it is 30 minutes from the city by public transport.

For 2 x two bedroom apartments (each has a sofa bed as well), the total cost would be £182.50 per person for 4 nights for ten people.

It looks lovely, but it seems quite far out, doesn’t it?

What about if we tried to find hotel rooms instead?

Just sneaking in – in budget – is the ibis Amsterdam City West. Whilst it’s still not super central, you’re not far from a metro that will get you to the main train station in a couple of minutes.

Selecting 2 x triple rooms and 2 x double rooms comes in at £221.80 a night each for 4 nights for ten people.

As a bargain hunter, I’m still not completely satisfied so my last search will be at the complete opposite that Sarah was looking for.

Hostels.

This time hopping over to hostelworld, where I find Clinknoord. A very well rated hostel in a fairly central location.

A 10 bed dorm with private bathroom for £179.30 each for 4 nights for ten people.

Jesus wept.

I’ve spent about an hour looking and these are genuinely the best deals I can find. So, do I have any final thoughts?

Yes.

Just go somewhere else.

🤣🤣🤣

If there’s one thing I can’t stand is paying a lot of money for something not that good.

Spending just 5 minutes looking at alternative options, I’ve already found flights from Liverpool to Barcelona for £91 and numerous apartments in the centre of the city that easy house 10 people.

See!

£217.20 each

All prices reflect accommodation only and other options:

£169.10 each

£164.74 each

£152.20 each

If you’re adamant that you want to go to Amsterdam – then find the accommodation first. Go to Airbnb and whack in your amount of guests without the dates. Find what you want and then check to see if it’s in budget, and when it’s available.

Then check for flight prices.

I hope that’s been on some help!!!


THE REQUEST: OCTOBER BUDAPEST WEEKEND FOR TWO

From: London
To: Budapest
Dates: 11th – 14th October
People: 2
Budget: £200

FLIGHTS

London to Budapest
Fri 11th – Mon 14th Oct
Wizzair – small hand luggage only
£107

But pssst, you can fly the 12th – 15th from just £53.

Accommodation

Budapest is yet another great city for getting great value out of your hotel, so let’s take a look at that first.

Heading to trivago, it does let me know that the Friday and the Saturday are more expensive than usual, so it may be that Airbnb is the way to go – but let’s see what we can rustle up.

The Malmaison Hotel Andrassy Budapest is extremely well rated and costs £90 a night.

Plus, as the cheapest price is with Hotels.com at the moment, you’d earn yourself 3 nights on their loyalty rewards programme where you get your 11th night for free.

However, I don’t think anything is gonna beat this BEAUTY from Airbnb which costs just £50 a night including fees.

(You can even get £25 off here if you haven’t used Airbnb before!)

Check out those high ceilings!

Between the two of you, that brings your three night trip to Budapest in for £182 each.

Okay, time for one more!


THE REQUEST: 50TH BIRTHDAY BREAK IN NEW YORK

From: Manchester
To: New York
Dates: April
Duration: 5 nights
People: 2
Details: 4* – it’s ma birthday innniiitt (okay fine Angela didn’t add that bit)

FLIGHTS

For this, I want to show you a brilliant function that Google Flights has.

As you can see above, once you pop your dates in, you can toggle the duration of the trip at the bottom which will really easily show you the best prices for the month you’re after.

THANK YOU GOOGLE.

So I’m going to go for the trip starting on the 22nd April et voila, a direct fare to New York with Virgin for just £319.

(Shit, people are going to start to realise that my cheap holiday skills aren’t that difficult to grasp… 🤣)

However, whilst Google have done the hard job for us here, they don’t always show the cheapest prices and so my next step is to put the dates into Skyscanner, and this is what comes up.

£302?!! YES PLEASE.

The reason Skyscanner is able to offer this cheaper is because, as you can see above, you’re actually buying from a third party. They are the exact same flights that you could book direct with Virgin, it’s just that these companies often offer discounts to entice you in.

Skyscanner do vet all their third party companies and clearly show how customers rate them.

I’ve used them many times before and have only once had an issue when the price had increased and so they returned my money. In hindsight, I should have known it was going to happen as the fare was half the price of what everyone else was offering 🤣 (god loves a trier!)

Okay, so we’ve got the flight, now onto…

ACCOMMODATION

Now, Angela wants 4* and as someone who’s often cursed the prices of nice hotels in New York, I’m gonna do something a little rogue here…

🎉 CUE PACKAGE HOLIDAY 🎉

Since our flight is with Virgin, it does make me wonder if Virgin Holidays will have a good deal for these dates…

The cheapest deal is at Row Nyc for £912 per person (other sites list it as a 4 star but Virgin use their own rating system).

To work out if that’s a deal, we need to pop to trivago and whack in the same hotel.

Once I click through, I can see that Travel Republic are offering the room for 5 nights for £857 – which once split between two and added to the flight price comes in at £730.50 per person.

FFS VIRGIN HOLIDAYS.

I WAS ROOTING FOR YOU.

WE WERE ALL ROOTING FOR YOU.

Goddam you Virgin Holidays.

However, before we call it a day, I want to see if I can find a slightly nicer hotel for Angela.

ANGELA’S 50TH DESERVES MORE THAN A 6.5 RATING OKAY?!

So this time sticking to trivago, I’ve whacked in the dates and used the filters to find us a 4* hotel with at least a 7.5 guest rating.

A Queen Room at the Westgate New York City is coming in at £148 per night on loveholidays (it’s £267 on Booking.com!)

That’s £672 pp in total for the whole holiday.

A double room at Renaissance New York Hotel 57 is £152 a night.

That totals £682 each for 5 nights and a flight.

And finally, this Queen Room at Hotel Indigo Lower East Side New York is just £185 a night if you book through loveholidays.

This hotel is GORGEOUS – check out the photos on Booking.com (in my opinion, they have the best gallery!) and also check out how much more expensive it is if you book with them 👀

This would cost £764.50 each for everything.

Have a great 50th birthday, Angela!


That’s everything fo this week’s holiday hotline.

Once again, I’m so sorry if I didn’t get to yours this week but unfortunately the business of finding the best deals isn’t quick work!

Remember, you can get involved in the next holiday hotline by simply following me over on Instagram and looking out for it on my stories.

Until next time!


I have used some affiliate links throughout this article. They don’t charge you more, but if you book through them you’ll be helping me to continue my cheap travel booking hobbies. For full transparency, I earn about 10p if you book a flight through a link so… Yeah, I’m rolling in it 😂

cheap september 2019 weekend breaks from all over the UK

Once a month, I join the wonderful Penny Smith on talkRADIO to share some holiday bargains.

This time, it was all about looking ahead to September for some great value weekend breaks.

For most of these deals, I’ve used a website called Cheeky Weekend which has been a REVELATION to me as someone who loves a trip that only takes up a single day of annual leave. But I’ll talk more about that at the end.


FROM LONDON

London Stansted to Gothenburg
Fri 27th Sep – Sun 29th Sep
Ryanair
£38

Gothenburg is Sweden’s second city, and a brilliant way to experience a bit of Scandi bliss without having to fork out an arm and a leg (we’re looking at you, Norway). 

  • Average September temperature – 17 degrees
  • Pint of beer – £5.79
  • Three course meal for 2 at mid range restaurant – £55.70
  • Cappuccino – £3.19
  • One way ticket on local transport – £2.44
  • For more prices, check out Numbeo!

Having been for a weekend break this year myself, I’d put the prices just a tad more expensive than London but there are plenty of options to choose from if you’re wanting to stick to a budget.

Airbnb
2 nights
£109.50 each
(you can get £25 off here if you haven’t used Airbnb before!)

This gorgeous Airbnb is close to the hip area of Haga which is full of cool bars, restaurants and shops. Plus, it has a cute balcony! Winner.

Total = £147.50 per person 

Check out what I got up to on my weekend trip to Gothenburg back in January!


FROM MANCHESTER
AND EDINBURGH

Manchester to Brussels South Charleroi
Fri 27th Sep – Mon 30th Sep
Ryanair
£30

You can also depart at 0750 on the Friday for just £42 return, or from Edinburgh between Thurs 19th – Mon 22nd Sep for just £39 return as well.

Now look. This isn’t Brussel’s main airport but if you don’t fancy stumping up £133 for a return to its International hub, then this is the one for you. There’s a shuttle bus that departs every half hour that costs £13 each way, and takes an hour to get into the city, and there’s even more cost effective options if you wanted to head straight to Bruges or Ghent.

Oh, that was a spoiler for what I’ve got planned…

Whilst Brussels may not be the sexiest of destinations, the great thing about it is its quick and easy connections to other parts of the country, and so why not make this a tri-city break and hit up the picturesque cities of Ghent and Bruges as well?

  • Average August temperature – 20 degrees
  • Pint of beer – £3.75
  • Three course meal for 2 at mid range restaurant – £56.22
  • Cappuccino – £2.84
  • One way ticket on local transport – £1.97
  • For more prices, check out Numbeo!

As we’re staying just one night in each place, let’s keep it simple and stick to hotels.

Fri 27th Sep – Brussels

Bedford Hotel & Congress Centre
3 star – 8.0 rating on Hotels.com
£57 a night / £28.50 each

Fancy a four star? Treat yourself to the highly reviewed Novotel Brussels City Centre for £41.50 each.

Sat 28th Sep – Ghent/Gent

Next stop on our trip is the idyllic city of Ghent. A place that always holds a special place in my heart after I visited as a 16 year old with my woodwind band. Yes, you read that right!!

Train from Brussels to Gent-Sint-Pieters
29 mins
£10.86

Hotel NH Gent Sint Pieters
4 star – 7.4 rating on Hotels.com
£106 a night / £53 each

Not far from the main train station, this hotel will allow you to easily drop off your bags before you head in further to explore.

The ibis Gent Centrum Opera is also pretty basic, but at £83 a night, it may work better for your budget!

Sun 29th Sep – Ghent

Next, we’re heading to the medieval town of Bruges.

Train from Gent-Sint-Pieters to Brugge
25 mins
£8.49

Whilst Brussels is more of a business destination (hence the well priced Friday night rooms), Bruges is a well known gorgeous getaway so the rooms can get pretty pricey over the weekend.

That’s why I’ve decided to put our stay on a Sunday night, when most are getting ready to go back to work.

For example, the following hotel would have cost £169 the night before!

Martin’s Brugge
3 star – 8.6 rating on Hotels.com
£80.35 / £40.18 each

There is a cheaper room, but I’ve gone for the Charming Double with bath which looks lush!

Want to go FANCY? Stay at the 5 star Hotel Duke’s Palace for just £77.55 a night each (it was £484 a room on the Saturday evening!)

Mon 30th Sep – Brussels

Enjoy the morning in Bruges before heading back to Brussels ahead of your flight home.

Train from Bruges to Brussels
59 mins
£15.89

What an action packed weekend! And here’s how much it would all cost:

Flight – £30
Return shuttle bus – £26
Trains – £35.24
Hotels – £121.68

Total = £212.92 each


FROM BRISTOL
AND LONDON

Bristol to Cologne
Fri 6th Sep – Sun 8th Sep
Ryanair
£76

Dramatic medieval architecture and numerous beer halls – what more could you want for a weekend getaway?

You can also fly the same dates from London Stansted for just £36!

  • Average August temperature – 20 degrees
  • Pint of beer – £3.28
  • Three course meal for 2 at mid range restaurant – £46.85
  • Cappuccino – £2.37
  • One way ticket on local transport – £2.72
  • For more prices, check out Numbeo!

art’otel Cologne
4 star – 8.6 rating on Booking.com
£86 each

Total = £162 per person
(or just £122 from London!)


FROM BELFAST
AND GLASGOW

Belfast to Wroclaw
Fri 20th Sep – Mon 23rd Sep
Ryanair
£60

You can also fly from Glasgow for the same dates for £85 return.

Whilst the flights may be more than the others, you can more than make up for it with the price of the accommodation.

What’s more, Wroclaw is a brilliant destination for a city break. Like most of Poland, your money will go far and what’s better than a holiday where you can eat our breakfast, lunch and dinner?

  • Average September temperature – 20 degrees
  • Pint of beer – £1.72
  • Three course meal for 2 at mid range restaurant – £23.67
  • Cappuccino – £1.92
  • One way ticket on local transport – 73p
  • For more prices, check out Numbeo!

Airbnb
3 nights
£59.50 each
(you can get £25 off here if you haven’t used Airbnb before!)

If you want to keep the price down once you’re actually there, then I definitely recommend taking a look into Poland.

Total = £119.50 each


FROM DONCASTER SHEFFIELD

Doncaster Sheffiled to Vilnius
Fri 20th Sep – Mon 23rd Sep
Wizzair
£61

Lithuania’s capital is becoming a really exciting destination. Whilst it may be compact, it has the largest medieval old town in central and eastern Europe. Expect fairytale style buildings and a bustling cafe culture.

Plus, it’s pretty damn cheap.

  • Average September temperature – 17 degrees
  • Pint of beer – £2.81
  • Three course meal for 2 at mid range restaurant – £32.80
  • Cappuccino – £2.05
  • One way ticket on local transport – 94p
  • For more prices, check out Numbeo!

Airbnb
3 nights
Self check in (good for that early morning arrival!)
£67 each
(you can get £25 off here if you haven’t used Airbnb before!)

Total = £128 each


How to find your own weekend bargains

As I mentioned, a few of these deals were found using a new website called Cheeky Weekend that’s been set up by two travel mad mates. I’m a big fan of supporting new startups and this is such an easy way to discover what weekend getaways are available in your price range.

The site currently works for departures from London, Belfast, Bristol, Dublin, Edinburgh and Manchester (there’s more to come!) and my favourite things is that you can set what time you’re able to sneak away from work at on a Friday.

The lads have a totally free version of the site available if you’re looking to getaway in the next 4 weeks.

There is a subscription fee (around £2 a month) if you’d like to unlock trips up to the next 6 months, but my recommendation would be to see how you fare with the free site first.

If you do want to sign up, you can get a 25% off your membership by using the code HOWMANYHOLIDAYS (I emailed Dave the CEO asking if he could give us a discount – CHEEKY). Since Dave’s a right gem, he’s set it up so that I will get a little kickback from this, but again, give the free site a go first before commiting to spend any money.

WE GOTTA KEEP IT SAVVY, GUYS.


If you want more cheap travel tips, give us a follow on Instagram or check out my YouTube.


I have used some affiliate links throughout this article. They don’t charge you more, but if you book through them you’ll be helping me to continue my cheap travel booking hobbies. For full transparency, I earn about 10p if you book a flight through a link so… Yeah, I’m rolling in it!