gdańsk was the city i never planned to love

I really did just book this because it was cheap.

I mean, with £16 flights and £33 for 2 nights in a cute, polished apartment, there wasn’t much to argue with.

But I actually didn’t expect to properly fall in love with its amber peddling, quiet majesty and old town charm.

With an exceptional array of places to eat, drink and be merry, Gdańsk is now officially my go to recommendation to all in search of a short and cheap (emphasis on the latter) European break.

So what are you waiting for? Get on Skyscanner and find that flight!

the paris vlog

So as well as general cat sitting, we also got out and about to enjoy the many sights of Paris!

Paris often splits opinion but my top tip would be to choose an area and really get to know it. In the past, this has been around Montmartre (still my favourite area) but this year we really enjoyed moseying around Le Marais – lots of cool shops and coffee stations – WHEN THEY’RE BLOODY OPEN. (Note, a lot of Paris go on holiday during August).

James had never visited Disney in any capacity before so we decided to pop along. We just wish it wasn’t on the day after a rather messy night out… Rollercoaster rides and tequila regret DO NOT GO WELL.

Since our cat sit was free, this trip cost a mere £50 – the price of our eurostar there and back. It also ticked off one of my ‘5 days or more’ stipulations. Get in.

With 3 holidays left to go, there’s £576.82 left in the kitty.

Bring it on.

how did we get this beautiful house in paris for free? | holiday seven

Felt more than a bit lucky with this one – but it’s a pretty simple trick for getting free accommodation in not just Paris, but many cities across the globe!!

how to get your airbnb for half the price

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Airbnb is bloody great but when you’re trying to get a bargain, you don’t have winter sales and promo codes to help you get the price down – or do you?

What many people don’t realise is that whilst Tara has stated that her flat in Knightsbridge is £290 a night, she – as an Airbnb host – has an option to send potential stayees (yes that’s a real word) a ‘special offer’.

I.E. IT’S TIME TO GET YOUR HAGGLE HAT AND YOUR BARTERING BROGUES ON LADS

You could give this a go in any situation, but here are the two scenarios where bartering can be particularly successful:

  • You’re staying a decent amount of time – there’s a lot of work that comes with checking people in and out so if you’re looking for a place for a week or more, owners will be much more open to having you stay rather than 7 different people across 7 different nights
  • They haven’t filled their room/home and time is running out – this is riskier as it could mean you’re left without, yet you could always book a back up hotel room with a great cancellation policy so that you’ve got something to fall back on

I decided to go with the latter whilst plotting a UK break for holiday number six after realising just how bloody pricey staying in the homeland can be.

Here’s what I did:

STEP ONE – Compile

One week before, I searched for available rooms and homes in a whole host of places within a 2 hour train ride of London – notably Oxford, Brighton and Margate.

I created a new ‘wish list’ and popped them all in – this is a great tool as it automatically updates what’s available.

I found 40 places in total.

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STEP TWO – Wait

Whilst checking and then seeing the place you were secretly lusting for get booked up is THE PITS, it’s worth checking in a couple of times over the next 4 or 5 days to see how things are shaping up.

STEP THREE – Pounce

Two days before you intend to go away should be a good point to put some feelers out there.

When I clicked back on, I saw that just 10 places were still available – I said it was risky, didn’t I?! – and the next step was to schmooooooze.

Done in the form of a ‘oh me? I’m just super casual this is helping you more/oh god please house me’ message:

Hi XXX,

Your place looks absolutely beautiful!

My boyfriend and I both work in radio in London and after a rather hectic week at work (and we’re only three days in!), we’ve decided to try and get out of the city, get some of that sea air and hit ‘refresh’.

Our plan would be to explore the area and sample whatever delights the local restaurants and bars have to offer!

Our budget for staying 2 nights is £XX including Airbnb’s service fee which I understand is under what you’re currently looking for, but if you’re wanting to fill your place with respectful guests who you wouldn’t see much of – then look no further!

I look forward to hearing from you.

Chelsea

STEP FOUR – Wait again…

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All my messages got a reply (thank you, kind Airbnb brethren).

8 said they were actually booked but they hadn’t updated their calendar (bahhh)

1 said ‘can you check back in tomorrow?’

and 1 said ‘yeah sure!’

GREAT SUCCESS.

So how much did we save?

My bartering meant that we were able to get a super cute room (with its own bathroom and living room) in Margate down from £105 to £80. Not too bad?

It’s worth saying that the ‘can you check back in tomorrow?’ place would have been an entire house in Brighton for £90 down from £180! So there’s definitely some massive deals to be had.

Extra saving

As it’s always me doing the booking around here, this was James’ FIRST EVER BOOKING on Airbnb meaning he had a £30 welcome offer from a friend, bringing our final cost to a mere £25 each.

If you’ve never used Airbnb before, you can also get some moola off by being referred to a friend. The new rules at Airbnb say I can’t just offer this out willy-nilly (and still holding out to be the face of short rentals) but if you’re a ‘mate’, you’ll know that my DMs are open on Twitter should you need a link.

Fancy seeing how we got on?

the two sides of benidorm vlog and the halfway update

After business class flights, the holiday was always going to have a lot to live up to but BOY did Beni have a crackin’ good go at it!!!

Along with our flights at £216, our hotel cost a mere £72 each for 3 nights meaning that our business class holiday came in at £288 each.

And with half the holidays done, how’s the challenge looking?

I’ve already:

  • Been on 5 holidays
  • Visited 2 continents (Europe and Asia)
  • Flown business class
  • Taken 9 days annual leave

And, with only £667 of my original £1709 budget, I still need to tick off:

  • At least 5 more holidays
  • One more continent
  • Two 5 nights or more stays
  • All within my remaining annual leave allowance (19 days left!)

That works out at just £133.40 for each of the remaining 5 holidays which… Erm… Bollocks. That seems like a stretch, doesn’t it?

Let’s just say, I don’t think any more business class flights will be on the cards!!!

holiday five vlog | business class to benidorm

How did I forget to post this bad boy?! Yes, holiday five sees me tick off that illustrious ‘business class’ flight. And where to? Benidorm, of course!

Flying with British Airways, business class wasn’t quite as pricey as I had initially feared when I first plonked it on my ‘must do’ list. Costing £216, it included priority check in, two pieces of luggage, access to the business class BA lounge, priority boarding, food and drink on board and priority baggage on arrival (ours was second out which was bloody GREAT).

Whilst the seats themselves weren’t anything fancy (you got a ‘spare’ seat in between you and the person next to you), for around £100 more than an economy ticket I can definitely see why people would upgrade as a bit of a treat. Especially when I realised that the alcohol in the lounge was FREE POUR.

James was so enamoured by it all that he declared ‘I refuse to fly any other way’.

Well, that certainly doesn’t bode too well for his involvement in the rest of this challenge…