how to stay in luxury accommodation in Iceland on a budget

Here’s how you can stay in this luxury home in Iceland for just £27 a night.

With Iceland not being known as a ‘budget destination’, we were quite ready to spend our week traversing the ring road in pretty basic accommodation.

So imagine James’ face when we turned up here:

It is genuinely one of the most beautiful places I have ever stayed in.

But a place like this is likely to set you back hundreds of pounds a night, right?

Wrong.

Here slides in one of my favourite websites: Love Home Swap.

Love Home Swap is what it sounds like – a website that allows you to swap your home with other people across the globe.

Yet, if like me, you think ‘who in their right mind would swap their luxury pad for my gaff?’ then don’t be put off just yet, because they offer an alternative service that for me, has worked an absolute treat.

It’s called a points swap. Quite simply, instead of swapping our home, we swapped points to stay at this beautiful cabin in Iceland.

So how do I get points?

On joining the website, you’ll be allocated points. At the time of writing, these are the current rates:

Lite – 0 points
Standard – 200 points
Premium – 500 points

With my refer a friend link, you get 25% off your first year which brings the Premium membership to £9 a month. You do have to pay in full so this will set you back £108.

Whilst this can feel like a lot, let’s take the Icelandic home of DREAMS you’ve seen above as an example.

On Love Home Swap, it’s 220 points a night meaning that with the Premium membership, you can ‘afford’ to stay there for two nights.

Two nights = 440 points
Premium membership = £108

Therefore, the nightly price would equal £54 costing just £27 each if two of you were staying.

It’s worth saying that this place sleeps SIX (two doubles and two single beds), so if you were heading there with a group, it would be just £9 a night each.

Absolute madness.

Do I have to add my home when signing up?

Yes you do! The crux of this website is swapping your home with someone else, yet the points swap allows you to get started without having someone come and stay at your place.

Do I have to pay up before I’ve booked the place?

You do have to sign up before you can confirm a home but you will get a two week free trial when you sign up that allows you to message people and get something in place before you spend your money.

This is exactly what I did when I used Love Home Swap for the first time for a trip to New York. And look where we ended up!

How likely is it that we’ll find a place?

It depends on where you’re going. Big cities and popular tourist destinations will tend to have more options, but a lot of it does come down to whether the owner has availability, whether they’re wanting to do a points swap (some don’t offer this) and whether you have enough points!

I found it really difficult to find a place in New York and it took me four weeks (I had a month free trial) to bag my place. However with Iceland, I actually found four different places that would accept my points, so it all just depends!

Whatever you find, just make sure you put a reminder in to cancel your membership before your trial is up so that it doesn’t end up costing you a thing.

From my own experience, Love Home Swap’s customer service is brilliant and they were in constant contact with my during my free trial to see if they could help.

How easy is it to cancel?

You’re in touch with a real person by email and so cancelling would be very straightforward if that’s what you needed to do. You can also reach them by phone.

What tips would you give for finding a swap?

Love Home Swap is a community. Whilst they do now have some places that allow you to book ‘instantly’, this isn’t like booking a place on Booking.com or Airbnb. These are largely people’s homes and therefore you may have to wait a little longer for a response and you can’t demand services in the same way that you could with a hotel.

Also, you book homes through messages so my top tip would be to be personable and warm. Tell your potential hostees about yourself. Why are you visiting the area? What are you excited about? What do you like about their home?

If they’ve got five different people offering the same deal, what would make them choose you over the others?

Also, especially if you sign up for the Premium service, you get access to the site’s dedicated ‘Swap Team’ who can find places that match your wants. Use this! It’s their job to help and it will make your search so much easier.

Do you offer a discount?

Why YES I DO cheers for asking pal 🤣 Love Home Swap have a refer a friend scheme that’s open to all their members which gives mates 25% off the prices online. This is genuinely the cheapest way for you to sign up:

2 weeks free trial and 25% off

What do I get in return? 3 months free membership! Cheers lads.

Are you getting paid to tell me all this?

No. I’ve been a full paying member of Love Home Swap for two years and will continue paying whether people use my link or not. In my second year I paid £180 for my standard membership and having already stayed four nights in Napa and two nights in Iceland, it’s more than paid for itself already.

I’ve used all my points up, what do I do now?

I would absolutely recommend getting involved with the Love Home Swap community and accepting points swaps of your own! We’ve had a few people stay at our place when we were away and the points we’ve earned have allowed us to continue our cheap travels.

I don’t fancy home swapping – can I still do an Icelandic road trip for a similar price?

Absolutely. I already had two guesthouses lined up if Love Home Swap didn’t work out.

The first was Centric Guesthouse in Reykjavik .

£33.50 a night each for a double room with private bathroom.

We would have then got on the road first thing in the morning and made our way over to do the Golden Circle.

The second night would have been staying properly nestled into the Golden Circle route in Flagbjarnarholt (catchy) at Elin Guesthouse.

£30 a night each with a shared bathroom, but this property had an outdoor hot tub!

Sure, they’re not as fancy as where we ended up but both are clean and highly rated. They also have access to a shared kitchen meaning that you can really keep costs down when you’re on the road.

Coming up, we’ll be staying in a similar guest house so check back for what we made of it!

the best places to drink beer in munich – with local recommendations

Before we crack on with the beer chat, if cocktails are more your thing, scroll down to the bottom for my list of recommendations that come straight from the locals!


Thanks in large part to the city’s larger than life annual beer festival, Oktoberfest, Munich is the go to destination if you’re looking to sink a few pints.

Oktoberfest serves beer from six breweries, coined ‘the big six’ which each brag lively beerhalls, alive with cantankerous singing and the oom-pah-pah of their raucous bands. Each welcome in rafts of tourists hoping to nail the true Bavarian experience.

And whilst we definitely wanted to do this as well, we were also really keen to find out:

  • Who serves the cheapest pint in the city?
  • Are there any microbreweries in the city?
  • Where can you drink beer whilst also enjoying Munich’s trendy bar scene?
  • And what historic pub features a ploy to make newbies buy the whole bar a round after one simple mistake?! (Niche? Never!)

So here we have it then. Our alternative beer tour of Munich:

Augustiner-Keller

Keeping things traditional, we started at Augustiner-Keller which pours the city’s oldest pint (well, not literally). The brew dates back to 1328 when the Augustinian Monks decided to craft a bevvie that was safer to drink that the polluted water at the time. Nice one lads!

Cost = €7,80 for 1 litre

It was a really nice beer – super delicious – and I tell ya, 1 litre at the start sure goes straight to your head!

The crowd was a nice mix of tourists and German families and friends, enjoying lunchtime together. Out of all of the beerhalls, this is thought of as a more ‘local’ experience.

The food was also excellent – proper traditional German fare – and I may or may not have accidentally ordered six sausages… (Back on the quorn when I’m home – honest).

Whilst we visited in Winter, this is a great place to come when the sun is shining as their beer garden has 5,000 seats!

Cafe Kosmos

Next, we headed to Cafe Kosmos which we heard was a great place to nab a bargain beer.

Cost = €1,30 for 0.3 litre.

It wasn’t a particularly special taste but if you’re on a budget, what a winner.

Its ‘rough around the edges’ feel lends to the laidback vibe and the array of Barbie dolls featured throughout were entertaining in the least…

A real local spot with a shit ton of character.

Stehausschank

This place was our favourite.

There used to be a load of standing bars across the city but this is the last remaining and it’s exactly what it sounds like. A bar. Where you stand.

This place doesn’t seem to have any place online but we simply searched this and headed to the place marked on Google Maps. Do not get it confused for one of the new standing bar additions, Giesinger Stehausschank.

Now there’s something VERY IMPORTANT you need to know about this particular bar and that’s on approaching the hatch where you order you beer, do NOT ring the bell next to it.

This is because whoever rings the bell is BOUND to buy every single person in the standing bar a beer. It’s written clearly to the side of the bell, but only in German, so I’d love to know the number of tourists who have got this wrong! Hahaha.

Fortunately, we were saved by a wonderful local who basically shouted ‘DO NOT TOUCH THE BELLLLLL’ as my hand wavered up towards it. What a hero.

They serve Giesinger beer which is NOT one of the big six – but we’ll explain a little more about them later.

Cost = €3,20 for 0.5 litres

We particularly liked this place because it was so tiny, you simply had to chat to the other people there! I’d found out about this place on a Time Out list yet one local said she was surprised to see us in there – so perhaps it’s not quite as popular as the other usual haunts?

Hofbräuhaus

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Ein Prosit

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Here we go then.

Known as the ‘world’s most famous tavern’, Hofbräuhaus is a beer institution and whilst we knew it was a top tourist destination, we still wanted to check what all the fuss was about.

I was particularly wowed by its gorgeously painted ceilings but in all honesty, it was JUST TOO BUSY. 

We did managed to find a table but it took a while to get someone’s attention to order and it was really missing the local feel for us.

Cost = €4,70 for 0.5 litre

It is worth saying that there’s normally a Bavarian band playing music which I’m sure would liven things up – but they seemed to be a on a break when we were there.

I’d still recommend going along, but try and head there at an off-peak time so you can experience it before it becomes overrun! 

Giesinger Bräustüberl

Remember I mentioned that beer that wasn’t part of the big six? Well this is where it comes from!

Giesinger is a smaller, more modern, brewery which makes a whole host of craft beers. Whilst it may not be an official beverage for the yearly Oktoberfest, it’s a brilliant alternative if you’re hoping to sample the city’s wares.

Cost = €3,50 for 0.5 litres 

Having read online that they sometimes turn tourists away over locals, I was a bit nervous on whether we’d get a spot (especially on a Saturday around 6pm) but we got lucky and got the last two seats at the bar. I think the fact that we wanted to eat too, definitely helped.

You can book ahead here, so I’d deffo recommend this as it’s not as central as the other spots (we uber-ed it there in 10 minutes for around 8 euros).

They’ve got a huge choice of craft beers – their own, and many more – so it’s definitely a great spot to check out.

Trisoux

Having necked around 5 pints already, James proclaimed that he was ‘full up’ of beer and so for our next spot, we wanted somewhere that not only served beer, but cocktails too.

Trisoux was recommended by a local via Instagram and it was a really cool bar that was filling up with friends meeting for an early evening beverage or twelve.

Cost = €4 for 0.5 litre

What was great was that the beer on tap was Löwenbräu which, you’ve guessed it, is another big six player so it was a great way to sample that without being squished into a beerhall. It felt quite sophisticated in fact!

James, instead, went for a sherry and soda.

Seriously. 

I’m disgusted.

And thus endeth our alternative beer tour!

Alternative local recommendations

Before you go!

As mentioned above, I did reach out to a few Munich based instagrammers to get their insider tips and the three who got back to me were so helpful.

In general, they all said they avoided the ‘beer’ drinking places but they gave me a raft of bars that they’d hang out in instead.

Here’s what they had to say:

Tobi

Daniel

Charlie

Thank you so much to all three of them for sharing their knowledge – go and follow them to if you’ve found their lists helpful!

the ultimate warsaw guide | practical tips you must know before visiting poland’s capital

This ultimate guide to Poland’s capital will clue you up on transport, accommodation, activities and so much more – so you can spend less time faffing, and more time enjoying your trip!

how expensive is a weekend in warsaw? | vlog

Visiting Poland can be super cheap but what about its capital, Warsaw? Well, we decided to try our best to wine, dine and get cultured with a budget of just £100 each.

Could this be the most affordable European city break EVERRRR??!!

Important to note that we didn’t change our normal holidaying habits to keep this under budget because we wanted to show just how much it would cost to go, explore and enjoy a few treats.

NEW: Competitions tab!

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Notice anything different around here?

That’s right, there’s now a ‘competitions‘ section of this website which will be updated weekly. Because what’s better than a holiday? A free holiday, of course!

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Why not bookmark the site, or follow me on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter where I’ll post weekly reminders.

GOOD LUCK!

san francisco road trip to napa & yosemite on a budget

I’ve just realised I never posted the link to my latest video!

What started out as a work trip to Istanbul and LA (I make radio docs for those of you who don’t know!) turned into an amazing getaway to Napa and Yosemite in California.

Now, with work paying for my flights, that was all taken care of but as for the day to day… Jeez. What happened to the days when the US was a cheap destination? It was PRICEY! Yet, we still managed to find a way to do it for less…

top tips on finding the best black friday travel deals

IMG_5834.JPG#ad #BlackFriday #Expedia

The wonderful thing about being obsessed about finding travel deals is that when a brand you know and love gets in touch and says things such as ‘we’re offering up to 75% off hotels for Black Friday, does that interest you?’ it’s the easiest decision in the world.

So here is a post brought to you by yours truly – and Expedia.

Here’s the deal. On Friday 23rd November at 9am, they’ll be releasing a hotel coupon from here that could see you saving up to 75% off (fan me down, lads).

This can only be used on their app so make sure you’ve got it downloaded and ready to go at 9am before someone else (read: me) swipes a bargain from right underneath your nozzle.

DOWNLOAD ME NOW

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As I’m also in the market for a hotel or two at the moment (when am I not?), I also got thinking about all the things that can help make Black Friday shopping an ease and not an effort. Starting with…

1. Mark your calendar

This year, Black Friday lands on Friday 23rd November however some brands may start to trickle out the deals a few days before and after.

2. Research

The best way to get a good deal is to prepare and have a think about where you’d like to go.

On my list at the moment is:

  • Santiago in Chile
  • Cape Town in South Africa
  • The Azores in Portugal

(so HOLLER AT ME if you see any deals for these come up)

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Who fancies a trip to the Azores with me?

So, what we all need to do before Black Friday is research those destinations a bit more:

  • Who flies there?
  • What routes do they take?
  • Will I need a visa?
  • Will I need to get injections?
  • When is a good time to visit?

Sure, you might find a proper cheap flight but if you find out you’re there for monsoon season and your £100 visa won’t even come back in time, you’ll be gutted.

3. Get ready

As you may need to pounce on a deal, it’s definitely worth asking yourself the following questions:

  • How much time can you take off?

Check your holiday allowances and remember, if you haven’t booked Christmas off yet (and you’re on a standard UK full time contract), you’ll need 4 days to take off between 22nd Dec – 1st Jan.

  • Can you get the time off work?

If you’ve got some dates in mind, it’s worth putting some feelers out with whoever controls your holiday allowance. In the very least, check when you definitely couldn’t take time off to avoid disappointment.

  • Who would you go with?

Be it a mate or a date, get them on board now. That, or just embark on your own solo adventure which makes things a hell of a lot easier to organise!

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I tend to holiday with the ‘housemate’…

  • Do you have everyone’s details?

Get all the travellers passport details ready to go!

  • How much can you spend?

This is really important because sales are EXCITING and before you know it, you’ve plonked £400 on your credit card that you can’t really afford. If you’re travelling with others, agree on your budget, and factor in a maximum price you’d go to if you find something proper lush.

  • Do you have the money?

Most sites will need you to put the full amount onto one card so if you’re going away with someone else, make sure you’ve got enough to cover the cost

4. Bookmark, follow and download

Now you’ve got an idea of where you’re going, it’s time to bookmark websites, follow social media accounts and download apps in preparation.

A good trick on Twitter is to create a list of airlines, hotel groups and comparison sites, which will compile all their social accounts in one place.

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If I was being coy, this is where I’d slip in the old ‘oh, did you know Expedia are up to something fun too?’ trick but I feel like I’ve blown that already. So, all I’m gonna say, again, is UP TO 75% OFF ON THEIR APP! DOWNLOAD IT NOW!

5. Check that you’re actually getting a deal

  • Check the location – nobody wants to stay 25km from where they intended
  • Check the reviews
  • And lastly, check what price it usually retails at

Right, I’m off to limber up for Black Friday morning. Do come and join me on Instagram where I’ll be sharing what I discover!

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