holiday hotline #3 – summer in Ljubljana, European mini moons, £150 family accommodation, cosy UK stay, Dublin departures & Seville group stays

Once a week, I open up the holiday hotline to see what travel queries I can answer from you guys.

So let’s see what’s on the cards this week!

THE REQUEST: 3-5 nights in Ljubljana in July or August

Will got in touch and gave me the following brief:

  • Ljubljana
  • Flights & accommodation
  • July/August
  • 3-5 nights
  • Based in Shrewsbury but can fly from anywhere

Slovenia’s capital, Ljubljana, is getting some real traction at the moment and with the average cost of a pint coming in at £2.20, I CAN SEE WHY!

There’s lots to see and do in the city and you’re also not too far from the devastatingly beautiful Lake Bled!

Flights

Since Will is coming from Shrewsbury, his nearest airports are Liverpool, Manchester, Sheffield and Birmingham. Unfortunately, only Manchester flies direct and DAMN it’s expensive (and only once a week). However, I have found a couple of cheap one stop options from Manchester – albeit with lengthy layovers in Brussels.

£108

£125

However, the best prices for direct are – you guessed it – from London.

3 night trips

London to Ljubljana
Fri 16th Aug – Mon 19th Aug
£112

London to Ljubljana
Sun 14th July – Weds 17th July
£98

4 night trips

London to Ljubljana
Mon 15th July – Fri 19th July
£103

Top tip: Skyscanner has a great calendar view that normally shows really easily the cost of a return flight, HOWEVER, it was not playing ball with this combination and kept showing up blank dates.

Therefore, I headed over to Google Flights instead which was much clearer in its prices.

It’s a great tool, just once you find the cheapest option, do check the dates on Skyscanner and Momondo once more to check you’re getting the best price.

For Will’s query, I’m going to go for the 3 night trip between Sun 14th July – Weds 17th July for £98.

Let’s crack on with the accommodation!

Accommodation

First of all, let’s take a look at a central apartment.

With Airbnb, the average entire home is coming in around £103 but I’ve found this cute and well rated studio for just £73 a night.

Airbnb
£219 total for 3 nights
(you can get £25 off here if you haven’t used Airbnb before!)

If he fancies something lighter, brighter and with a balcony, I also found this home for £85 a night.

Airbnb
£255 total for 3 nights
(you can get £25 off here if you haven’t used Airbnb before!)

There’s also two separate beds should he be travelling with someone he’d rather not share a bed with 😂

Lastly, let’s have a quick look at hotels.

As always, I recommend hopping over to trivago and using the filters to help narrow down your results. For this, I’m selecting 3 star+, a guest rating of 7.5+ and near the city centre.

Quickly I found the 4 star Grand Hotel Union which is super central, extremely well rated and £97 a night including free breakfast.

Grand Hotel Union
£291 total for 3 nights

Another great find is this 4 star hotel that’s just £78 a night and even includes breakfast.

Central Hotel
£234 for 3 nights

However, if Will’s wanting to keep the budget small, there’s also this super affordable option which is just 850 yards from the old town, is very well rated and is just £53.33 a night.

AURA Guesthouse Ljubljana
£160 for 3 nights

This means that this 3 night getaway could cost Will and his travel partner as little as £178 each – not too shabby, eh?


THE REQUEST: September mini moon with beautiful views

Joanne asked for:

  • Mini moon
  • September
  • Beautiful views
  • Nice food
  • Europe

I’ve been lusting after this hotel for AGES so please Joanne, go live out my dreams for me!!

Gillham Vineyard Hotel
Cyprus
Adults only (the mini moon dream????!)
Rates start from £114.47 and come with breakfast and a bottle of wine
Half board options are also available

The restaurant on site is great, and you’re not too far to head out in a hire car to explore what other foodie options Cyprus has to offer! I’d recommend looking at the Rose Suites which come with their own balcony overlooking the vineyard – and the great news is that they’re not even the most expensive type of room!


THE REQUEST: Family accommodation for £150 total in school holidays

So this next one for Abbie is TOUGH! She’s after:

  • Between 25th July – 31st August
  • 3-7 days
  • 2 adults and 2 kids
  • £150 all in

I tried using Ryanair’s fare finder but the closest cheap flight I could find in this date range was £33.80 return to Dortmund in Germany which would have only left £14 for the accommodation…

So it looks like it’s going to be a UK stay!

Whilst this is a super tight budget, the good thing is that you can search ‘United Kingdom’ on Airbnb and then bring down your budget.

I’ve popped in £50 a night and here’s what I’ve found that wasn’t a tent in a field (honestly way too many of them on Airbnb???)

Airbnb – 2 double rooms
Tillicoultry – 20 min drive from Stirling, Scotland
£46 a night
(you can get £25 off here if you haven’t used Airbnb before!)

Airbnb – 2 double rooms
Blantyre – 20 min drive from Glasgow, Scotland
£46 a night
(you can get £25 off here if you haven’t used Airbnb before!)

Whilst this one has no reviews yet, this is a great way to bag a place for a cheaper price as the cost is usually low as they try to get their first bookings!

Another great website to try searching is hometogo which is the world’s largest holiday rental search engine.

Unfortunately there wasn’t anything available coming in at under £50 a night – but it’s definitely one worth checking in the future if you’re after an apartment or villa. Airbnb is not the only option!

My last search was on trivago as it could be that we could swipe a family room for a good price!

Holiday Inn Aberdeen West
Aberdeen, Scotland
Queen room with sofa bed
£43 a night

Hampton By Hilton
Aberdeen, Scotland
Family room with free breakfast
£50 a night

Holiday Inn Express Stafford
Stafford, England
Family room with free breakfast
£54 a night

Okay, perhaps Aberdeen and Stafford aren’t the most ‘traditional’ holiday destinations, but both would serve a great base for exploring the area!

CURVEBALL

Now these don’t work for the exact dates but house sitting can mean totally free accommodation so if you wanted to get out of the UK, this may be a good option to look into.

I’ve used Nomador twice before (it’s free to sign up and message three owners) and from a quick peruse I’ve found two housesits in France that could work a treat. One even has its own pool!

Normandy housesit with pool – 20th July – 27th July

Parisian apartment – 25th July to 5th Aug

Here’s all my tips on bagging that free house sit!

THE REQUEST: One night cosy UK stay for cheap

This one comes from Roushan who’s after:

  • End of July
  • One night
  • Easy to get to from London
  • Cosy to chill in
  • Super cheap!

If you’re after super cheap, a really good place to look for a cute place is definitely Airbnb as you’re likely to get much more space for your money – and if you’re lucky, you may get an additional living room space to chill out in.

To help narrow down the search, I’ve decided to look for Saturday 27th July 2019:

Airbnb – Farm Home Annex
Stanton near Bury St Edmunds – 1 hr 47 mins drive from London
£49 a night
(you can get £25 off here if you haven’t used Airbnb before!)

B&B in Georgian House
Wymondham near Norwich – 2 hour drive from London
£65 a night
(you can get £25 off here if you haven’t used Airbnb before!)

Airbnb – Studio flat
Thorpe Langton – cute village in Leicestershire – 2 hour drive from London
£64 a night
(you can get £25 off here if you haven’t used Airbnb before!)

Whilst the next options aren’t quite as cheap, they’re much closer to London and they also tick the ‘couples break’ box really well as they both feature on Mr and Mrs Smith – a hotel site that compiles chic stays for romantic getaways.

Aviator
Farnborough – 1 hour 30 mins drive from London
Views across their private airfield
£105 a night

And finally, I’m adding in this one because you can get there via the overground from London meaning you’ll cut down significantly on your travel costs.

The Crown Hotel
Amersham – Zone 6 on Metropolitan Line (peak – £7 / off peak = £4.10)
This was the inn from Four Weddings and a Funeral!
£122 a night

I’ve stayed at this place before and it just serves up so many country pub vibes. I loved it!

Not quite as close for Roushan but still worth sharing are:

Airbnb – Private Room
South Yorkshire
£35 a night

Airbnb – Private guesthouse
Derbyshire
£58 a night

THE REQUEST: Edinburgh to Tokyo trip in April 2020

Liam wanted:

  • Edinburgh to Tokyo
  • April 2020
  • 1 week

Whilst I’ve ran out of time to plan Liam’s whole trip for him, I can recommend staying at The Millennials pod hotel. IT’S AMAZING!

I did a full review with pictures about my stay in their Kyoto hotel and it was just such a good experience.

The Millennials Shibuya
Tokyo
Upcoming rates from £45 a night

You can also watch how our stay went down for yourself!

REQUEST: Hot summer holiday from Dublin

Viv has asked for:

  • Dublin to anywhere cheap af
  • Touristy
  • Flight out Weds
  • July or Aug
  • Warm please

Here’s some flights that might help you on your way, Viv. Lisbon is one of my FAVOURITE cities and it’s really affordable, especially for a capital.

The same goes for Madrid – check out last week’s hotline where I spoke about this more in full!

Palma in Majorca is more of the ‘touristy’ vibe you may be after and if you find yourself your own villa, you could save so much money on food and drink across the week.

Dublin to Lisbon
£88

Dublin to Lisbon
£73

Dublin to Lisbon
£82

Dublin to Madrid
£55

Dublin to Palma
£73

REQUEST: Seville rental for group stay

Sean’s off to Seville with his mates and has already bagged himself some cheap flights. So what does he need?

  • Accommodation for 4 people
  • 5 nights between 4th – 9th Sep
  • 3 beds – no sofa beds
  • Kitsch vibe

This was actually a lot harder than I thought it would be, but here are some great value options that I rustled up:

City Centre Sevilla ARCO MACARENA
£543 total – £135.75 each

This apartment currently doesn’t have many reviews so maybe it’s worth enquiring and asking if they have any more reviews (they may have this listed elsewhere!) before booking. However, what they lack in reviews they make up for in PRICE!

Airbnb
£565 total – £141.65 each
(you can get £25 off here if you haven’t used Airbnb before!)

And whilst the next one would cost £314 each, I couldn’t resist click on this place 😍😍😍

Luxury loft with pool in Seville centre
£1259 total – £314.75 each


And because I couldn’t resist, I did two quick ones on insta as well:

London – Lisbon
Thurs 8th Aug – Sun 11th Aug
£201

And the great news is that unlike Ryanair and Wizzair, TAP still allows 8kg for hand luggage (55x40x20), as well as an additional small personal item- such as a handbag – up to 2kg.

Accommodation wise, Amy was looking for somewhere lux for her and her girls (and didn’t mind paying for the pleasure) so I recommend getting on trivago, whacking in 5 stars and seeing what she can find in budget. I’m also a big fan on the Telegraph’s best hotel lists.

But if their own places is what they’re after, these options are pretty nice too!

Designer Penthouse Apartment
4 bedrooms – 5 bathrooms
£665 a night – £332.50 total each

I initially found this as one of Airbnb’s ‘plus’ range (‘hand picked high quality homes known for great reviews) yet I actually found it on tripadvisor for £400 cheaper across 3 days! (Always shop around!!)

Stylish apartment with terrace
5 bedrooms – 3 bathrooms
£527 a night – £263.50 total each


Lastly, Abi asked about car insurance and my tips are always:

  • Compare costs on Skyscanner
  • Check if local firms are cheaper (you may need to use Google Translate for this!)
  • When chosen, opt for the basic insurance package
  • Buy additional excess insurance from moneymaxim separately – you will save a FORTUNE and it’s fully endorsed by Martin Lewis and his crew
  • We saved £54 by doing this on a recent 4 day car hire in Croatia!

THAT’S A WRAP!

Again, so sorry if I didn’t get around to your request but I hope the above may have given you some tips or offered some general holiday inspo that you may be able to use in the future.

Make sure to give me a follow on Instagram if you want to be involved in the next one – and let me know if you end up booking any of these!

Let’s end with a photo of me drunk, sat in a basket from my holiday in Croatia last week.

Lovely.


I have used 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 🤣

holiday hotline #2 – aug bank holiday getaways, manchester to barcelona, scottish road trips and cheap new york accommodation

Following the success of. the first holiday hotline (Will is currently planning his trip to Jordan – wahey!) I thought I’d get back on the search to find someone else a proper great holiday for less.

Make sure you’re following me on Instagram so that you know when the next hotline is live!

THE REQUEST: August bank holiday birthday fun – 4 days – somewhere hot

So, this week’s main hotline request comes in from Vicky who’s wanting a getaway over the August bank holiday as it’s her birthday that Friday and her work give her the DAY OFF – what a perk!

Heres what she’s after:

  • Ideally leave on evening of Thurs 22nd Aug
  • 4 days but could take more time off
  • Somewhere hot
  • Going with someone so can share a room

So, where are we going?

Looking at Thursday eve – Monday, there were plenty of options under £50 (including Cologne, Copenhagen, Oslo and Gothenburg) yet none were really giving that ‘hot’ vibe that Vicky was hoping to get.

Unfortunately, flights to warmer destinations such as Lisbon (one of my faves) were starting at £150 so I made the decision to change the return date to Tuesday 27th August instead.

London to Madrid
Thurs 22nd Aug – Tues 27th Aug
£84
(there’s also a flight back at 1310 for £94)

Why Madrid?

As the Spanish capital, there’s so much to see and do but having visited recently, I was really enamoured by the fact that it didn’t come with big city price tag.

With many menu del dia’s (three course lunches with wine – HALLOH) costing less than €10 and €1,20 rides on their well linked metro system, you’ll find that your money goes pretty far in this capital city.

Toledo

As well, with its brilliant connections, you can easily get a train out of the city and visit the UNESCO sites of Toledo and Salamanca, or how about a day trip to Madrid’s Wine Country?

As for the weather, Madrid in the summer gets HOT and August hits an average of 31 degrees – there’s a siesta for a reason. Which is why I think it’s important to find Vicky a hotel with not only some decent air con, but also some outdoor space and maybe, if we’re lucky, a pool.

Where are we staying then?

For this, I simply hopped on trivago and changed my filters to include:

  • Up to £100 a night
  • 3-5 star
  • Guest rating 7.5+
  • City centre location
  • With pool (fingers crossed)

With trivago, I always leave a bit of wiggle room with the price because annoyingly, they only filter based on the price they offer you in bold which is not always the cheapest price out there. That can be found by clicking on ‘more deals’.

Always click on ‘more deals’ for the best price

So, as you can see above, if we’d been looking for a room that cost £85 or less, this option wouldn’t have come up.

SNEAKY.

As Vicky will be staying 5 nights, I’m going to try and find a place around £80 a night so that she and her travel partner aren’t going to be spending more than £200 on accommodation each.

Option 1

Axel Hotel Madrid
£82 a night (£41 each)

  • 4 star with cool, quirky style
  • Very highly rated
  • Rooftop pool and terrace
  • Air con in every room
  • Adults only (no offence kids but HELL YEAH!)
  • Bizarrely would cost you £187 a night if you booked direct
  • Better photos can be found here (Booking.com always create such good picture galleries!)

I wouldn’t have picked up on this at all had I not checked out their own site, but Axel Hotels are a chain that focus on the LGBTIQ+ community who are proudly heterofriendly! They welcome everyone, no matter their sexual orientation, without prejudice which I think is a great business to support.

Option 2

H10 Puerta de Alcalá
£87 a night (£43.50 each)

  • 4 star with super chic decor
  • Very well rated
  • Incredible rooftop pool and terrace (H10 always NAIL this)
  • Air con
  • Again, you can peruse a better photo gallery (in my opinion) here

Option 3

Airbnb – Duplex with terrace in Central Madrid
£74.40 a night (£37.20 each)
(you can get £25 off here if you haven’t used Airbnb before!)

  • Well rated with great reviews
  • Okay so NO POOL – but you do have your own cute terrace
  • The sofa bed means that two adults could have a bed each
  • Air conditioning
  • A kitchen with everything you could need to help you save money on food whilst in Madrid

So how much is this costing?

Based on going with the cheaper hotel, this 5 night birthday getaway will set Vicky back £289.

Which for a long capital city break across a popular bank holiday staying in a well rated, central hotel with a pool seems a pretty good deal to me.

I hope you have the best birthday holiday EVER, Vicky!

Any time for a few more requests?

Sure, let’s razz through a few more.

THE REQUEST: Venice – August bank holiday weekend

You lot are mad for your bank holiday getaways it seems!

Flights to Venice are not cheap but the best deal I could find was flying out later on the Friday and coming back early on the Tuesday morning.

London to Venice
Fri 23rd Aug – Tues 27th Aug
£126

If you can get the time off, you can also fly back on the Tues at 2125 for £134.

Venice isn’t necessarily the cheapest destination and is already pretty booked up that weekend but there’s still some decent deals to be had!

Airbnb – Sky Tower Suite
£65.67 a night (£32.84 each)
(you can get £25 off here if you haven’t used Airbnb before!)

In the same building as a hotel, what it lacks in personality it makes up for with its clean, practical and low cost. The hotel reception also means you can check in 24/7 and you’re just a 10 minute bus from the historic centre of Venice.

Airbnb – Venetian Bridge Private Room
£81.67 a night (£40.84 each)
(you can get £25 off here if you haven’t used Airbnb before!)

Hurrah, we’ve made it over to the main island but it does mean we’ll have to stay in a private room… But it’s a very cute one if that helps?!

Hotel Pausania
£108.33 a night + €21 on check in (£57.17 each)

If you want to be super central, get ready for some proper OLD SKOOL ITALIAN DECOR! Which I personally love. This place is 3 star, well rated and really close to many of Venice’s historic monuments.

THE REQUEST: Barcelona – September. About £500 all in. 3 people from Manchester.

Now this didn’t say how many days, so I’ve gone for a cheeky little long weekend getaway for you!

Manchester to Barcelona
Fri 6th Sep – Mon 9th Sep
£59 each

The Bicycle Apartments
£124.66 a night (£41.50 each)

As I wasn’t sure on what formation the 3 adults would need to sleep in, The Bicycle Apartments have a range of options that would work and if you can stretch to the Design Duplex at £55 a night each, you can all get a double bed!

An 11 min walk from Plaça d’Espanya and has plenty of transport options in its midst.

Total cost = £183.50 each leaving plenty of money for food and fun!

Went went to Barcelona last year and managed to bag ourselves an INSANE apartment for next to nothing so you could try giving Love Home Swap a try too!

THE REQUEST: Booked flights to NYC for 30th November – 5th December… Now to find a hotel? Under £700 please!
Where better to enjoy the New York skyline than in Brooklyn?!

Ah yes. New York accommodation. It’s never fun 🤣

Now, there are some options in Manhattan for around £140 a night but they are – pardon my French – absolute horse shit. And I refuse to recommend anyone stay anywhere so crap!

So instead, I’m going to take us across the East River to Brooklyn. It has easy access over to Manhattan and is a place to visit and enjoy in its own right. In fact, it’s my favourite area of New York!

It’s also particularly helpful if you’re flying in from JFK as it’s the same side of the city.

Henry Norman Hotel £684.28 total

  • Trendy 3.5 star hotel with excellent ratings
  • Greenpoint is another area that’s become a ‘hip’ place to visit in recent years
  • 11 min walk to the G line up to connect to then connect to either the L or the 7 across to Manhattan
  • Also, the hotel provides a shuttle to take you to nearby subway station

Hotel Le Jolie£799 total

  • Basic (but with a modern edge) 2.5 star hotel
  • Very well rated
  • Williamsburg is an AMAZING part of Brooklyn – full of cool shops, cafes, bars and restaurants
  • Great location – just a 7 min walk from L line over to Manhattan (20 mins to Union Square)

Less nice but cheeeap, is the Bogart Hotel for £519 and much more expensive, but super lovely is the Hoxton Williamsburg for £933.

THE REQUEST: Mid August trip in Scotland. Ending in Glasgow. Car hire, beautiful roads & good value

Okay, there’s a lot to unpack here but here are my headlines:

  • Look into the North Coast 500 road trip. James and I did it in 6 days last summer and it was phenomenal
  • Whilst in many places you may have no choice, but always choose B&Bs over hotels. Much better value for money and the breakfasts are EPIC!!!! Check Airbnb too for B&Bs
  • For car hire, Skyscanner is great at giving an overview but also check Turo – it’s like Airbnb but for people’s cars!
  • Also, if you’re very lucky you may be able to relocate a campervan from Edinburgh for £1 A DAY with Spaceship Rentals! The only problem is you’ll probably have to return it to London… But hey, did I mention the £1 a day??!
  • We also ended our trip in Glasgow and went all out by staying at the Dakota hotel. It’s not cheap but we got their Friday night offer (can only be booked via their website) where we both got a cocktail, £25 each towards dinner, a cooked breakfast and a LUSH ROOM for £200 (£100 each). It was a total treat but I would absolutely recommend it, especially after a week of B&Bs!!
Dakota Glasgow
THE REQUEST: More drunk videos of James

Hahaha. We’re off to Croatia on Wednesday so I’m sure there will be more to come. But for now, skip to 37 seconds to keep you going.

This is from the FIRST VLOG I EVER MADE!!! #classicdrunkjames


So, thats it for the second every holiday hotline! I’m so sorry to all the people I didn’t get to – I do hope I can help you out in the future.

Make sure to give me a follow on Instagram if you want to be involved in the next – and let me know if you end up booking any of these!

the perks of using a travel agent

The first, and last time I booked a holiday through a travel agent was in 2008.

It was a small shop, overlooking my local bus station.

If your eyes were good enough, you’d just be able to make out the felt tip penned proclamations of ‘ALL INCLUSIVE’ deals in a ‘SUNNY KAVOS’ as your – normally late – Arriva Wales bus pulled out of the depot.

I can’t remember how much it cost but that summer, my friends Emma, Anna and I would embark on our first ‘girls holiday’ to Zante. Or ‘Zakynthos’ as the agent had proudly called it, pressing receipts for our £50 deposits back into our hands.

The start of the night
The end of the night

I have many stories from that week away (galactic sunburn/KOing on the beach at 6am/the reason why I still to this day cannot shot sambuca) but what I didn’t realise at the time was that I would never again use a travel agent.

Never again would I agree to a holiday based on three handwritten bullet points, sellotaped to the inside of a shop window. Bullet points which, if written in retrospect, would read:

  • EAT CHIPS FOR A WEEK
  • LEARN ABSOLUTELY NOTHING ABOUT GREEK CULTURE
  • COCKTAIL + A FREE SHOT FOR ONLY TWO EUROS

To be fair, that probably would have made me sign up all the much quicker at the time 😂

CULTURE.

Thanks to the likes of Skyscanner, Airbnb and Trivago, booking our own holidays has become so easy and – if you’re an obsessive like me – even enjoyable.

So, when I received a call from a producer at BBC Radio 5 Live this morning – following the news that Thomas Cook has reported losses of £1.5 billion – asking whether I could talk about some of the reasons why people still choose to use a travel agent, the concept seemed so alien to me at first.

Yet, whilst I love the thrill of finding a cheap holiday for half the going rate, I appreciate that it’s not for everyone.

So what are the perks of using a travel agent?

  • Payment protection– most major travel companies are ATOL protected meaning if they go bust, you wont lose your money or become stranded abroad
  • Deposits and monthly instalments – holding deposits and monthly instalments can really help when you can’t quite part with hundreds of pounds in one go
  • Price matching – travel companies, such as Thomas Cook, do offer a price match guarantee so if you book and then see the same deal elsewhere for cheaper, they’ll refund the difference
  • Face to face help – booking a holiday can be totally overwhelming and travel agents are used to giving advice on where to go, what to do and practical things like how to get to your hotel from the airport
  • Printing – as someone who has to go to an INTERNET CAFE to do all her holiday printing this is a perk – albeit one that doesn’t hold much sway!!!

Of course, the big question is, can they offer competitive rates to what you could find yourself online?

I do often find that I can recreate the deal offered in packages for cheaper by simply searching for the flights on Skyscanner and then for the hotel on Trivago.

Sometimes you can save hundreds, but other times it may just be a few quid. So it’s up to you to work out whether that saving is worth your time and the inconvenience of booking separately.

Also important to note is this major difference: travel agents online and travel agents in the shop. As Jude pointes out:

Just like Jude did, if you’re going to physically go into a travel agents, make a note of all the prices and places they offer you, but go away and do your own research before you make your final booking with them.

Thanks to apps and great mobile sites, you may even find you can do this in a quick 10 minute coffee break after you head out of the shop.

Many will price match what you’ve found, but they may not do that price check for you without prompt.

My last tip is that whilst you may loathe the thought of spending hours searching for cheap flights, you can bet that there will be someone in your family or friendship group that loves the challenge. I know I’m not alone in this!

Why not ask for their help the next time you’re looking and if they end up finding you a better deal, you’ll be able to spend that money elsewhere (more holidays??!) as well as afford a treat for your money saving saviour.

You can listen back to me talking about the use of travel agents with Emma Barnett and Jamz Supernova on BBC Radio 5 Live from 46 mins and 20 seconds here.


Come and follow me over on Instagram where I do a weekly holiday hotline to find your your perfect – and cheap! – next trip away. No thank you gift buying necessary!

holiday hotline #1 – solo travel, jordan hacks, dog friendly retreats and birthday fun in budapest

If you’re following me over on Instagram, you may already know that I’ve opened up shop and am taking your holiday requests once a week!

And in the first official ‘holiday hotline’, I had so many requests through that I literally could spend all week searching for getaways for you all.

Alas, I only had a couple of hours to properly research one meaty request and then I thought I’d give my fleeting thoughts to a few others as well.

All of this is over on my stories today and remember, if you’re after a holiday of your own, follow and get ready to submit your own request next time!

THE REQUEST: Perfect solo retreat in Europe first week of July

What a great first query to get stuck into!

Now, if I was planning a solo trip, I’d definitely want to spend some time chilling and enjoying my own company but then I know that I’d definitely get bored and want something or someone to entertain me a little. So what I’m going to suggest is a nice mix of the two.

Now, I’ve clocked the word ‘perfect’ here and thought SHIT THIS IS NOT AN ALL INCLUSIVE CALIPPO ON THE BEACH JOBBY. They want something special. So that’s exactly what I’m going to deliver.

So where are we going?

Well, here’s the flights:

London to Paphos
Sat 29th June – Sun 7th July
£121

Paphos is full of incredible food, archaeological sites, and road trips to beautiful beaches. Plus, at a whopping 4 hours 30 mins flight out there, it’s literally as far as you can get in Europe without hitting the middle east.

Speaking of which…

Paphos to Amman
Weds 3rd July – Sat 6th July
£30

YEH BOI. Not only are we doing Cyprus, but we’re gonna fly on over to Jordan. JUST COZ WE CAN.

Told you this was gonna be spesh.

The top tip here is that you can fly to Jordan from Cyprus for disgustingly cheap. In fact, flying Tuesday to Saturday will cost just £14 return, but the flights for Weds to Sat worked better for what I’ve got planned.

To put into perspective just how cheap these flights are, do you want to see how much it would cost to fly direct from London to Amman on the same dates?

VILE.

But before we get excited by Jordan, let’s get back to Cyprus to talk car hire and accommodation.

Car hire

Paphos and the surrounding area is definitely worth exploring so renting a car will help you to get out during the day if you don’t fancy just chilling at the pool.

The good news is car hire is super cheap at £35 for 4 days.

Paphos Accommodation

There are still so many options available for a whole range of budgets but given what’s coming up in Jordan, I think keeping it on the cheaper (but definitely still cheerful) side will help level out the costs later on.

Paphos Airbnb Studio
Sat 29th June – Weds 3rd July
£47.25 a night / £196 total
(you can get £25 off here if you haven’t used Airbnb before!)

This studio apartment is the perfect base. With a small kitchen, air conditioning, balcony and access to a shared pool, it ticks a lot of boxes.

You’re also just 700m from the sea and in easy access to sights, restaurants and nightlife. What’s more, you get access via a lockbox meaning you won’t be charged more for that late check in.

I was really impressed with how many options there were both in Paphos and the nearby area so here’s a few more if you’re interested:

Paphos Airbnb Private Room
£19 a night / £76 total

Tala Airbnb Apartment
£54.74 a night / £219 total

Kathikas Airbnb Entire Stone House
£83 a night / £334 total

Pissouri Airbnb Entire Villa w/Private Pool
£97.50 a night / £390 total

And if you fancied chilling out at a hotel instead, this 5 star option is very well priced considering… Well, considering it’s 5 star!

Azia Resort and Spa
£91 a night / £364.16 total

Next stop – Jordan!

The Wednesday is an early start back to the airport to embark on the next adventure.

Named as one of Lonely Planet’s ‘top places to travel in 2019’, now’s your chance to get ahead of the pack before it gets TOO popular.

Some of the most popular reasons to visit include ancient ruins in Petra, the epic desert wilderness of Wadi Rum and the incredible buoyancy of the Dead Sea.

Now, it’s absolutely possible to visit all three of these places from Amman yourself HOWEVER, as a solo traveller you won’t be able to split the cost of a hire car, hotel rooms or a tour guide, so I think this would be a great chance to embark on a group tour. It also gives you the chance to meet new people!

For our trip to Jordan, I’ve found a 4 day tour, that begins with a pickup at Amman airport. Given our early arrival, this also gives us time to explore the city for the day before we get on the road.

Across the next three days, we’ll explore the desert, Petra and visit the Dead Sea all before being brought back in time for our flight home on the Saturday.

The tour is £372 via Tour Radar and includes:

  • 3 star hotel accommodation for 3 nights (though you may well be sharing will a fellow group member)
  • Tour guide in Jordan (for min 5 persons)
  • 3 breakfasts & 2 dinners
  • All transportation and English speaking driver

Not included are your entrance fee to Petra ($60), tips and additional meals but for what works out as £93 a day, I think it’s exceptional value.

This particular tour worked really well for these dates but currently has only 1 review, so I’d definitely recommend chatting more to Tour Radar (they’re the middle man who sells on the tours) before you book. This 3 day tour has loads of great review but didn’t work as well for our dates.

Back to Paphos!

After an incredible four days of exploration, we’ll be ready to relax so for the last evening in Cyprus, I think it’s time to go ALL OUT and stay somewhere lush.

Staying a hotel will also help with that late flight the next day home as they’ll be able to keep hold of our luggage, and we should be able to still chill out by the pool all day should we want to!

Almyra
Sat 6th July – Sun 7th July
£129 a night with breakfast

As I said, I’m all about going cheaper at the beginning so you can stay the last evening in LUXURY.

This hotel is gorgeous. It even features on the Mr & Mrs Smith website which if you don’t know, is like a directory of bloody beautiful hotels. They don’t let any old muck on there.

However, if you’re hoping to spend a little less, there are plenty of other options including:

Azia Resort & Spa
£114 a night

St George Hotel
£76.96 a night

So how much for the whole trip?

Flights – £151
Paphos car hire – £35
Paphos Airbnb Accommodation – £196
Jordan 4 day tour – £372
Paphos luxury hotel – £129
Total = £883

It may not be a ‘budget trip’ but for the price, I think it’s pretty damn special (I TOLD YA SO!!)

What if I don’t have £883? Is there anywhere else you’d recommend?

Yes! For a solo trip I’d definitely recommend getting a cheap flight out to Germany (so many in July for under £60) and using their great train network to visit a few different cities.

Germany in the summer is gorgeous and thanks to the popularity of Europe’s interrail passes, many cities are so ready to embrace people travelling on their own.

Stay in trendy hostels for under £20 a night to meet new people and act as a base for exploring historical cities with GREAT BEER!

Now for a few quick requests.

THE REQUEST: 4 day Italian escape

I went to a wedding in Italy last year and flew into Perugia – a place I’d never heard of before but would definitely visit again.

Explore the beautiful city (and eat at La Taverna – INSANE FOOD!), hire a car and explore the Italian countryside – you’re not far from Tuscany either!

There’s loads of decently priced flight options but I found Fri 28th June – Tues 2nd July for £109 which is pretty good considering it’s the summer.

When I went, I stayed with three friends in this sweet apartment which is set in the grounds of a families LUSCIOUS garden. There’s just two or three other apartments so you often have the pool to yourself. It was GORGEOUS.

THE REQUEST: Can take our 20kg dog without a passport, no/few kids, nice accommodation, good nature

I stayed in dog-friendly The Gallivant right on the beach of Camber Sands in East Sussex last year and it is gorgeous.

With spa treatments, yoga on the beach and a great restaurant, it ticks all the boxes for a boutique getaway that feels like a treat.

What’s more, they only allow babies under 18 months and children over the age of 12.

Rates start at £115 a night and they even have a ‘dog lovers escape‘ deal which is £330 for two nights (Mon – Thurs in Sep-May) with breakfast, afternoon tea, a 3 course dinner, endless dog biscuits and a dog rug, toy and water in your room!

THE REQUEST: The best comparison site?

My go to is Skyscanner but I like to check Momondo for prices, particularly for long haul flights.

I also like Google Flights for spotting cheap fare patterns but then I’d always check the price against those mentioned above.

THE REQUEST: Villa in Portugal (Vilamoura are) for 8 adults, a 4 year old and 6 month old

Get on the ol’ Airbnb and my top tip is to not forget about the other websites too!

Hometogo is a handy website for comparing holiday rental sites (it saves you a hell of a lot of time!) – though unfortunately they don’t compare Airbnb!

Also, sites like Booking.com now offer apartments and villas so try searching there too.

THE REQUEST: Looking to go Copenhagen for 2 nights in Dec for 3 adults & 2 children

Manchester to Copenhagen
Fri 6th Dec – Sun 8th Dec
£69 each

Central Airbnb
£388 for 2 nights
(you can get £25 off here if you haven’t used Airbnb before!)

4* hotel – 1 x Superior Extra and 1 x Standard room
£555

1* hotel – 1 x Double Room + 2 extra beds and 1 x Single Standard room
£350

Make sure to visit Tivoli theme park – it’s beautiful at Christmas!!

THE REQUEST: Budapest in Nov for 40th birthday

Bristol to Budapest
Thurs 7th Nov – Sat 9th Nov
£68

You can also go for 5 nights, returning on Thursday 14th Nov for the same price!

Since you’re celebrating your 40th, it only seems right that you should stay somewhere nice. Both of these are great boutique hotel options!

Hotel Moments
£109 a night with breakfast

Brody House
£120 a night with breakfast


Right, that’s all for the first official holiday hotline!

Make sure to give me a follow on Instagram if you want to be involved in the next – and let me know if you end up booking any of these!


I have used affiliate links throughout this article. They don’t charge you more (in fact, I’ve put non-affiliate links where that’s the case), but if you book through them you’ll be helping me to continue my cheap travel booking hobbies. For full transparency, I make around 10p if you book a flight through one of my links so… Yeh. NO ONE’S GETTING RICH HERE PAL 😂

how to fly to the europa league 2019 final in Baku on a budget

First the mad scurry to get to the Champions League in Madrid and now both Chelsea and Arsenal have made it to the final in Baku on Wednesday 29th May 2019. Cue airfare meltdown.

Unfortunately, Baku isn’t going to be quite as easy as my deep dive into cheap ways to get to Spain. But let’s see what we can do here, pals.

Before I crack on, if you find that this helps you at all, feel free to help a gal out by giving me a follow on either YouTubeInstagram or Twitter and I promise even more top money saving tips when it comes to your future travel.

In this post, I’ll be exploring the following. Either scroll through or click on which bit applies to you:

  1. Where is Baku and will I need a visa?
  2. Direct flights from London from £604
  3. Cheapest 1+ stop flights from the UK from £451
  4. Fly from just £289 one way by DOING IT YOURSELF

First Things First

Where the bloody hell is Baku? And WILL I NEED A visa?

Baku is ‘the capital and commercial hub’ of Azerbaijan. A place I literally only know of due to their yearly inclusion in the Eurovision. But if they’re in Eurovision, surely we can all jump in our cars and embark on an epic road trip, right?

Ah, rigggghht.

I mean, if driving 60 hours is your kinda ‘thing’, then go for it pal. But just remember that you’ll need to get an eVisa sorted for scurrying through Turkey.

Speaking of visas, you will need an eVisa to get into Azerbaijan but fortunately, it’s a simple process that you can do over the internet that will set you back around £20. Make sure to select ‘Europa League Final’ in the ‘purpose of visit’ and give yourself at least three working days to get it sorted.

On to the flights…

DIRECT FLIGHTS FROM LONDON TO BAKU

This section should otherwise be named, ‘let’s all have a big laugh, shall we?’

Direct flights are as good as gone, unless you fancy a 12 day trip to Baku for £609 instead:

Seems a bit of a hassle.

The next best thing I could find was this weeklong schlep with one direct flight for a cool £764.

It is worth saying that airlines are obviously aware of the demand and so may put extra planes on. Sure, they’ll hike up the prices, but if you really need get there and back in a sharpish manner, it may be worth keeping an eye on Azerbaijan Airlines.

Anything cheaper?

CHEAPEST 1+ STOP FLIGHTS FROM LONDON

Remember – if you’re not flying direct, you may have to re-check your bag and even go through security again so make sure there’s enough time. My top tip would be to not check in any bags at all to make this as simple as possible for you.

Tues 28th May – Thurs 30th May

Let’s pause for a moment here to rinse our eyes out with bleach.

£1566 for a NOT EVEN DIRECT FLIGHT to Baku? Get a grip, love.

Unfortunately, these really are the cheapest flights you’re going to find that don’t involve 15+ hours with multiple transfer. But, because we don’t have many options here, let’s take a look at these too:

TOP TIP: when searching for a flight that needs to get me into somewhere for a certain time, I always search on Momondo as they allow you to filter by landing time.

Weds 29th May – Fri 31st May

With the game kicking off at 11pm Azerbaijan time (thanks to @Mattswfc1 for pointing this out on Twitter 🙈) the following flight might just work… But it would be tight!

Tues 28th May – Fri 31st May

One stop only is still a sickening mess at £1463:

Whack in a few more stops and you only need pay £704! WHAT A BARGAIN! (Please sense my intense sarcasm).

Tues 28th May – Sat 1st June

One stop from £1276:

Two stops from £695:

Can you tell I’m getting bored of the repetitive high prices yet? Okay, what’s it going to take to find a sub £500 ticket? WHAT IS IT GOING TO TAKE?!

Mon 27th May – Mon 3rd June

A week off and a change in Stuttgart, Ankara and Riga, that’s what!

And what about for a sub 10 hour leg and a sub £500 ticket?

Sun 26th May – Tues 4th June

Yeah. I couldn’t actually find one in the timeframe/lost the will to live. FFS BAKU!

Right, let’s try doing it ourselves instead.

HOW TO FIND YOUR OWN CONNECTING FLIGHTS FOR LESS

Search engines like Skyscanner and Momondo are good, but they can’t always show you every single possible connection. So this is a little trick may be useful now, and worth holding onto for the future too.

To do this:

  • Open a new browsing tab – we’re going to call this tab one – and go to Skyscanner and in ‘From’ type in your departure airport
  • Next, in ‘To’, write ‘Everywhere’
  • Select the date you’d like travel on
  • This will bring up a list of countries in price order – leave this open
  • In a new tab – this will be referred to as tab two – again, go to Skyscanner but this time, write ‘Baku’ underneath the ‘To’ box
  • In the ‘From’, you’re going to look back at that list of cheap countries in tab one
  • For a European city (I used this tactic to find super cheap flights for the Champions League final in Madrid), I’d usually go through the list one by one but for Baku, we know that not many places are going to fly there. So whilst we may find a cheaper fare from these places listed (and therefore they may be worth checking) it’s likely that they’re going to be pretty gnarly flights.
  • Therefore, I’m going to now head over to the Baku arrivals page to see where may be a good place to invest my efforts.
  • Straightaway I’m getting Turkish vibes so I scroll through the list of cheap countries listed to me in tab one and find direct flights from London to Turkey for £53 on Tuesday 28th May
  • Next, I head back to tab two and enter ‘Turkey as my departure country to Baku and hit search
  • Unfortunately Antalya’s one flight is really early in the morning but there are a few viable options for Istanbul, so I head back to tab one and see what’s available from London to Istanbul on Tues 28th May:
  • Now, there are cheaper flights with Pegasus but these fly into Istanbul SAW airport which is the other side of the city. HOWEVER – I have actually had to travel between SAW and IST airports in rush hour before and it took around 1 hour 45 minutes and just £35 in a taxi using their app, Bitaksi – BUT, you would have to buy an eVisa for entering the country so I guess it all adds up!
  • Heading back to tab two, I see if any of the flights from Istanbul to Baku work and they do!

THE BORING BUT IMPORTANT PART:

  • As you are booking two flights separately, it will look like to Turkish Airlines that you are ending your journey in Istanbul and therefore they are well within their right to check that you have a Turkish eVisa before allowing you to board the flight. It may be that by showing them your next booked flight they accept that you do not need it, but PLEASE CHECK THIS WITH THEM DIRECTLY BEFOREHAND. It’s only $20 and is a quick process online, but check before you turn up to the airport.
  • Secondly, whilst 2 hours and 25 minutes sounds like more than enough time to connect to your next flight, each airport has a different process and whilst you may not want to leave the airport, you may be obliged to go through immigration and re-check in to get onto your next flight so again CHECK WITH YOUR AIRLINES!

Update: Joe who has family in Turkey has done us a solid and given his first hand experience of all of this!

  • I would definitely recommend not checking in a bag so that you won’t have a reason to leave the airport!

If you can indeed stay in transit then that 9 hour trip for £289 is a pretty sweet deal (and just £306 for a longer, but much less risky journey) – especially when you look at the one way options that Skyscanner offer up. That’s a saving over over £661.

Now, you just need to do the same trick for the flight back and believe me, finding it and knowing you’ve saved hundreds of pounds is half the fun!!


I hope this has helped you find a flight that works for both your budget and your schedule. If you end up booking something, let me know so I can holiday vicariously through you!

And if you’ve found this useful, give me a follow over on YouTubeInstagram and Twitter for even more cheap travel tips.


I have used 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 – and make me feel better about spending my Saturday morning in bed researching this!! For total transparency though, I’ll have you know my post about the Champions League directed thousands of clicks to sites and I made £6 from it. SIX POUNDS. And that bad boy took me 8 hours to write up 🤣🤣🤣

how to fly to the champions league 2019 final on a budget

With both Spurs and Liverpool through to the Champions League final in Madrid on Saturday 1st June 2019, flights to the Spanish capital from the UK have sky rocketed:

Jesus wept.

Therefore, I’ve pulled together a load of different ways that you can get yourself over to the final for less.

If this helps you at all, feel free to help a gal out by giving me a follow on either YouTube, Instagram or Twitter and I promise even more top money saving tips when it comes to your future travel.

Right. ONWARDS!

I’m going to take you through five different options. Click on what you’re after to head straight to that section:

  1. The cheapest flights from London, Liverpool and Manchester that only require up to one day off
  2. The cheapest flights from London, Liverpool and Manchester if you can be flexible with your dates
  3. The cheapest flights leaving from alternative UK airports
  4. The cheapest flights to alternative Spanish airports
  5. WILDCARD – Do it yourself and fly from as little as £119 each way

Scenario One

THE CHEAPEST FLIGHTS FROM LONDON, LIVERPOOL AND MANCHESTER
(that only require up to one day off)

The headline here is that the only way you’re going to be able to pull this off for under £500 is to do a one stop flight.

For all of these one stop flights, I haven’t included any overnight waits but warning – there are some long layovers…

I didn’t say it was gonna be pretty.

From London
Fri 31st May – Sun 2nd June
£379

From London
Sat 1st June – Mon 3rd June
£284 (there’s also a flight with a 4 hour 55 min return for £349)

From Liverpool
Sat 1st May – Sun 2nd June
£504 (just nipped over from £499 this morning – genuinely this was the best deal I could find!!)

From Manchester
Sat 1st May – Mon 3rd June
£498 – Rising quickly – last night’s best price was £379 (though the flights included longer layovers).


Scenario Two

THE CHEAPEST FLIGHTS FROM LONDON, LIVERPOOL AND MANCHESTER
(if you can be flexible with your dates)

London – All direct

Thurs 30th May – Mon 3rd June – £812 (08/05 price £710)
Thurs 30th May – Tues 4th June – £379 (08/05 price £418)
Thurs 30th May – Weds 5th June – £287 (08/05 price £288)
Thurs 30th May – Thurs 6th June – £268 (08/05 price £291)
Weds 29th May – Mon 3rd June – £532 (08/05 price £465)
Weds 29th May – Tues 4th June – £156 (08/05 price £143)
Weds 29th May – Weds 5th June – £56 (08/05 price £63)

Liverpool – see details

Thurs 30th May – Mon 3rd June – £481 – 1 stop (08/05 price £437)
Thurs 30th May – Tues 4th June – £244 – 1 stop (08/05 price £303)
Thurs 30th May – Weds 5th June – £380 – 1 stop/direct (08/05 price £378)
Weds 29th May – Mon 3rd June – £355 – 1 stop (08/05 price £311)
Weds 29th May – Tues 4th June – £201 – 1 stop (08/05 price £194)
Weds 29th May – Weds 5th June – £618 – direct (08/05 price £588)
Weds 29th May – Weds 5th June – £265 – 1 stop/direct (08/05 price £252)

Next direct and cheap(ish!) flight is:
Mon 27th May – Mon 10th June – £371

Manchester – see details

Thurs 30th May – Mon 3rd June – £344 – 1 stop (08/05 price £475)
Thurs 30th May – Tues 4th June – £870 – direct (08/05 price £866)
Thurs 30th May – Tues 4th June – £320 – 1 stop (08/05 price £303)
Thurs 30th May – Weds 5th June – £240 – 1 stop/direct (08/05 price £231)
Weds 29th May – Mon 3rd June – £397 – 1 stop
Weds 29th May – Tues 4th June – £240 – 1 stop (08/05 price £223)
Weds 29th May – Weds 5th June – £153 – 1 stop/direct (08/05 price £146)
Weds 29th May – Thurs 6th June – £120 – 1 stop/direct

Next direct and cheap(ish!) flight is:
Tues 28th May – Thurs 6th June – £210

View this post on Instagram

Lots of fun recording a World Service doc in Madrid this week 🎤👤👂 Unfortunately didn’t get to see too much, but caught enough glimpses to persuade me to revisit in the future🤞 Here’s my thoughts: ✈️ Very cheap flights from the UK (mine were 30€ return booked 3 weeks ago) 🚇 40 min metro into the city centre – and only 3€ on top of your standard fare 💳 10 tickets for the metro work out at just 1,20€ each – very cheap for such an efficient and wide reaching service 🏠 One bed Airbnb apartment, 1 min from Bilbao metro, cost £62 a night and was really nice! Small room in a 3 star hotel was around the same price. 🍤 Great seafood – and great tapas too! So many restaurants to choose between with really affordable prices (shout-out to the lunchtime Menu Del Dia where I got paella, chicken, wine and pudding for 11€!!!) 🍷 Wine on most menus started around 3€ – and I wasn’t intentionally choosing cheap places 😊 Really relaxed vibe – found it more slow paced than Barcelona – and unlike other capital cities, locals are known for their friendliness! 🇪🇸 Speaking English is not a given. At all. But I see this as a perk. I really enjoyed trying out my VERY BASIC Spanish and everyone was so helpful, and we had a right laugh as they tried to teach me new phrases! ☀️ 13 degrees and blue skies in Jan? I will take that!! Have you been to Madrid? What did you reckon? Have my ‘glimpses’ steered me wrong?!! #travel #instatravel #travelgram #wanderlust #citybreak #cheapholiday #budgettravel #europe #madrid #spain #visitspain #visitmadrid #radio #producer #picoftheday

A post shared by Chelsea Dickenson (@howmanyholidays) on


Scenario Three

THE CHEAPEST FLIGHTS LEAVING FROM ALTERNATIVE AIRPORTS

Whilst flying from your nearest airport may be the most convenient, have you thought about travelling within the UK first to get the price down?

This is also one for those Liverpool and Spurs fans that don’t reside in London or Liverpool!

Now there were quite a few good deals to be found here but since Tottenham qualified, many have been snapped up – GODDAMIT!

FRIDAY 31ST MAY – SUNDAY 2ND JUNE

One stop
Bristol – £375 (includes overnight layover) (09/05 price £375)

FRIDAY 31ST MAY – MON 3RD JUNE

All one stop
Edinburgh – £335 (08/05 £364)
Southampton – £450 (08/05 price £417)
Bristol – £394 (08/05 price £383)

SATURDAY 1ST JUNE – MON 3RD JUNE

All one stop
Cardiff – £332
Birmingham – £358


Scenario Four


THE CHEAPEST DIRECT FLIGHTS TO ALTERNATIVE SPANISH AIRPORTS

VALENCIA

  • 1 hour 40 train from Valencia to Madrid – around £80 return for 1 adult
  • 3 hours 40 drive from Valencia to Madrid – car hire as cheap as £5 a day!

London to Valencia – All direct (these have FLOWN up since Spurs qualified)

Thurs 30th May – Sun 2nd June – £429 (08/05 £572)
Fri 31st May – Sun 2nd June – £586 (08/05 £797)
Fri 31st May – Mon 3rd June – £546 (08/05 £574)
Fri 31st May – Tues 4th June – £293 (08/05 price £396)
Sat 1st June – Sun 3rd June – £1118!!! (08/05 price £570)
Sat 1st June – Mon 3rd June – £637 (08/05 price £492)
Sat 1st June – Tues 4th June – £590 (08/05 price £314)

Liverpool to Valencia – One stop

Fri 31st May – Tues 3th Jun – £415 (cheaper option for overnight layover)

Manchester to Valencia – One stop

Fri 31st May – Fri 7th June – £289 (cheaper option for longer durations)

East Midlands to Valencia – Direct

Tues 28th May – Tues 4th June – £254 (08/05 price £136)

Bristol to Valencia – Direct

Fri 31st May – Mon 3rd June – £468 (08/05 price £466)
Fri 31st May – Fri 7th June – £254

Edinburgh to Valencia – Direct

Thurs 30th May – Tues 4th June – £185

BILBAO

  • 4 hours 10 min bus from Bilbao to Madrid – prices from around £50 return
  • 4 hours drive from Bilbao to Madrid – car hire as cheap as £7 a day!

London to Bilbao – All direct

Thurs 30th May – Sun 2nd June – £341 (08/05 price £452)
Fri 31st May – Sun 2nd June – £768 (08/05 price £761)
Fri 31st May – Mon 3rd June – £494 (08/05 price £358)
Fri 31st May – Tues 4th June – £255 (08/05 price £126)
Sat 1st June – Sun 3rd June – £516 (08/05 price £522)
Sat 1st June – Mon 3rd June – £494 (08/05 price £281)
Sat 1st June – Tues 4th June – £228 (08/05 price £79)

Manchester to Bilbao – All direct

Fri 31st May – Tues 4th June – £469 (08/05 price £485)

Bristol to Bilbao – All direct

Thurs 30th May – Sun 2nd June – £509 (08/05 price £474)
Thurs 30th May – Tues 4th June – £199 (08/05 price £170)

Edinburgh to Bilbao – All direct

Weds 29th May – Sun 2nd June – £260 (08/05 price £261)

BARCELONA

London to Barcelona – All direct

Thurs 30th May – Mon 3rd June – £273
Thurs 30th May – Tues 4th June – £143
Thurs 30th May – Weds 5th June – £81
Fri 31st May – Mon 3rd June – £320

Liverpool to Barcelona – All direct

Fri 31st May – Tues 4th June – £454

Manchester to Barcelona – All direct

Thurs 30th May – Mon 3rd June – £633
Thurs 30th May – Tues 4th June – £323
Thurs 30th May – Weds 5th June – £272
Fri 31st May – Mon 3rd June – £742
Fri 31st May – Tues 4th June – £431
Fri 31st May – Weds 5th June – £380

Birmingham to Barcelona – All direct

Thurs 30th May – Mon 3rd June – £599
Thurs 30th May – Tues 4th June – £341
Thurs 30th May – Weds 5th June – £261
Fri 31st May – Sun 2nd June – £531 (note that morning flight back!)
Fri 31st May – Mon 3rd June – £531

Bristol to Barcelona – All direct

Thurs 30th May – Mon 3rd June – £354
Thurs 30th May – Tues 4th June – £171
Fri 31st May – Mon 3rd June – £437
Fri 31st June – Tues 4th June – £254

Cardiff to Barcelona – All direct

Tues 28th May – Tues 4th June – £72

Glasgow to Barcelona – All direct

Thurs 30th May – Sun 2nd June – £268 (note that 1215 flight home!)
Thurs 30th May – Mon 3rd June – £227
Fri 31st May – Mon 3rd June – £315

East Midlands to Barcelona – one stop/one direct

Fri 31st May – Mon 3rd June – £364

Newcastle to Barcelona – All direct

Thurs 30th May – Sun 2nd June – £477
Thurs 30th May – Mon 3rd June – £336
Thurs 30th May – Tues 4th June – £167
Fri 31st May – Sun 2nd June – £551
Fri 31st May – Mon 3rd June – £410
Fri 31st May – Tues 4th June – £241

Edinburgh to Barcelona – All direct

Fri 31st May – Mon 3rd June – £351

SANTANDER

  • 4 hour 7 train from Santander to Madrid  – around £75 return for 1 adult (but they don’t run often so check those times!)
  • 5 hour drive from Santander to Madrid – car hire as cheap as £8 a day!

London to Santander – All direct

Thurs 30th May – Mon 3rd June – £280 (08/05 price £241)
Thurs 30th May – Tues 4th June – £121 (08/05 price £109)

Edinburgh to Santander – All direct

Weds 29th May – Sun 2nd June – £176 (08/05 price £150)
Weds 29th May – Sun 5th June – £107 (08/05 price £82)

SEVILLE

  • 2 hours 30 min train from Seville to Madrid for around £110 return
  • 5 hours drive – car hire from only £7 a day

London to Seville – All direct

Thurs 30th May – Mon 3rd Jun – £392
Thurs 30th May – Tues 4th Jun – £225
Fri 31st May – Mon 3rd Jun – £607
Fri 31st May – Tues 4th June – £344

Manchester to Seville – All direct

Weds 29th May – Mon 3rd June – £403
Weds 29th May – Weds 5th June – £225

Bristol to Seville – All direct

Tues 28th May – Tues 4th June – £54

East Midlands to Seville – All direct

Tues 28th May – Tues 4th June – £117

Edinburgh to Seville – All direct

Thurs 30th May – Mon 3rd June – £257
Thurs 30th May – Tues 4th June – £143

REUS

  • 6 hour overnight bus from Reus to Madrid and 7 hour bus back to Reus around £70 return (they don’t run often so check before booking)
  • 6 hour drive from Reus to Madrid – car hire as cheap as £17 a day!

London to Reus – All direct

Thurs 30th May – Sun 2nd June – £313 (08/05 price £313)
Thurs 30th May – Mon 3rd June – £339 (08/05 price £321)
Fri 31st May – Sun 2nd June – £419 (08/05 price £395)
Fri 31st May – Mon 3rd June – £364 (08/05 price £319)
Fri 31st May – Tues 4th June – £199 (08/05 price £174)

Manchester to Reus – All direct

Thurs 30th May – Tues 4th June – £292 (08/05 price £292)

East Midlands to Reus – All direct

Thurs 30th May – Sun 2nd June – £340 (08/05 price £311)
Thurs 30th May – Mon 3rd June – £336 (08/05 price £305)
Thurs 30th May – Tues 4th June – £158 (08/05 price £138)
Fri 31st May – Sun 2nd June – £428 (08/05 price £419)
Fri 31st May – Mon 3rd June – £364 (08/05 price £364)
Fri 31st May – Tues 4th June – £219 (08/05 price £239)

Birmingham to Reus – All direct

Thurs 30th May – Tues 4th June – £174 (08/05 price £174)

Glasgow to Reus – All direct

Fri 31st May – Tues 4th June – £206 (08/05 price £205)

Leeds to Reus – All direct

Fri 31st May – Tues 4th June – £255 (08/05 price £141)

MALAGA

  • 2 hours 45 mins train from Malaga to Madrid for around £116 return
  • 5 hour 20 min drive from Malaga to Madrid – car hire as cheap as £1 a day (erm, wtf lads?)

London to Malaga – All direct

Thurs 30th May – Tues 4th June – £146
Fri 31st May – Sun 2nd June – £456 (1100 flight – 2240 is £604)
Fri 31st May – Weds 5th June – £179

Liverpool to Malaga – All direct

Thurs 30th May – Sun 2nd June – £752 (1000 flight)

Manchester to Malaga – All direct

Thurs 30th May – Sun 2nd June – £605 (1050 flight – 2110 flight is £649)
Thurs 30th May – Mon 3rd June – £577
Thurs 30th May – Tues 4th June – £396

Birmingham to Malaga – All direct

Thurs 30th May – Mon 3rd June – £407
Fri 31st May – Sun 2nd June – £511 (1225 flight – 2120 is £680)

Southampton to Malaga – All direct

Fri 31st May – Weds 5th June – £280

Norwich to Malaga – All direct

Thurs 30th May – Mon 3rd June – £453

Leeds to Malaga – All direct

Thurs 30th May – Sun 2nd June – £468 (1205 flight – 2135 £563)
Thurs 30th May – Mon 3rd June – £448
Fri 31st May – Sun 2nd June – £523 (1205 flight – 2135 flight is £622)
Fri 31st May – Mon 3rd June – £473
Fri 31st May – Tues 4th June – £298

Glasgow to Malaga – All direct

Thurs 30th May – Sun 2nd June – £456
Thurs 30th May – Mon 3rd June – £324
Thurs 30th May – Tues 4th June – £187
Fri 31st May – Sun 2nd June – £422 (1325 flight – 2045 is £488)
Fri 31st May – Mon 3rd June – £354
Fri 31st May – Tues 4th June – £248

Exeter to Malaga – All direct

Thurs 30th May – Mon 3rd June – £196

Edinburgh to Malaga – All direct

Thurs 30th May – Sun 2nd June – £355
Thurs 30th May – Mon 3rd June – £235
Fri 31st May – Sun 2nd June – £435
Fri 31st May – Mon 3rd June – £315

East Midlands to Malaga – All direct

Fri 31st May – Mon 3rd June – £473

Bristol to Malaga – All direct

Thurs 30th May – Mon 3rd Jun – £275
Fri 31st May – Sun 2nd June – £399 (1210 flight – 2350 flight is £630)
Fri 31st May – Mon 3rd June – £369

Belfast to Malaga – All direct

Fri 31st May – Sun 2nd Jun – £440


Scenario Five

LASTLY – DO IT YOURSELF AND SAVE EVEN MORE

Okay, so for all of these I’ve done a standard ‘whack it in Skyscanner and hope’ jobby but actually, you can save even more if you have a little play around with these ‘one stop’ options yourself.

To do this:

  • Open a new browsing tab – we’re going to call this tab one – and go to Skyscanner and in ‘From’ type in your departure airport
  • Next, in ‘To’, write ‘Everywhere’
  • Select the date you’d like to travel to Madrid
  • This will bring up a list of countries in price order – leave this open
  • In a new tab – this will be referred to as tab two – again, go to Skyscanner but this time, write ‘Madrid’ underneath the ‘To’ box
  • In the ‘From’, you’re going to look back at that lovely list of cheap countries in tab one
  • For example, for London, my results show that flight to Germany start from £10 so I’m going to go back to tab two and enter ‘Germany’ as my departure country and hit search
  • Straight away it tells me that I can fly from Berlin to Madrid for £54 and from Hamburg to Madrid for £56 – pretty good – and so now I head back to my London list in tab one to see how much they’re coming up as
  • Hamburg is pretty pricey at £125 but Berlin is coming in at £44
  • Next, return to each of your tabs to inspect the flights you’ve found to see if they could work together
  • You want to check that they’re getting into the same airport and that you’ll have enough time to get on your connecting flight
  • Here’s what I found:

London to Berlin

Berlin to Madrid

From the above, I think the £80 LTN flight at 1325 and the £39 TXL flight work well. They both use the same airport – so no having to change – plus there’s more than enough time to make my connection. And at £119, it’s a pretty great price too.

This option simply does not come up on Skyscanner – or if it does, it gets lost in the results. In fact, these are the cheapest one stop options it comes up with:

Now, this was just my first try and so with this method, there’s huge potential to save even more money when booking your flights to the Champion’s League final in Madrid!

And remember – this way, you also don’t have to fly from and back into the same airport so check all the options to be in with a chance of bagging super cheap flights.

Good luck!


I hope this has helped you find a flight that works for both your budget and your schedule. If you end up booking something, let me know so I can holiday vicariously through you.

And if you’ve found this useful, give me a follow over on YouTube, Instagram and Twitter for even more cheap travel tips.


I have used 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 – and make me feel better about spending about 8 hours researching this!! For total transparency though, I’ll have you know that after 2 years, I still haven’t made enough money from affiliate links to actually withdraw anything 😂😂😂

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!